By Kevin McCaskill Jr.
The Panthers from Paulo Freire got a close win over the Spartans of East Longmeadow on Friday, in East Longmeadow.
FP SPORTS was at that game and you can read about it here.
The Spartans rallied from behind and almost beat the Panthers on Friday so they were poised to try and get a victory on the road in Springfield.
The Panthers played a make-up game on Saturday in Amherst. They only had one day of rest. Tonight, they were without normal starter Zyir Harris.
The game was tight through the 1st and 2nd quarters. Early on, Sandro Diaz made some shots in the paint for the Panthers. He got those points from offensive rebounds and dribble penetration by Chandler Wilson. The Panthers were off all night, in terms of shooting. They missed some make-able jump-shots and shots around the rim.
East Longmeadow had some tough calls go against them in the 1st quarter. Senior Guard Cam Shaw drove on the baseline and tried to make a reverse layup. He was called for a travel. A play or two later, he asked me, “Did I travel on that play”? I shook my head to non-verbally say, “No”. The Spartans had a few more travels and offensive fouls called on them that could have been non-whistles, especially the offensive fouls.
Early in the 2nd quarter, Paulo Freire was holding firmly on to the lead. They continued to be active on the offensive “glass”. East Longmeadow was missing shots all over the court. They made enough to stay in the game though.
Usually, the Panthers deploy a “2-2-1” full-court press. It’s usually effective. Tonight, the Panthers chose to play a different type of press in the 2nd quarter. Whenever Ray Carter or Shaw would get the ball over the half-court line, two defenders for Paulo Freire would swarm the ball handler.
(Ray Carter goes up for a layup)
That press backfired on the Panthers. Shaw and Carter sliced through the double teams or extended their dribble to make passing lanes for their teammates to operate in space. The Spartans got wide open shots and started to make them. Close to the 2-minute mark in the 2nd quarter, the Spartans tied the game and then took the lead 26-23 😳.
(Cam Shaw attempts a layup)
They went on a 7-3 run in the final 2 minutes of the 2nd and they led the Panthers at halftime 33-26.
The Spartans maintained their lead throughout the 3rd quarter. The Panthers couldn’t hit jump-shots all night. Junior Will Johnson had a tough game from the floor tonight. He finished with 9 points. The Panthers were led in scoring by Alex Barber. He had 15. Sandro Diaz had 14 points. Chandler Wilson finished with 10 points.
With 5 minutes left in the 4th quarter, Paulo Freire was down 13 points. The Panthers “2-2-1” full-court press was deployed in full effect. They began to get turnovers and missed shots by the Spartans.
The Panthers got within 1-point, 58-57, after a steal and a dunk by Emmanuel Cruz (his second dunk of the game).
The Spartans ran off enough clock and hit enough free throws to get the win.
Cruz did have an opportunity to hit a 3 and tie the game but he missed it.
East Longmeadow was led in scoring by Ray Carter. He poured in 20 points for the Spartans including two 3s. Anthony Guimares had 16 points; Cam Shaw had 10 points.
(Cam Shaw and Anthony Guimares, East Longmeadow Seniors)
After the game I spoke with East Longmeadow HC Brendan Abad and Senior Jack Sweeney:
🔑🔑 to victory tonight:
“So the keys for us every single game are: rebounding, defense, taking care of the ball and getting high quality shots. We think we did all of those really well. Against a team like this, you pretty much have to play flawless basketball in order to win and that’s what we did. We took care of the ball, we boxed out and got rebounds on the offensive and defensive glass. We got really high quality shots. And most importantly, our defense was unbelievable. We got back in transition. We [were able to] build our half-court man-to-man defense...when they are in transition, they are very hard to guard. Our game-plan...was to get back, get in the paint - get a “foot-touch” - execute our defensive fundamentals and that’s what we did...”
Did you focus on breaking the “Paulo Freire Press”?
“Yea, we just executed our press offense all week in practice. They gave us fits last time at our place...”
What were you telling your players down the stretch as the game got closer?
One thing we were telling them is, ‘weather the storm; take their punch, get up and keep going forward’. We knew they would make their run; they’re a talented basketball team...we knew they would make their run but we did a good job of staying poised, keeping composure...and finishing the game. That’s a hard win and we beat a really good team.”
How did you feel out there tonight?
“We felt good comin’ in...we wanted to work hard today and get the win. They are a good team...and we just had to ‘fight’, ya know? That whole entire game was [about] heart”.
Both teams played well but Carter, Shaw and Guimares were too much for Paulo Freire.
[I’ll keep you updated on where I will be this week 🗺]