The ending was not what Alijiah Robinson and his teammates on the Holbrook High School boys’ basketball team had in mind.
After completing the season 16-2, including a 14-0 run through the Mayflower League, and earning the top seed in the Division 4 South sectional, the Bulldogs were ousted by Millis, 49-42, in the first round of the tournament on Wednesday.
“This season was great,’’ said Robinson, a 6-foot-6 sophomore, of his first year with the Bulldogs.
“We came out here and won a league title. That hasn’t been done in 20 years. It feels good to be here. We worked hard as a team. We came and played every game tough.’’
The loss “doesn’t take away from anything we achieved. It only makes us that much stronger, knowing we can do this after 20 years, win something big, put this school on the map,’’ he said.
After playing his freshman year at Brimmer and May in Chestnut Hill, Robinson left the school after his family moved to Holbrook.
Robinson said it was tough getting playing time at Brimmer and May. “There were a bunch of guys there, seniors, and a lot of major guys going to major schools. It was great working with them. They taught me some new tricks in the gym, and motivated me to get better.’’
Then he arrived in Holbrook and found comfort in the game he loved, playing ball with classmates after school, helping ease the transition.
Holbrook coach Brad Bayersdorfer remembers seeing Robinson in the gym last fall, but said he really didn’t have a true sense of his ability until the start of the preseason workouts.
“We did have a couple of guys returning, but we graduated our big guy [6-2 Didjoe Matumona] and graduated three of our five starters,’’ said Bayersdorfer. “We had a good surprise having Alijiah added to the team.’’
Robinson quickly established himself as a presence, averaging 16.5 points and 8.8 rebounds per game while shooting about 70 percent from the field.
“He’s probably one of the best players I’ve ever played with,’’ said senior guard Danté Bittle. “What can’t he do? He can play defense, he can shoot the ball, drive.’’
Robinson’s height became a huge advantage in the low post, and he is not afraid of stepping out and taking a three (he was 5 of 11 from beyond the arc this season).
His teammates made it a habit to throw alley-oops to Robinson, who has a knack for emphatic dunks. “I love throwing alley-oops to him,’’ said Bittle. “I had never done that in my life.’’
In the loss to Millis, Robinson scored 10 points in the first quarter but was stymied by an aggressive Mohawk defense for the rest of the game, finishing with just 12 points.
“After today I’m going to the gym and doing my pushups,’’ said Robinson. “No excuses. I have to get better. I feel like I let my team down today. I had some bad shots and I couldn’t create space for myself. They exposed me today, and it won’t happen again.’’
Bayersdorfer is excited at the prospect of coaching the promising forward another two seasons.
“I think that it took a little while for him to adjust, because most of the guys on the team have been playing together for three or four years,’’ said the coach. “It took adjusting in the beginning, but knowing we should have the same team for the next couple of years makes me feel pretty good.’’
Marshall hits 2,000
It started with suiting up in church leagues, and then AAU ball, weekend getaways to hotels across the Northeast, and practices at 9 at night.
His dedication to the game has produced a magnificent high school career. On Wednesday night, Avon High senior Saleek Marshall joined the 2,000-point club in a 69-63 win over South Shore Tech in the first round of the Division 4 tournament, becoming the 61st player in state history to reach the milestone. Marshall drained a 3-pointer on the first play of the second half to hit the mark.
“It’s kind of haunted me the whole season, I’ll admit,’’ said Marshall of the milestone. “ ‘What if I only get 1,900? What if I can’t finish it out? What if we don’t make the [Division 4 state final]?’ I had a couple games where I averaged 14 or 10, but toward the end of the season I averaging 30 maybe 35 points a game, and in the back of my mind I said I have to score the 2,000. This is what I live for.’’
A starter since 8th grade who is averaging 24.2 points per game this season, he entered the South Shore game 16 points shy of 2,000.
“He wanted to get the 2,000 points, but we didn’t talk about it a lot,’’ said first-year coach Jay Donovan. “I didn’t want that to get in his head. I knew if Saleek came out and just played his game, he would probably get the points. I didn’t want to add the pressure by talking about it a lot.’’
Marshall has received several academic scholarships from colleges, but said he has also received interest from Framingham State, La Salle, and Emmanuel College to play basketball.
But that’s hardly Marshall’s focus right now.
“Right now, it’s just winning, keep on playing, keep up the intensity, and keep playing through these finals,’’ said Marshall after the victory.
“It’s the only thing on my mind. I just passed the biggest milestone, and I can keep on playing.’’
Avon was scheduled to host its next game, against Cape Cod Tech, on Friday night.
The East Bridgewater girls earned their first state tournament berth in a decade in dramatic fashion - ripping off 19 straight points in the fourth quarter of their 46-39 win over Cohasset in the regular-season finale.
Then the Vikings upset third-seeded Randolph, 64-45, in the first round of the Division 3 South tournament on Tuesday.
“This is a culmination of all the hard work that the girls brought from the first day,’’ said first-year coach Chris Connolly. “The first day after tryouts, the girls put out goal cards for where they saw themselves and the team at the end of the season. All of the girls put down making the tourney as their No. 1 goal, over even individual goals.’’
Freshman Olivia Signori played huge for the Vikings (11-10) in the victory, with 25 points and collecting 25 rebounds.
“She’s special,’’ said Connolly. “She rebounds the ball well, and she’s been doing it all season.
This year’s team members accomplished a lot, the coach said.
“I think it’s something that’s going to be even more special to look back on in few years,’’ said Connolly of the victory over Cohasset. “They helped get East Bridgewater back into the tournament, and back into people’s minds as a basketball school.’’
Unfortunately, East Bridgewater was ousted in a 54-34 loss to Martha’s Vineyard on Thursday night. . .
Entering Carver’s Division 4 South game against Pope John Paul II, senior guard Myles Dias needed 32 points to eclipse the 1,000-point mark. He scored 14 in the first half, but picked up the pace in the second half, finishing with 33 in an 83-49 win. He reached the milestone with four minutes left on a layup.
Andrew MacDougall can be reached at email@example.com.