Westport extends winning streak to eight games
Weary Wildcats rewarded after playing sixth game in 10 nights
By Steve Rogers
WESTPORT — The Westport High boys’ basketball team closed a hectic stretch of play in fine fashion when it recorded its eighth consecutive win by a 79-42 count over Southeastern Regional Friday night.
The victory pushed Westport’s overall record to 10-1 and kept the Wildcats unbeaten at 6-0 in the Mayflower League. Westport players were rightly rewarded following their sixth win in 10 days.
“This is the first weekend I’ve given off in seven years of coaching,” Westport coach Scot Boudria said. “I can’t even give an hour of practice.”
The coach was worried how his team would play in the finale of tough stretch of games. As it turned out, his worries proved to be unfounded.
“The pre-game talk was, ‘How well are you going to respond after playing five games in nine nights?’” Boudria said. “They were focused tonight. They were up to the challenge.”
On the youthful visitors bench the feeling was just the opposite. Southeastern, which has played the likes of Oliver Ames, Boston English, Cohasset and Cathedral, dipped to 2-2 in the league and to 2-6 overall.
“This is a new group. I think they’re getting beat up because we schedule some good competition,” Southeastern coach Dean Duquette said. “This is their first Mayflower league game in a while.”
Playing without Alan Herrin, Southeastern starting point guard and team high scorer, certainly hurt the Hawks, especially when the Wildcats turned up the full-court, trapping pressure. Westport forced 30 Southeastern turnovers and scored 26 points off the miscues.
“My two young freshman guards are kind of thrown into the fire,” Duquette said. “Alan is out with a high ankle sprain and they’ve been pressed ever since which is a good thing. They’re going to learn from it.”
The Wildcats again received balanced scoring with Jake Friar leading the way with 17 points. Chris Hartnett had 14 points, Tom Yeargin scored 13, including nine during a four-minute span of the game-icing run in the third quarter, and Justin Vincelette scored 10 points coming off the bench.
“We have a different high scorer every night,” Boudria said. “Even I don’t know who it is. We move the ball really well. That’s our key. In the years that I’ve coached this has been the most unselfish group of players that I’ve had.”
Westport started slowly before its pressure kicked in and helped the Wildcats end the first quarter with a 12-4 run to gain a 10-point lead. Westport initially had trouble dealing with Southeastern’s 2-3 zone defense before crisp passing side to side and over the top enabled the Wildcats to break free under the hoop or get some outside open looks.
“He went to a zone and our outside shooting really kicked in,” Boudria said. “It’s tough to play a zone against us because we move the ball well and we hit the open shot. I was real happy with that.”
The Wildcats pushed their first-quarter advantage to 16 at halftime as they went to the locker room with a 36-20 edge. Friar had 10 points and Hartnett scored nine in the first 16 minutes.
Westport was up 14 early in the third quarter when Hartnett and Friar each scored, the latter off a turnover, to bump the lead to 18. Southeastern high scorer Mike Ward, who finished with 16 points, scored to get the lead back to 16.
Then, after a Westport miss, Southeastern got the ball in the paint but missed a layup. A player from each team grabbed the ball and one of the Hawks was called for a foul. He slammed the ball to the floor and was whistled for a technical foul.
The Wildcats, already frustrating the Hawks, closed them out mentally too when they scored 17 straight points following the technical. Yeargin scored seven straight in the spurt, all off turnovers, as Westport closed the quarter with a 20-2 run. Then the Wildcats started final quarter with a 10-2 spurt for a 72-30 lead.
“It’s tough on (my players),” Duquette said. “They’re so young they don’t understand it’s a long season. They just have to learn under fire.”
Notes: Southeastern held a rebounding edge through three quarters before the Wildcats outrebounded the Hawks 13-5 in the final quarter for an overall 28-23 advantage. Westport shot 51 percent from the floor (33-for-65) compared to 38 percent (20-for-53) for Southeastern. Westport was 8-for-14 (57 percent) at the free-throw line compared to just 2-for-3 for Southeastern. The Wildcats made five of their 12 three-point tries while the Hawks misfired on all six of their shots from behind the arc.