Boston High School: Noma Okundaye
March, 5, 2013
By Ryan Lanigan | ESPNBoston.com
TAUNTON, Mass. –- Six-foot-five John Foster is set to play football at Cornell next fall, but his monster basketball performance on Tuesday night proved he's far from done at Scituate High School.
The senior captain poured in 28 points and grabbed 18 rebounds as the top-seeded Sailors beat Sharon 83-79.
“He’s just so strong,” Scituate head coach Matt Poireir said. “I watched what he did preparing for football. He’s worked so hard and you see the results and the strength right here. I’m extremely proud.”
It was a game of momentum swings, as Sharon took complete control in the first quarter (outscoring Scituate 26-18) only to have Scituate rally in the second quarter (outscoring Sharon 19-12). The Eagles were able to steal momentum heading into halftime as junior Jimmy Fritzson’s fall away three-pointer gave Sharon a 38–37 lead at the break.
Scituate came back out swinging in the third quarter to regain the lead 58-56 heading into the final frame. Despite only making three field goals in the fourth quarter, the Sailors shot 19-of-24 from the free throw line in just the final frame on their way to the win.
“Obviously it was a great high school basketball game,” Sharon head coach Bruce Jackman said. “We certainly couldn’t handle Foster. He was just a load inside and we tried everything we could defensively inside.”
It looked as though Sharon was going to have a chance to tie or take the lead with 31 seconds left, but Foster had other plans. Scituate’s Matt McRae missed both of his free throws, but Foster came up with a monster offensive board before being fouled himself. He was able to hit one of two to extend the lead to three. On the other end, Sharon was unable to convert a layup and lost the rebound out of bounds. A free throw from Tarran O’Toole made it 83-79.
Despite his potential game saving offensive rebound and his scoring, Foster refused to take any credit.
"It’s all because of my teammates,” Foster said. “We knew going in that they were a little undersized so they were going to feed it to me down low. I just had a lucky night and it went in for me.”
Even after battling over two Sharon players for the big rebound, he still didn’t take the credit.
“Their big man had fouled out at that point so I knew there was a size advantage but there was a lucky back rim bounce and it came to my hands,” he said.
The Sailors were able to weather an unbelievable offensive performance from Fritzson, who dropped 34 points in the loss. Classmate Brian Mukasa added 20 points.
"We had certain things we tried to do to contain because you can’t stop good players from being good players,” Poirier said. “They’re a very good team, they can shoot, they can run.”
The game was marred by fouls, especially in the fourth quarter. Both teams found themselves in the double bonus less than halfway through the quarter. There was a total of 35 free throws shot in just the fourth quarter. Scituate’s Noma Okundaye and Sharon's Ian Beach, Kevin Bartis, and Fritzson all fouled out in the game.
Scituate’s David Cox added 14 points, O’Toole had 11, with 7 of them coming off free throws in the fourth quarter, Okundaye finished with 10 and Ben McLarey notced 9 points. Beach was the only other Eagle in double figures with 15.
Scituate will now play the winner of Milton and Wellesley on Saturday at UMass-Boston in the D2 South Finals. The game is scheduled to tip off at 4:00.
A BRIGHT FUTURE
Sharon will graduate eight seniors, but both Mukasa and Fritzson will return to the Eagles next year. Mukasa has been a rock for Sharon for the past two seasons, but Fritzson has had a breakout season, mostly in the second half, that has opposing teams worried.
The two combined for 54 of the Eagle’s 79 points and are both incredibly talented shooters.
“With Fritzson and Mukasa coming back, along with Erik Kushner, who’s a real good vocal leader, we have a real good nucleus,” Jackman said.