Welcome to March Madness – high school basketball style. The Medfield High boys' and girls' hoops teams are both in the MIAA state tournament, with the boys' tipping off tonight in Scituate.
(11) Medfield (11-9, 10-8) vs. (6) Scituate (13-7 , 11-5)
Scituate High School, Scituate, 7 p.m.
Division 2 South Sectional State Tournament, First Round
The Warriors face a difficult test in the first round of the MIAA Division 2 South Sectional State Tournament, squaring off against Patriot-Fisher League Champion Scituate at Scituate High School tonight.
The 11th seeded Warriors split in the Foxboro Winter Classic over February break, beating O'Bryant of Roxbury, 77-65 on Feb. 21, before falling to Winter Classic champion Dedham, 53-48, in the Feb. 22 title game. Scituate enters tonight's game having lost its last contest, 50-48 against Whitman-Hanson on Feb. 22 but the Sailors have won 8 of their last 10, including a recent six-game winning streak that was snapped in that Feb. 22 defeat. Here's breakdown of each team:
Medfield: The Warriors finished the regular season fourth in the Tri-Valley League, behind Dover-Sherborn, Hopkinton and Medway. Medfield is averaging 57.5 points per game while surrendering 53.8 points per game. The offense is led by freshman forward Drew Shea and sophomore guard Johnny McCarthy. Both players can knock down shots and spread the floor while Shea has the ability to crash the offensive boards with relative success. Sam Tawa, Tommy Conlon and Ben Coutinho are also several key contributors to the Warriors' offense.
On defense, the team is led by its forwards. Tawa, Conlon and Shea provide a solid inside presence that often forces opponents to take outside shots. The guards can "man-up" with their counterparts, keeping the ball in front of them but the team as a whole struggles to defend the perimeter as teams with 3-point shooters can find quality looks consistently throughout most games.
This is the second straight trip to the state tournament for the Warriors. Medfield entered the 2010 tourney as the field's seventh seed with a 14-6 record but fell in the first round to English, 67-63.
Scituate: The Sailors enter the MIAA state tourney as the bracket's sixth seed with a 13-7 record and as the 2011 Patriot-Fisher League Champions. Scituate's offense nets 65.5 points per game while its defense allows 60.4 points per game. Scituate returns to the state tournament after making an appearance in the D2 South Sectional semifinals in 2010, losing to Milton, 68-57. The Sailors defeated Sandwich in the first round, 71-68 and Wellesley, 71-54 in the quarterfinal round that year as the field's third seed with a 15-4 record.
Prediction: If you're familiar with Warriors Game Day and Medfield Patch's breakdown of boys' basketball games, you know it has been an up and down year for Big Blue. The Warriors have played some of their best and worst basketball within the same game on more than one occasion and the biggest question mark heading into the tournament is the one that has been lingering with this team all year: Can Medfield sustain its level of play for a full 32 minutes? The Warriors have experienced its share of winning streaks and losing streaks throughout the season. When they're playing their best basketball, they are playing aggressive defense and creating fastbreak points off turnovers. Medfield has the ability to knock down shots and score in the paint in the halfcourt but can also commit too many turnovers as a result of forcing the offense in the halfcourt situation. Perimeter defense is also a concern for Medfield, especially against a high-scoring Scituate team.
This game will come down to Medfield's defense vs. Scituate's offense. If the Warriors can limit the Sailors' scorers just enough and capitalize on those SHS missed opportunities, the Warriors have a chance to advance. But the Warriors MUST capitalize on those opportunities and more times than not this season, Medfield has given those opportunities right back to its opponents. This is a tough draw in the opener for Medfield and on the road does not make it any easier. Perhaps Medfield is a year too young for a tourney run this season but will ultimately benefit from the tournament experience. Scituate to win.
Smith's state tournament prediction record: 1-0
Smith's regular season prediction record: 54-15