Greens Farms Academy Boys' Basketball Claims Unprecedented Third Consecutive New England Prep School Class C Championship.
The Greens Farms Academy boys varsity basketball team claimed an unprecedented third consecutive New England Prep School Class C tournament championship. In a game laced with late drama, GFA defeated the Winchedon School of Massachusetts, 64-53. The big drama started at 10:57 remaining mark, with GFA leading by 11 points. The game's MVP, Dragon senior guard, Jim Djema went down as he twisted a knee on a drive to the basket. Most recently, in the FAA tournament quarter finals at an eerily similar point in the game, Djema was knocked out by an elbow- induced gash in his scalp. In that game, GFA saw their 16 point lead and shot at the FAA tournament title evaporate. Without Djema's senior leadership, the GFA offense imploded into a rash of fatal turnovers. That did not happen today in the New England title game. Djema's youthful teammates showed a new level of maturity and resolve. Freshman Henry Holzinger, Sophomore Evan Roteman, Juniors Chile Larraguibel and Isaac Manton rose to the enormity of the moment.
The Dragons went into their clock-burning offense for about a seven minute sequence.
By the 3:57 remaining mark, Winchendon had clawed their way back to a mere 55-51 deficit. That forced GFA to shift gears back into the attacking offense mode. Stepping back on the offensive pedal seemed to also energize the Dragons' defensive intensity, and that won the game for them. They essentially did not allow Winchendon to score again until the waning final seconds of the game.Sunday Okeke, Manton and Larraguibel added more nails into the Winchendon coffin by going six for six at the foul line in the final stretch of intentional fouling.
The game-within-the-game between 6'8" Okeke and 6'9" Boris Ulker of Winchendon was impressive. On his offensive end, Okeke was powering his way to the hoop with a variety moves, scoring 16 points. On the other end of the court, Ulker forced Okeke to chase him out on the perimeter, with 3-for-4 shooting from beyond the arc and some fly-by moves for a total of 18 points. Per Dragons coach Doug Scott "Winchedon is loaded with a bunch of long range snipers who shot their way into this title game. We decided that we didn't want to ever leave those guys unguarded by playing help defense, so that basically turned a part of the game into this high level one-on-one contest of Okeke guarding Ulker. Ulker ended up scoring a third of his points when Sunday went to bench for a breather. So Ulker scored, but not enough to beat us. That tactic enabled us to run guys like Larraguibel, the Mantons (Isaac and Jake), (Pat ) Seegers, (Mack) Muller, and Holzinger right up into the grills of all of those shooters, shutting them down. We picked the right poison, and survived it for the win.”
The ever lethal Zach Baines did his part for the Dragons as well. He scored 17 points on a variety of acrobatic moves, including a high flying alley-oop dunk to start the second half.
If the game MVP trophy could have been split three ways, Baines would have three-peated as the Championship game's MVP. He would have shared it with Okeke, who also pulled down 20 rebounds. As it worked out, Djema was clearly the crowd favorite as he was carried by his teammates to fetch both the team trophy and his MVP award.
Manton was big for the Dragons as well, scoring 11 and becoming the key play maker when Djema went down. Senior Dugald Shannon stepped in to give both Baines and Okeke critical breathers, earning his piece of another GFA gym banner