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The Maine East basketball team stormed out to an eight-point lead in the first four minutes of Deerfield’s 58-40 win before running into a proverbial brick wall Friday night.
The Warriors were able to weather the Blue Demons’ initial jolt by locking in defensively. Deerfield allowed 29 points in the final 28 minutes of Friday night’s game by successfully clogging the lane, wearing down the Blue Demons’ back court with full-court pressure and forcing Maine East to take bad shots in its half-court offense.
Offensively, junior Eric Porter pulled Deerfield out of its slow start with a pair of first quarter threes before senior Tony Shapiro caught fire in the second quarter. Shapiro hit three-straight 3-pointers in the second quarter to help Deerfield (5-4, 1-2 CSL North) build upon its lead. The Warriors never trailed after taking a 14-13 lead at the end of the first quarter.
“We let them get out to that first lead and then we came in after the first quarter and we just talked to each other,” Shapiro said. “We were like, ‘We can’t let this happen anymore. We’ve got to come together as a team and play defense and shut them down.’”
Shapiro, the game’s high scorer with 15 points, was supported by senior Alexander Glantz, who scored 12 points on only five shots from the field.
Deerfield junior Michael Alfieri added 10 points and snared a game-high seven rebounds, while also battling Maine East standout Ezeke Omeke in the post. The Blue Demons (2-5, 1-2 CSL North) regularly fed the ball to the 6-foot-4 forward in the paint, but Alfieri defended Omeke well and drew the sophomore’s fourth foul with 39.1 seconds remaining in the third quarter. The Warriors (5-4, 1-2) led 41-30 at that point in the game, and continued playing stingy defense in the fourth quarter.
“We gave a great effort in the first quarter and it’s been our pattern that we disappear in the second quarter, and we did,” Maine East coach Dave Genis said. “They put a little more pressure on us, and we just didn’t handle the physical play. They out-hustled us – they got loose balls, rebounds. We just kind of stopped playing.”