If you’ve been paying attention to the TVL Boys Basketball standings this year, you’ve likely needed as much Dramamine as a first time flyer on a transcontinental journey. Other than Dedham, which has sat near the top of the Small division all season, teams’ ascent to or descent from the mountaintop has been sudden. Five teams are still in the race for the two league crowns, and four of them face teams struggling for their playoff lives tonight in games that will likely end up with our labeling them as contenders or pretenders.
First up in Dedham, the 10-3 Marauders will face the 6-9 Ashland Clockers. Dedham has been at or near the top of the Small all season, and a win tonight will put the Clockers on the precipice of making plans to do something other than basketball over February vacation and give Dedham a clear path to a league crown in their inaugural campaign in the TVL.
That ever-present figure in Dedham’s rearview mirror is the Bellingham Blackhawks. Though Bellingham has faded a bit since losing top-scorer Brent Crayton to a lower body injury, a win tonight over 4-10 Millis would keep their sights clearly on the top spot. Although Bellingham split their season series with Dedham, the B’Hawks have 2 more league losses right now than their opponents from inside Rte. 128. Millis seems to have overcome its early season struggles, but even with a loss tonight the Mohawks will secure a tourney berth via the MIAA Sullivan rule.
In Medfield, the Large leading 8-4 Warriors host the struggling 4-9 Holliston Panthers. Medfield has won four straight after a loss at Hopkinton on January 5, and they lead the large by the smallest of margins. Holliston looked like one of the league’s top teams after winning their first two games behind an all-senior starting five, but they’ve cooled off recently and lost a couple of heartbreakers.
Hot on Medfield’s heels is the surging Hiller hoops squad out of Hopkinton. Winners of 5 straight after an overtime loss to Bellingham, Hopkinton started its round-robin with top Large teams Tuesday night with a convincing win over Norton. To stay only half a game out of first place in the Large, Hopkinton must defeat ever-resilient foe Westwood at the Wolverines home gym. With Westwood sitting at 4-10, Hopkinton could conceivably play three straight games against teams needing to win to stay alive for state tournament consideration–after Westwood, the Hillers visit Ashland, then 6-8 Dover Sherborn. If Hopkinton can win tonight, season-ending games against Medfield and Dedham could ultimately determine the winners of both Large and Small.
8-5 Norton’s season has mirrored Bellingham’s with the Lancers starting out on a long winning streak, only to fall out of the lead after losing three of the past five games. The Lancers are off tonight, but league games at Medway and Bellingham next week should test their mettle. And in the night’s final league match-up, 6-8 D-S travels to 6-7 Medway, with the winner much better positioned to get the tourney call come three weeks’ time!