The most competitive TVL boys basketball season in years is reaching its conclusion this week. While some questions about which teams will qualify for the MIAA tournament and what seeds they will get remain unresolved, champions of the TVL Large and TVL Small divisions will be celebrated before we fall asleep Friday night.
Win and Get Fitted for a Crown
In the Small, if Dedham can win at Millis on Friday night, they’ll sit alone atop the champion’s perch. Dedham appeared to be the runaway winner of the Small just two weeks ago, but they’ve lost their last three games against Large opponents Medfield, Holliston, and Hopkinton, and they’ve come back to the pack. Dedham defeated Millis at home in early January by nine points, and Millis has hit its stride since then. Millis may have the best home court atmosphere in all of the TVL, so watch for the Mohawk crazies to come out in force to derail Dedham’s hopes for a title in their inaugural TVL season.
In the Large, the three-headed monsters (Hopkinton, Medfield, and Norton, all tied at 8-5) all can win the title with wins. All eyes are on Westwood’s gym Thursday night as the resurgent Hillers from Hopkinton visit in hopes of securing a share of the title. Hopkinton, which started the season 3-6, has now won eight of its last nine and appears poised to be that “team nobody wants to play in the tournament.” While Hopkinton beat Westwood by eight back in mid-December, Westwood has undertaken its own youth movement and would like nothing better than to burst Hopkinton’s bubble. Hopkinton’s success has been driven by big contributions from all 14 on the roster, including sophomores, juniors, and seniors, and their rallying for the title would be viewed by many as a year earlier than expected.
Friday night in Medfield, the co-leading Warriors will host the Norton Lancers. Norton started out the year on a tear, gave up the League lead in January to Medfield, who appeared poised to run away with the title before back-to-back losses over the past week to Hopkinton and Medway. Now, the winner of this match-up, which Medfield won by 11 five weeks ago, will win the title outright if Hopkinton loses; otherwise they’ll share the title with the Hillers.
Hope for Some Help
When Bellingham lost guard Brent Crayton in early January, they sat alone atop the Small. But since the League All-Star went down, so has the Blackhawks place in the standings. If Bellingham’s new favorite team–the squad from neighboring Millis–can defeat Dedham, a Blackhawk win at Medway would give them a share of the league title. Interestingly, in this same game, Medway is playing for its playoff life, as they must defeat either Bellingham on Friday night or a strong Wellesley squad next Wednesday to qualify for the playoffs.
Not Fighting for the Title, But Playing a Huge Game Nonetheless
Early season Small contender Dover-Sherborn faces one final hurdle in their sprint for the playoff finish line. Needing to win four of their final five games to reach the 10-win threshold, D-S’s fate seemed all but sealed. But huge Raider wins over Holliston, Hopkinton, and Northridge have them only a win Friday at home versus Ashland away from qualifying for the tournament.
Not to be lost in this exciting race to the finish line is that this is the initial year of not just the introduction of Dedham to the league, but also of the Small and Large division format. It seems this may be just the start of annual tales of incredible journeys for many different teams.