The Hyde boys JV basketball team improved to 9-0 with a hard-fought 64-50 victory over Wanyeflete. Before the matchup, the boys were focused—Wanyeflete is a very solid program and would pose a staunch test to the undefeated Phoenix. In the first, the Phoenix struggled with Wanyeflete’s size due to a 6’4, 6’3 front line for the home team. Sam Valentine ’14 had a busy day as he coached the third’s basketball team prior to the JV matchup. Similar to Clark Kent turning into Superman in a phone booth, Valentine took off his shirt and tie and entered the game off of the bench. Valentine was a force on both ends, boxing out larger players, moving the ball unselfishly and connecting on 3 three point field goals. Sam joked after the game that he was a ‘stretch four’. I prefer a 5’10 center. Ah, the joys of JV hoops. Hyde finished the first trailing by five.
The Phoenix began to enter a rhythm in the second quarter, due to the play of Cole Faulkner ’15. Faulkner, who recently earned a call up to varsity, took over the point guard duties to start the quarter, subsequently allowing captain Eric Stone ’14 to move to off guard. The move allowed Stone to enter a scoring mode—the burly guard scored eight of his 16 points in the second quarter. Faulkner also sparked the Phoenix on defense, playing his customary role of ‘waterbug’. For all you fans out there, a waterbug ( in basketball) is a short, feisty defender who harasses the ball handler. Pressure defense= turnovers and quick shots. Due to this defense, the Phoenix were able to cut the lead to two with one minute left in the half. After a textbook box out by rising freshman Greg Kidger, the Phoenix stormed down the court. Stone misfired on a jump shot but Andrew Palermo ’15 was able to tip the ball in at the buzzer. The score was tied at the half.
We’ve discussed in past entries the ability of this Phoenix team to heat up and reach a level that can best be described as ‘on fire’. Flaming nets, fist pumps and rabid cheering from the bench usually are the result of this state. The Phoenix played their best basketball of the season in the third quarter, forcing 10 turnovers, scoring 26 points on a quality opponent and blowing the game open. After switching to a 1-3-1 ¾ court press, the Phoenix took control of the game. Well timed traps and fundamental defense by freshman Alec Chapman and Valentine lead to fast break opportunities. The best part about the third quarter was the unselfish play of the players on the court. The emphasis of the season has been to share the basketball. As they’d say, sharing is caring. Sharing is also winning. The highlight of the third was a sequence of passes: a beautiful outlet by Kidger, a hard drive by Faulkner and a fundamental drop pass to a cutting Valentine. Yes, we practice these things.
The Phoenix finished the game strong and once again, all 13 players played a role in the outcome. For the 9th straight game, all players who dressed entered the game and made an impact. The Phoenix were led by Valentine ( 12 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists), Faulkner ( 12 points, 5 steals ) and Stone ( 16 points, 4/5 from the foul line ). The Phoenix have three games remaining…scheduled in a potential glorious triple header. Can they make history? 12-0? Time will tell.