FALL RIVER, Mass. -- Bridgewater-Raynham (10-11) battled back to tie the game at 55-55 with exactly five minutes left in the fourth quarter and then Durfee star forward Tyree Robinson made another in a long line of big plays for the Hilltoppers.
The junior transfer from Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburg made his fourth steal of the night and raced the length of the floor to power home a dunk that turned a packed Luke Urban Field House from tense to raucous.
“I already thought about windmilling it on the fast break, but I was like I’m just going to do something basic,” said Robinson, who finished with an impressive line of 28 points, nine rebounds, seven blocks, and four steals. He added, “They’re a good team, but we just played hard, played smart and got the ‘W.’”
Durfee coach Jameson Guimond marveled at Robinson’s natural ability to change a game and his desire to make plays at both ends of the court.
“He has the genetics for the game of basketball,” said Guimond. “You couple his athleticism with his desire to play and that’s what you see out there. He contests every shot, he battles for every offensive and defensive rebound, and you can see the passion coming out of him.”
The Trojans kept finding ways to get a basket and stay in the game, but that defensive stand and dunk were a much needed spark of momentum for Durfee (13-8), which overcame struggles with turnovers to pull out a 67-63 victory in the first round of the Division 1 South tournament.
Guimond reflected, “We jumped out early, the crowd was with us, but then basketball takes over, it slowed down and they came back into the game. We finished off a game that we knew would be tough.”
The Hilltoppers used the momentum of the large and noisy crowd to jump out to a 10-0 lead early in the first quarter. Robinson looked unstoppable with his array of post moves and several acrobatic blocks on the defensive end. By the end of the first quarter, Durfee had built a 24-13 lead and Robinson had 10 points.
The atmosphere in the building had the coach thinking of the long and proud history of basketball at Durfee and was thrilled at the energy lift that the fans gave the team.
“Fall River is a basketball city, so it’s nice to see Luke Urban alive and a lot of the old players back watching the game,” he said. “It’s what I grew up on.”
In the second quarter, the Trojans, who split the season series with Durfee with both teams winning on home court, started to creep back into the game behind the shooting of senior guard Jaime Carey. He scored 10 of his team-high 19 points in the second and, after a putback layup by Joe Freiday, the Trojans got the lead down to just two points at 32-30.
Robinson scored the game’s next six points, including a steal and transition slam, but Carey finished the half with a three-pointer to cut the lead to just 38-33.
In the third quarter, the Trojans’ defensive pressure ratcheted up a couple of notches and Durfee started to turn the ball over more frequently. After B-R got back within one at 38-37, Durfee used a 7-0 run to again extend the lead. The run included a couple of baskets from junior Melvin McWhorter, who scored 16 points on the night.
The Trojans made a 6-0 run of their own at the end of the quarter, including a layup by senior Rashad Bell (10 points). Off a steal, B-R had a chance to tie but Terrel Williams saw his layup roll off the rim as the buzzer sounded and Durfee went into the fourth with a 50-48 lead.
In the final period, Robinson showed what can happen when his passion goes a little too far. With his team leading by one, he spun on the baseline and threw down a two-hand dunk over Williams plus the foul. There was a lot of jawing that went on after the dunk that had the officials on edge and as the teams went to a timeout, Robinson and Freiday bumped into each other and the Durfee player received a technical foul.
“I talked to him after the game and I told him that overall it was a good game for him but he needs to watch his language on the bench,” said Guimond, who noted that he felt that Robinson was hit for a retaliation call and did not instigate it. He added, “He’s so passionate that sometimes it takes over.”
The Trojans would complete their comeback at the line. The first seven points that Bridgewater-Raynham scored in the fourth were free throws to tie the game, but Bell went just 1-4 and missed a pair that could have given the Trojans their first lead of the game.
At that point, Robinson made his big play to give the Hilltoppers an edge and junior Brendon Bindig came off the bench to score his only five points of the game in the final few minutes to help ensure Durfee advanced on to the next round and gets a shot at No. 4 seed Needham.
After the game, the talk was about Robinson, an All-State candidate, and his ability to take over a game.
“If you’re best player is doing all the little thing, diving on the floor, and doing all that stuff [then] if the other guys aren’t playing hard then I don’t know that they can live with themselves,” remarked Guimond.
Robinson added, “I put in 110 percent in everything I do. I’m grateful for the abilities that God gave me and I just like to work hard. When I see that basket and that ball, my mom always told me that’s my meal ticket out of the city.”