(VIDEO) Newton North Prevails, as Wright and Timberlake Star in Match-Up

Friday, February 10th, 2017

(VIDEO) Newton North Prevails, as Wright and Timberlake Star in Match-Up
Ethan Wright '18 - Newton North

By Nate Weitzer for Mass Prep Stars

BRAINTREE, Mass. – The stars shined bright in a battle between Bay State Conference rivals, as two of the leading scorers in the state put on a show.

Braintree’s Nick Timberlake (39 points, 6 rebounds) and Newton North’s Ethan Wright (31 points, 3 assists, 4 steals) traded blows throughout an extremely tight affair on Friday night, but eventually Wright’s Tigers were able to pull away for a narrow 68-64 victory.

At first, Timberlake and his teammates seemed to be in charge at home. The senior hit six of his first seven attempts from the floor and his first four attempts from the line before capping the first quarter with a three-pointer to make it 21-12 Wamps.

Wright, who was coming back from a six-game absence due to an ankle injury, struggled to find his offensive rhythm and took a seat halfway through the first, but emerged stronger at the beginning of the second quarter while leading the Tigers on an 18-9 run to tie the game at 30.

“It took a little time to get back into it,” Wright admitted. “I hadn’t even practiced yet, so this was my first opportunity and eventually I started to feel good out there.”

With Wright scoring in the paint as well as at the free throw line, the Tigers (14-4; 10-4) were able to hang around before taking their first lead at 42-40 late in the third quarter.

Braintree (10-6; 10-4) climbed on the back of Timberlake and tied the game at 47 heading into the fourth quarter, but the supporting cast for Newton North proved to be the difference.

Junior point guard Noah Neville (10 points) and freshman forward Aaron Cooley (10 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks) played tremendously down the stretch, and it was Cooley who cooled off Timberlake with some solid individual defense in the fourth quarter.

With just over a minute to play, Wright put the finishing touches on a team win with an up-and-under lay-up to make it 64-59 and the Tigers were able to hang on from there.

“We’re glad to have [Wright] back,” Cooley said. “It was hard without him, but we fought through it and now he’s back. The other team needs to realize that Ethan [Wright] is a great player, but we have 15 great players on this team and the next guy can step up.”

“When you take 26 points per game out of our lineup [in Wright], you have to make some adjustments. I’m real proud of the way our guys stepped up. Through his injury, some other guys have been able to find themselves and find confidence in their own game.”

“Ethan [Wright] hasn’t played in six games, Chris is in foul trouble, but other guys stepped up. It’s a team game and guys have to be willing to sacrifice.

Wright with a big basket down the stretch.

“For me personally, this has been a really rewarding team to coach. I have to remind myself of their youthfulness. We have a lot of new players, but they’re doing a great job.

“[Cooley] causes matchup problems at both ends of the court because his length allows him to guard so many different positions. And then on the offensive end, when you put extra attention on Ethan [Wright] and Chris [Matthews], Noah [Neville] and Cooley can serve as those other weapons for us.”

“I’ve played against [Timberlake] a lot over the past couple of years and he always has great games against us. He’s a great kid, a great competitor and I love battling against him.”

“Braintree’s one of our toughest competitors and coming down here to get a big win after the rough stretch we had is a great way to project success for our team going forward.”

“It’s been a great opportunity to play with so many great players. They’ve showed real love and communication, coaching me on and off the floor and it’s great to be able to contribute.”

“We’re glad to have [Wright] back. It was hard without him, but we fought through it and now he’s back. The other team needs to realize that Ethan [Wright] is a great player, but we have 15 great players on this team and the next guy can step up.”

 

Stars Who Shined

 

Newton North

Ethan Wright ‘18 G – With Wright inactive, the Tigers defeated Wellesley and Weymouth before dropping consecutive conference tilts to Brookline and Framingham.

Newton North bounced back to edge Brockton and Norwood, yet they did not resemble an elite team without their superstar and the second-leading scorer in the state.

“When you take 26 points per game out of our lineup [in Wright], you have to make some adjustments,” recognized Tigers head coach Paul Connolly. “I’m real proud of the way our guys stepped up. Through his injury, some other guys have been able to find themselves and find confidence in their own game.”

Aaron Cooley ‘20 F – One of the players who seemed to find more confidence in their game is the Tigers 6-foot-4 freshman.

Cooley is a lanky lefty, capable of guarding all five positions on the defensive end and knocking down threes on the other end, which is why his head coach is singing his praises.

Cooley finishes a nice pass from Wright.

“[Cooley] causes matchup problems at both ends of the court because his length allows him to guard so many different positions,” said Connolly. “And then on the offensive end, when you put extra attention on Ethan [Wright] and Chris [Matthews], Noah [Neville] and Cooley can serve as those other weapons for us.”

Timberlake nearly brought the house down with an alley-oop finish early in the third quarter, but Cooley immediately responded with a three-pointer to tie the game at 36.

A couple of plays later, Cooley hit another three when the Wamps tried to trap Wright near the timeline and he also made his impact on defense by helping to hold Wamps power forward Anthony Peacock (10 points, 8 rebounds, 3 blocks, 3 assists) scoreless in the second half.

Chris Matthews ‘18 G – While his playing time was limited due to foul trouble, Matthews got the Tigers offense going with six points in the first quarter and he hit several key free throws in the second half to finish with 10 points and three rebounds.

His presence as a secondary scorer has been crucial for the Tigers during their stretch without Wright and now he should be able to keep defenses honest as another playmaker.

Mathews with ths finish.

 

Braintree

Nick Timberlake ‘17 G – The leading scorer in the state lived up to his reputation with an extremely efficient line.

Timberlake carried the Wamps offense throughout this contest and took advantage of nearly every opportunity, even hitting a corner three to make it 66-63 when the game appeared to be over in the final minute.

He also picked Wright’s pocket with 11 seconds remaining, but was called for an erroneous foul to the crowd’s dismay, as he came just one errant whistle away from a 40-point game.

“I don’t throw around a lot of compliments, but [Timberlake] has gotten so much better. He’s making smart plays, great athletic plays, and his feel for the game is excellent. [The Wamps] needed him to get 40 to win the game and he’s good enough that he almost did it,” Connolly effused.

Wright added that he has nothing but respect for his adversary and fellow superstar in the Bay State Conference.

“I’ve played against [Timberlake] a lot over the past couple of years and he always has great games against us. He’s a great kid, a great competitor and I love battling against him.”

 


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