MIKE WILKINSON had 20 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists in Wakefield’s OT win over Winchester on Tuesday night. The Warriors host Burlington in a battle for first place in the league tomorrow night at 7 p.m. (Brian Cusack Photo)
Gets ready to host 10-1 Burlington tomorrow night
By DAN PAWLOWSKI
WAKEFIELD — It came as no surprise that the biggest play of a gut-check, hard-hat game between the Wakefield and Winchester boys’ basketball teams on Tuesday night was a block.
With Wakefield leading Winchester 52-50 and about 30 seconds remaining in overtime, Winchester’s leading scorer John DeMichaelis flew to the hoop on a 2-on-1, a tie game imminent once again. Backpedaling on defense for the Warriors was Jackson McDermott, in his first game back since suffering an injury in Wakefield’s second game of the season. McDermott anticipated a euro step and met DeMichaelis at the apex, rejecting the layup attempt straight down as the ball bounced off the visitor, giving it back to Wakefield.
The fans gave McDermott (4 pts, 2 reb) a justified roar and the Warriors would end up holding on for a huge win, moving to 8-1 on the season as the Red and Black fell to 7-3.
That play was a microcosm of the game as the Warriors battled all night on the defensive end, especially early in the 2nd quarter when they faced their biggest deficit, down 18-8 without much working offensively.
Of course, Wakefield turned to leading scorer Mike Wilkinson (20 pts, 7 reb, 3 ast) in that moment, the senior captain drilling a contested 3 to snap his team out of it as Wakefield started to chip away.
A steal and easy bucket in transition from fellow senior captain Ethan Margolis (9 pts, 9 reb, 4 ast, 4 stl) made it 24-20 and a slick spin and two from Wilkinson in the paint cut into the lead even more as Wakefield finally got a chance to start running off of their stops.
An impressive lefty finish from De’Ari Burton (14 pts, 2 stl) tied it, 26-26 at the half.
The two teams were also tied after three quarters (35-35). McDermott and senior captain John Porter (2 pts, 4 reb, 2 stl) put their mark on the game in the 3rd, battling on the glass and working hard on their help defense to try and limit Winchester’s successful driving game. A Margolis crossover and lefty layup got the Red Sea going as both teams traded buckets and stops in a classic slugfest.
It should be no surprise that the 4th was even as well in a game that featured four ties and eight lead changes in the second half alone.
A McDermott steal and two gave the home team the advantage early in the 4th and a 3 from Burton later reclaimed the lead. DeMichaelis, who was aggressive going to the hoop all game, tied it up on a tough drive and finish and a late attempt from Wakefield wouldn’t go as the game went to overtime.
The OT period was sparked by Declan O’Callahan who calmly knocked down a 3. That was followed later by another clutch triple from Burton which made it 52-48.
Winchester’s bucket down low with two minutes left featured the last points of the game as both teams locked in and the Warriors held on for dear life, picking up a huge win against a team that is still on top of the Middlesex League Liberty Division standings.
Wakefield’s biggest game of the season to date will occur tomorrow night at 7 p.m. when they host Burlington. The Red Devils (10-1) are undefeated at 8-0 in league play while the Warriors are 7-1.
Wakefield was ranked 9th in the first Div. 2 power rankings while Burlington was ranked 10th.