Boys’ hoop team tops Burlington in 61-57 nail-biter

Published in the February 10, 2016 edition

ZACH PRICE, a junior (#24), gave the Warriors a nice lift off the bench with 11 points in Wakefield’s 61-57 triumph over Burlington. Price also did a fine job on defense. (Donna Larsson File Photo)

ZACH PRICE, a junior (#24), gave the Warriors a nice lift off the bench with 11 points in Wakefield’s 61-57 triumph over Burlington. Price also did a fine job on defense. (Donna Larsson File Photo)


BURLINGTON — The boys’ basketball team has already clinched the Middlesex League Freedom division title and a state tournament berth. However the Warriors showed no sign of a letdown as they seek to earn a home game in the postseason.

Wakefield took a step toward that goal as it pulled out a hard fought 61-57 decision over Burlington last night at Burlington High School.

The Warriors increased their record to 12-5 overall and 11-4 in the league. While nothing is definite, 12 or 13 wins should be enough to secure at least one home game or two in the state tournament.

But the win didn’t come easy for the Warriors as the Red Devils (4-11) gave Wakefield everything it could handle. The two teams had a similar result in the first meeting at the Charbonneau Field House when Wakefield won by eight points (51-43).

Wakefield trailed after the first quarter, 13-9, and at halftime, 29-26. However after three periods, the contest was tied at 43-43 which meant the outcome wasn’t going to be determined until the final quarter or overtime.

The fourth quarter started with the teams trading three-point shots. Senior guard Corey Imbriano (a game high 19 points) sank two shots from beyond the arc. Burlington sophomore guard Mariano Rodriguez (12 points) and senior guard Kevin Coluci answered with treys of their own to tie the game at 49-49.

Senior center Andrew Auld (nine points) scored from inside with 6:27 left to give Wakefield the lead. But junior forward Mike DeMartinis (12 points) answered with a basket of his own.

Junior Zach Price (11 points) laid in a field goal with 4:49 left, but missed the free throw after being fouled on the basket. Imbriano then pulled up and recorded a jumper to give the Warriors a 55-51 lead with 4:21 left.

Rodriguez netted his fourth trey of the night to cut the lead to one just nine seconds later. Junior forward Kobey Nadeau (12 points) scored from inside cutting to the basket as the Warriors took a 57-54 lead with 3:47 left in regulation.

But DeMartinis canned a trifecta to tie the game at 57-57 with 3:34 left. Those were the last points of the game for the Red Devils.

About a minute later, Imbriano broke the tie with a layup with 2:39 remaining to put Wakefield up by two, 59-57.

After that, both teams had trouble getting shots to fall. Imbriano slid while taking a jumper and his shot hit the rim after a Burlington turnover. Junior guard Hakeem Anajarian whiffed on a three-point attempt with a minute left. Wakefield turned the ball over on a traveling violation with 55.9 seconds remaining. The hot-shooting Rodriguez missed on an attempt from beyond the arc with 45 seconds left.

Auld missed the mark with 20 seconds left but the ball went out of bounds off a Red Devil player as Wakefield was awarded possession of the ball. Burlington had three fouls to give before the bonus and it fouled three times. On the fourth foul with 11.6 seconds left, Imbriano went to the charity stripe to shoot a one-and-one.

Imbriano missed the free throw attempt but made a terrific play bouncing a ball off a Burlington player on the ensuing rebound before it went out of bounds giving the Warriors possession of the ball. Nadeau was immediately fouled with 10.2 seconds left and hit both free throws with the first one rolling around the rim before falling through the cylinder as Wakefield took a four point lead, 61-57.

Junior guard Will Melanson (18 points) attempted a three-point shot that missed. Coluci got the rebound but then turned the ball over as Wakefield got the ball as the buzzer sounded to end the contest.

“Burlington is a much better team than the record indicates,” said head coach Brad Simpson. “They’re very good at shooting the ball and they play well at home. They hit all those three-pointers (Burlington had 10 treys). We were resilient.”

The Warriors were also without junior forward Tighe Beck who had a left knee injury. Beck tried to give it a go but was unable to do as he was forced to sit out most of the contest.

“Tighe Beck hurt his knee and we decided to rest him and not risk him injuring it further,” said Simpson. “Other kids stepped up. Zach Price did an excellent job. He not only scored a few points but he also defended DeMartinis, one of their leading scorers. He did an excellent job on him defending him. He likes to score off the drive to the basket.

“Corey Imbriano had a big night,” continued Simpson. “Auld had a solid game and had a couple of key blocks.”

It was Senior Night in Burlington as the seniors were honored before the start of the game. When the contest started, Melanson sank a three-point shot and DeMartinis banked a shot off the glass with 6:10 left in the first quarter.

Senior Jon Miller (seven points) hit a runner on a pass from Auld with 5:24 left to get Wakefield on the scoreboard.

DeMartinis hit a three-point shot with 4:30 left in the quarter before Imbriano sank a trifecta with 3:38 left to cut the lead to 8-5.

After that, Auld picked up his second personal foul and joined Alex McKenna on the bench as both picked up two early fouls. Melanson had three free throw attempts since he was shooting from behind the arc. He hit one foul shot but on the miss on the final attempt, junior forward Fernando Lamin got the rebound and laid the ball in to put the home team in front, 11-5.

Nadeau scored from inside with 1:51 left and Imbriano recorded a layup with 31 seconds left to cut the lead to 11-9. But Melanson hit a runner with 8.2 seconds left to Burlington a 13-9 lead after one.

Nadeau recorded a basket while being fouled but missed the free throw to start the second quarter. But DeMartinis stole the ball from underneath his own basket and put it through the cylinder. Lamin made one of two free throws as Imbriano picked up his third foul and was forced to take a seat on the bench. Sophomore guard Tyler Cannon sank two foul shots as Burlington opened up an 18-11 lead with 5:28 left in the second.

That’s when Price gave the Warriors a lift with a pair of baskets to help keep the Red Devils within striking distance. Price scored on a runner with 4:58 left and then on a jumper with four minutes left. In between, Lamin recorded a layup.

Rodriguez hit a three-point shot with 3:46 to put Burlington up by eight points (23-15). Junior John Evangelista sank a trey to cut the lead down to five points but Melanson netted a shot from beyond the arc with 2:37 left to put the Red Devils up by eight again at 26-18.

Nadeau put back a missed shot and Auld hit a mid-range jumper to cut the lead down to four (26-22) with 1:58 left in the first half.

Melanson drove to the basket and Price recorded a layup. Anajarian hit one of two free throws before Nadeau scored a field goal with 7.4 seconds left as the Warriors trailed by three, 29-26, at halftime.

“At halftime, my assistant coaches — Bryan Sweeney, John Amentola, Dan Looney and Joe Leahy — talked to the players. I think sometimes they get tired of listening to me,” said Simpson. “One of the biggest things that was talked about was limiting second chances. Burlington had nine offensive rebounds in the first half. Teams had been averaging about five a game against us for the whole game. In the second half, they had just one offensive rebound and that was the difference. They hit their threes but we came up big at critical times.”

Rodriguez canned a trey to begin the third quarter but Miller answered with one of his own and then scored from inside with 4:06 left to cut the lead to 32-31. After a baseline shot by Melanson, Wakefield went on a 7-0 run to take its first lead of the contest. Price hit a trey to tie the game at 34-34. Imbriano scored on a pass from McKenna and recorded a layup to give the Warriors a 38-34 lead with 1:43 left in the frame.

Lamin scored from inside, but Auld scored from the low post as well for a 40-36 Warrior lead. Anajarian scored from the baseline and Melanson recorded a trifecta with 30.2 seconds left to put Burlington in front again, 41-40. Auld completed a three-point play with a basket and free throw, but Melanson hit a runner right before the buzzer as the contest was tied at 43-43 after three.

The Warriors ground out a hard fought win in the fourth quarter and will go for one more victory in the regular season finale on Friday night at 7 p.m. against Watertown at Watertown High School.


WAKEFIELD 61, Burlington 57

At Burlington High School


WAKEFIELD (61) — Beck 0 0 0; J.Miller 3 0 7; McKenna 0 0 0; Nadeau 5 2 12; Auld 4 1 9; Imbriano 8 0 19; Price 5 0 11; Evangelista 1 0 3; Carmilia-Smith 0 0 0; A.Miller 0 0 0. Totals 26 3 61.

Burlington (57) — Coluci 1 0 3; Lamin 3 1 7; DeMartinis 5 0 12; Shields 0 0 0; Melanson 7 1 18; Rodriguez 4 0 12; Selli 0 0 0; Cannon 0 2 2; Ikier 0 0 0; Anajarian 1 1 3. Totals 21 5 57.

Score by Quarters — WAKEFIELD 9-17-17-18 — 61. Burlington 13-16-14-14 — 57.

Three-point FGs — Wak, Imbriano 3, J.Miller 1, Price 1, Evangelista 1. Bur, Rodriguez 4, Melanson 3, DeMartinis 2, Coluci 1.