Devon Breen calm under pressure, lifts Watertown in home opener
December 12, 201812 Views
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In the final minute of regulation, it takes a person with a certain mind-set and cool demeanor to make a shot with the game on the line. Many are not up to this challenge and will be unable to convert when everyone is watching.
Devon Breen has practiced these situations too many times to become one of these people.
Down 65-64 with 14.7 seconds left in the home opener Dec. 11, the Watertown junior calmly walked up to the free throw line and sank two foul shots, putting the Raiders up by 1 point over the Winchester Sachems.
What was going through Breen’s mind as he stood on the line?
“Absolutely nothing,” he said. “I’ve taken game-winning free throws probably 15 times from third grade to now. If you think too much, you’re gonna mess something little up.”
Whatever Breen told himself worked, as his free throws hit nothing but net to make the score 66-65.
With the work not being done, Breen hustled back on defense and blocked the layup of a driving Sachem. He secured the rebound, was fouled, and hit two more free throws to secure the 68-65 victory for the Raiders.
“I was a little bit nervous I was gonna be called for a foul, but I knew had to get that block,” Breen said. “If I didn’t get it, that was the game.”
On a night with many Watertown players in foul trouble, Breen had four fouls but continued to play strong defense nevertheless. One more foul would have sent him out of the game, but he managed to last to the final buzzer to finish with 16 points and the win for his team.
Winchester jumped out to an early lead but Watertown fought back. The Sachems led 29-28 at the half.
In the second half, Watertown took back the lead and went on a run, extending their margin to 8 points in the fourth quarter. With 5:14 remaining in the fourth quarter, Henry Papadopoulos, the Raiders’ senior captain and leading scorer (17 points), fouled out of the game. Senior co-captain Chris Iannetta fouled out a minute later, forcing head coach Steven Harrington to go to his bench for the final minutes.
Winchester capitalized on the absence of the Watertown seniors and stormed back to take a 1- point lead with 44.7 seconds to go before Breen would knock down his game-sealing free throws.
It was a balanced offensive night for Watertown, with sophomore point guard Gabe Spinelli adding 15 points and senior guard Nick McDermott scoring 12 on perfect 4-for-4 shooting from the 3-point line.
As the Raiders attempt to defend their Division 3 state championship, they will do it without four starters from last year. However the team’s expectations are in no way changed.
“It was great to get our first win,” Breen said. “We won [the state championship] last year and we wanted to make a statement. If people come at us, we’re going to respond.”
–Dec. 11, 2018–
Nathan Follett is a longtime member of the Raider Times staff. Beginning in September 2018, he is serving as Sports Editor.