Whether it was the importance of senior night or the hopes of staving off postseason elimination, there was a palpable electricity at Wakefield High School on Friday night, and it proved to be too much for Burlington to overcome as they fell to the Warriors 60-50 in overtime.
The score remained fairly close throughout the first half, but an 18-8 run for Burlington in the third gave the Red Devils an 8 point lead heading into the final few minutes of the contest.
But the Warriors clawed their way back, as key hoops late in the game from Keyon Armstrong and Kendall Hamilton helped Wakefield tie the game back up with 1:43 left to play in the contest, enough to send the game into overtime.
Their momentum would prove to be too much to overcome for the Red Devils as a pair of threes from Armstrong and senior captain Daniel Looney sealed the win for the Warriors.
Although the key shots from the Warriors were vital, their ability to hold Burlington to only seven points after the run in the third was equally crucial, something Burlington head coach Tom Lyons attributed to poor shot selection by his team in the final stretch.
“I thought we gave the game away, we should have won and we didn’t. We pulled up stupid shots at the end, and we handed that game to them on a silver platter,” said Lyons. “They played harder at the end, and because of that they deserved to win.”
Wakefield head coach Brad Simpson believes Burlington’s late collapse came due to a lack of stamina from their bench having to compensate for the lack of some key players, but he was still thrilled with the fact that he limited his opponents to 15 fewer points than their average despite an extra four minutes of playing time.
“This was a huge win for us, and that was probably an understatement. This was our third overtime game in as many weeks and the last two didn’t come out as well, so this was great,” said Simpson. Granted, in the first half and the third period they had a couple of nice runs, and that’s because they’re a very good team, but by overtime I think they missed a lot of shots because their legs were tired, and when that happens to you in Basketball, that really throws your game off.”
Armstrong was the high scorer of the night with 18 points overall, while Burlington’s Mark Melanson drained five scores from beyond the arc to lead the Red Devils with 17 on the night.
Burlington has already qualified for the Division II North Sectional Tournament and will finish off their regular season with contests against Winchester and Lexington, but Wakefield has their work cut out for them.
With their win against the Red Devils, the Warriors are currently at 5-7 against Division II foes in the Middlesex League, which means a loss against either Reading or Melrose in their final two games of the season would mean elimination from postseason play.