It took all 32 minutes of game play, but the Raiders eventually came out on top.
The Watertown boys’ basketball team eked out a victory over the Fenway High School Panthers, 52-50, on Wednesday night in Watertown.
The Raiders led for almost the entire game, but Fenway worked away at the lead throughout the night. With 6.4 seconds remaining, the Panthers had a final possession to tie the game, but Watertown senior captain Chris Iannetta stole the ball and clinched the win.
As the temperature outside dipped below freezing, inside Kelly Memorial Gymnasium Gabe Spinelli was heating up. The sophomore guard was cooking early, as he scored the team’s first 9 points on a combination of quick moves and strong penetration.
Spinelli said he knew going into the game that he could exploit Fenway’s man defense, and that’s just what he did. He dropped 25 points with a mixture of 3-pointers and pretty finishes through the traffic of the tall Fenway defenders.
For the Panthers, senior Melvin Cuevas used his speed and athleticism to score 26 points before he fouled out.
Watertown captain Henry Papadopoulos has battled foul trouble this season, but the senior managed to put up 19 points before collecting his fifth foul and sitting out. Junior Devon Breen (5 points) fouled out shortly after, leaving the Raiders shorthanded for the final minutes of the fourth quarter. Yet they still managed to come up with two big stops without their starters.
“It’s obviously really tough to have to watch your team from the sideline and not be able to do anything about it,” Papadopoulos said. “It’s great to have guys on the bench that I know no matter what are gonna play like dogs and do whatever they can do come out with the W, and tonight luckily they did that successfully.”
The Panthers had two chances to tie the game, and the Raiders held fast both times, which Papadopoulos says is a testament to the team’s toughness.
Fenway regained possession with seconds remaining and called its final timeout. Iannetta said he was confident coming out of the timeout that the Raiders would be able to get one final stop. Senior Jonathan Barnes pushed the ball up the court for the Panthers, pressured to the left side by senior captain Nick McDermott. Iannetta swooped in to poked the ball away and dribble out the clock, securing the Watertown victory.
“With Devon and Henry fouled out, it was going to be tough, so it was important for everyone to do their job on the last defensive possession,” said Iannetta.
“Overall they are a good team and it was a good test for us. It was good to get a win and also see some of the areas we can improve on going back to Middlesex League play before the [MIAA state] tournament begins.”
Watertown improved to 8-6, while Fenway dropped to 8-3.
“This was a huge win and I’m glad we were able to pull through,” said Papadopoulos of Wednesday’s effort.
–Jan. 30, 2019–