Scituate boys’ hoop team continues strong second half

Scituate boys’ hoop team continues strong second half

Scituate’s Logan Butkins, #10, gets ready to put in a fast break layup as a Davies defender does his best to keep up with him during last Friday night’s Division III game. The Spartans, who rolled to an 83-30 victory, entered Wednesday night’s showdown against undefeated Wheeler with six victories in their last seven games. (Breeze photo by Kayla Panu)
Playoff-bound Spartans grab last-second victories from Tiverton, Exeter/West Greenwich

NORTH SCITUATE – After losing all five of its games last December, including two at the West Warwick Holiday Tournament, the Scituate High boys’ basketball team has clearly turned things around during the past five weeks.

On Monday night, the Spartans improved to 8-6 in Division III-North play by defeating Exeter/West Greenwich, 59-58, and prior to that win, they took a 61-60 thriller in Tiverton on Jan. 30 and rolled over winless Davies, 83-30, last Friday night at home.

The Spartans entered Wednesday night’s game in Massachusetts against the unbeaten Wheeler School with six wins in their last seven games, and those victories helped them pull their record above .500 for the first time this season.

“We dug ourselves an early hole this season,” Scituate head coach Ralph Apici said after the victory over Davies. “(The win) puts us in the middle of the pack, and hopefully we can build on it for the playoffs. I think early in the season, we didn’t really know what we had. We were kind of tinkering around with a few things, but I think we are playing fairly well now.”

The victory over Tiverton, which has the league’s second-best record at 11-2, saw Max Pierce win the game with a three-pointer with five seconds on the clock. Pierce, Matt Weller, and Sean Tipple each scored 15 points in that upset win.

“We were down 14 in the first half, but we fought back to get it to five (at halftime),” Apici said. “And as the game went on, we started executing a little better. In the second half, we fell down by nine, but again, we fought back. Our press worked really well against them, and then we set up a play with 11 seconds left. It was a thing of beauty, for the simple reason that the ball never touched the ground, and (Pierce) hit the three in the corner.”

Four nights later, Scituate hosted Davies, scored first on a three-pointer by Weller, and never looked back, as the Spartans jumped out to a 12-2 lead with buckets by Ben Russo, Weller, and Pierce, as well as a three-pointer by Steve Santanelli. Weller scored a game-high 17 points, Pierce tossed in 14, and Santanelli had 13.

“Tonight, we thought this could have been a trap game,” Apici said, “so our focus was just coming out, playing hard, and running the floor well.”

The Spartans, who saw all 12 of their players score at least one point, also sank 11 three-pointers in the game, four by Santanelli.

“Since I’ve been here, for the last 10 years, that’s been our game,” Apici said. “We are a perimeter team. We also know that you always work the ball inside out to get what you need on the perimeter. We shot the ball well, and we got everyone to play tonight.”

Like the win over Tiverton, Scituate’s victory over EWG provided a fantastic finish, this one coming from Tipple, who sank a deep three-pointer at the buzzer to win the game. Fox Fay led the Spartans with 15 points, and Santanelli and Tipple each added 13.

The Spartans have two games to go before the end of the regular season. They will host another team that has played very well as of late, neighboring rival Ponaganset, on Friday at 7 p.m., and next Monday, they will visit North Smithfield.

“We’re very motivated to finish the season strong and improve our seeding,” Apici said.