WAKEFIELD — The Wakefield High boys’ basketball team advanced to the Round of 32 of the MIAA D2 Tournament with a blowout 67-41 win over Bay Path RVT on Wednesday night at the Charbonneau Field House. 

The Bay Path Minutemen were the 63rd ranked out of 64 schools in Division 2 but since they finished the season with an 11-9 record, they were entitled to a preliminary round game. Wakefield was ranked 23rd to end the year and was the highest ranked team to participate in a prelim. 

This triumph was led by a dynamic game from the trio of senior captain De’Ari Burton, sophomore Jack Millward and junior Matt Beaver who combined for 60 of the Warriors’ 67 total points. Burton had his first double-double of his career with 14 points and a career-high 10 assists; Millward tied his career high of 28 points for the second game in a row and Beaver nailed six 3-pointers, also a career-high.

Though the game ended with a convincing win for Wakefield, the first quarter did not display the dominance they would have later in the night. The Warriors shot just 6-for-16 in the quarter but only briefly trailed as Bay Path was struggling tremendously as well from the field. 

Minutemen junior Corey Scovil turned quick to the hoop from the right block to give his team a 4-3 lead with 4:41 left in the first quarter but senior captain Connor Mauriot drained a triple 15 seconds later that recaptured the lead for the Warriors. From that point on, Wakefield would never trail in this game but Bay Path did their best to keep pace. 

The Minutemen tied the game up on a pick-and-roll bucket for Matteo Mastrototaro crashing to the hoop but then awoke Millward on the offensive end for Wakefield as he ran the floor for an easy two off of a Burton steal and then pulled up from midrange a possession later, banking the shot in with a foul tacked on. Senior captain Jackson McDermott added another bucket as he charged aggressively to the basket through tough defense to keep the Warriors in rhythm. A defensive lapse by Wakefield allowed Mastrototaro another pair of points rolling to the hoop but Beaver responded quickly as he pulled up and hit from deep as soon as the ball hit his hands. Scovil got one final post possession to end in a basket for Bay Path to close the quarter, leaving the Warriors leading 15-10 after the first.

The second quarter began with the same shooting struggles the Warriors had in the opening quarter. Every shot by Wakefield was a good take but it seemed finding the bottom of the basket was the issue. As for Bay Path, they began to get more aggressive, drawing six free throws in the first two minutes. They hit five of these attempts and trailed the Warriors because of an open 3 by Burton from the right wing. A steal by Beaver led to a transition layup for Millward as he continued to run the floor well at any opportunity. 

Trailing by five, Scovil used great footwork in the post to get himself another basket inside, followed by the first 3 of the game for the Minutemen by junior Dale Nussey to tie the game at 20 a piece and send a strong signal to the Warriors that they would have to wake up on both sides of the ball. 

The offense went to work immediately as McDermott pulled down two offensive rebounds in a row and then sprayed out to Millward at the top of the key for an in-rhythm 3. Mastrototaro found his way back to the paint for Bay Path but Burton was right there to cancel out those points as he put some english on the finish after blowing by his defender. 

Millward then took control of the offense in the final minute of the first half. The Warriors’ leading scorer spun past his defender for an easy pair in the paint, then slipped a screen and nailed a 3 with a light contest to put Wakefield up 32-22 at the half.

The third quarter came up all Matt Beaver from the very beginning. The junior center eagerly released a trifecta from the right corner to kick off the second half. The Minutemen seemed to not take Beaver’s floor spacing abilities seriously but they would soon learn to. Bay Path cut the Wakefield lead down to eight with back-to-back 3’s by Ed Simon and Dale Nussey three minutes into the quarter but Beaver was there to respond with more offense. The big man took initiative as he shook of his defender with a jab step, opening up his second triple to fall in the quarter. It continued to rain from beyond the arc for Beaver as his defender got lost in traffic on the next possession, allowing him to set up in the corner where Burton connected with him for the catch-and-shoot triple. 

“It was my job to find the open man,” said Burton after his career-high, 10-assist game, connecting with Beaver many times. “‘Beav’ knocked down a ton of shots, got our rhythm going.” 

Beaver hit his fourth 3 of the quarter to extend the lead even further, draining from every area around the arc like there was no defense in sight. 

“I was just shooting my shots, I wasn’t even thinking about it,” said the Warriors’ sixth-man on his cold-blooded performance in the second half. “I was just catching and shooting, that’s it.” 

That fourth 3 by Beaver in the quarter sparked an 11-0 run by Wakefield to close out the third. Within that run, Millward hit a 3 to follow the theme of the quarter, Burton converted a tough and-one as he created a 3-point play of his own and junior Jackson Fitzpatrick cleaned up the offensive glass for two points on a fast break. This left the Warriors leading by 20 heading into the final eight minutes.

The fourth was a mundane showing from Bay Path as they seemed to have their spirit fully knocked out by the superstar showing from beyond the arc in the third from Wakefield. Burton and Millward took turns breaching the paint as they matched a basket by the Minutemen with little resistance, as the visitors seemed to have no incentive to defend with a comeback looking impossible. Just for good measure, Beaver nailed his sixth 3 of the game to solidify his career high and cap the scoring for Wakefield at 67 points with just 1:35 left in the game. 

This was an incredible showing from Beaver all around as he fell just one rebound short of his second career double-double and was the second leading scorer for Wakefield as the first man off the bench.

Wakefield took on No. 10 Doherty in a first round matchup on the Highlanders’ home court in Worcester on Saturday. Doherty pulled out a hard-fought 75-67 victory, advancing to the Sweet 16 and ending Wakefield’s season at 14-8 overall. A full story will appear later this week.