TVL Boys Basketball Preview: Visiting Team Advantage??
After only a small sampling of games in this year’s TVL boys basketball season, contrasting teams is the norm. There’s a good mix of teams that are experienced or young, big or small, and fast or skilled. These classic contrasts have resulted in some surprising outcomes and suggest that the race for supremacy in both the Small and Large divisions will be fierce through February. While all teams are only two or three games into 20+ game seasons, how festive all 11 TVL teams feel over Christmas vacation will largely be determined by results of tonight’s games.
While tonight’s key matchup, Norton at Dedham, will likely allow one of them to take the lead in their division, the other four matchups pair teams with dramatically contrasting styles. Norton is the league’s lone unbeaten, but a drive across Norfolk County to Dedham High School might be the Lancers toughest test of the young season. Dedham was stung last Tuesday by a resilient Bellingham squad, so the Marauders will try to use their size advantage to overpower the Lancers on the inside and shut down wing scorer Griffin McAlear, who torched Westwood for 36 points in the opener.
With Millis playing Bishop Stang out of league tonight, the other four league contests offer up dramatically opposing styles. In fact, in all four contests, a high scoring road team is facing a stingy home team. It’s also interesting to bear in mind that after the first 13 games of the league season, home teams sport a record of only 4-9.
Holliston, which is scoring over 66 points per game, travels to Bellingham, which is giving up only 55. Bellingham has tough wins over Dedham and Millis already in the books, while Holliston is coming off a big loss to Medfield last Friday night.
Tonight’s game in Medway pits the high scoring Hopkinton Hillers (64 ppg) against the tough Mustang defense (49 ppg). Over the past two years Hopkinton has lost three straight to Medway at an average of 23 points. This one will likely come down to how well the Hillers can defend the Mustangs in what is often a house of horrors to visiting teams. Both teams have displayed a great deal of toughness and resiliency in this young season, and a win will pull one of these perennial stalwarts back into the mix in their division.
Both Westwood and Dover-Sherborn suffered tough losses on Friday, so tonight’s winner will be back in the thick of the league race. Tonight’s matchup at DS also pairs a high flying offense against a Scrooge-like defense. Westwood scores 63 ppg, while DS gives up just 47 ppg. The Raiders will likely try to turn the game into a rough and tumble affair, while Westwood will try to rely on its skill players to make outside shots.
And the final game of the night, in Ashland, pairs the Clockers against Medfield. Ashland beat Medway and lost a heartbreaker on Friday to Dedham, while Medfield lost to Westwood but gave Holliston its first loss on Friday night. It’s not clear whether Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde will show up for these teams tonight, but the winner should feel very good about their chances for being in the thick of the league race for the long haul.
It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas in a very special season of TVL boys basketball, and right now all 11 teams are fighting to avoid getting lumps of coal in their team stockings!