The Marblehead boys basketball team is moving on to the Elite 8 thanks to Miles O’Neill’s heroics, but they got to that point in a dog fight against No. 23 Pembroke on Thursday, March 2.
In a game where the biggest lead for either team was six points, the Magicians held off a gritty Titans team 60-57 in front of their home crowd.
In the fourth quarter, Marblehead was clinging to its 38-37 lead. Pembroke opened the fourth on a 5-0 run as Joey Dwyer swished a three-pointer and Brady Spencer finished a tough layup in major traffic – plays that gave Pembroke a 42-38 lead in a blink.
Marblehead answered immediately. Senior Ty Countrymon found junior Nick Lemmond open at the three-point line, who canned it to cut the deficit to one (42-41) with seven minutes remaining.
“The one thing, on the offensive end, that we emphasized is to get the ball, whether it was off a defensive rebound or an inbounds, and go as much as we could,” Marblehead coach Mike Giardi said.
Junior Miles O’Neill made his presence felt in the fourth, finishing two consecutive offensive rebound putbacks for Marblehead. O’Neill completed a three-point play on the second one, which tied the game 46-46 with 5:40 remaining.
“We are a good team when we are in attack mode,” Giardi said.
Marblehead was down 49-48 with three minutes remaining, but Lemmond finished a strong right-handed drive – plus the foul – to put the hosts ahead 51-49.
After some back-and-forth action, Dwyer got a decent look at a game-winning three for Pembroke, but the shot clanged off the rim and Isaiah Makor corralled the rebound to secure a Magicians win.
Giardi liked how his team responded towards the end of the game.
“The kids did not get down… and stayed focused on the task at hand,” Giardi said. “They did a great job contesting without fouling and Isaiah [Makor] just skyed for the rebound.”
Marblehead had a balanced scoring attack led by Ryan Commoss (16 points and eight rebounds), Countrymon (13 points and nine assists), Lemmond (12 points and six assists), Makor (eight points and 13 rebounds), and O’Neill (seven points and 12 rebounds).