Sharon High has the highest-scoring duo in the Hockomock League, with cocaptains Jimmy Fritzson and Brian Mukasa teaming up for 39 points per game.
The pair of 5-foot-10 guards have learned to play well together, complementing each other’s games. But their bond did not come easily.
“As underclassmen . . . there weren’t enough basketballs for us,” acknowledged Mukasa, who is averaging 17 points per game.
“The competition got to the point where it wasn’t healthy — it hurt the team.”
After the Eagles failed to qualify for the state tournament two years ago, Mukasa and Fritzson changed their ways.
“Over a while it was like, ‘Alright man, this is getting ridiculous,’ ” Mukasa said. “It went without saying that this is what needs to be done.”
The two have learned to share the basketball, to get open without the ball, and to pass at the right time. There are still flare-ups from time to time when one or the other will complain, but Sharon coach Bruce Jackman says he’d rather have players who want the ball, and that “99 percent of the time, there are no issues.”
As Mukasa and Fritzson have learned to work together, the team has benefited.
The Eagles improved to 11-3, and 8-3 in the Hock’s Davenport Division, with a 58-46 win over Foxborough Tuesday night.
The Eagles have scored 60 points in all but two of their games and showed their true offensive potential in a 90-79 win over Oliver Ames, when Mukasa poured in 33 points and Fritzson tallied 24.
The duo is particularly hard to stop because of their strong surrounding cast. In the season-opener against Stoughton, the Black Knights keyed in on the seniors, allowing sophomore Jordan Mello-Klein to erupt for a team-high 20 points. Friday, Stoughton focused on Mello-Klein as well as Mukasa and Fritzson. That meant it was sophomore David Roelke’s turn to step up, as he buried seven threes en route to a team-high 23-point performance.
“We have more talent than people even really realize,” Mukasa said.
If the Eagles keep their egos in check, they are fine. And there are times that Sharon relies on its offensive firepower rather than putting out a consistent defensive effort.
Jackman feels his team is capable of playing good defense. Still, he admits the Eagles will simply try to outscore foes, particularly given their lack of proven depth inside.
They can lean on Mukasa, who scored his 1,000th career point earlier this season, achieving a milestone that had been a goal since watching his older brother, Ivan (Class of 2008), play in the same gym.
“When I was 9 or 10, I looked at the banner [listing 1,000-point scorers] and said, ‘I am going to score 1,000 points,’ ” he said. “As a 9- and 10-year-old, you don’t really know how many 1,000 is, and you just say, ‘I’m going to do it,’ but I just feel if you believe you are going to do anything, then nothing is unrealistic.”
The pull-up jumper Mukasa developed as a sophomore helped him reach that goal.
“I don’t know what clicked in my head but I noticed no one took midrange jumpers so I started doing it,” he said. “It’s really a lost art of the game.”
Now, Fritzson is picking up the lost shot from Mukasa, adding it to his 3-point range.
He was a force in last year’s tourney, including a 34-point night in a season-ending loss to Scituate in the Division 2 South semis.
That three-game stretch led Fritzson to seriously consider playing basketball in college for the first time. His work in the offseason is certainly paying off this year. His 22 points per game paces the Hock, ahead of Oliver Ames junior Ryan Carney and Canton senior Sam Larson , both at 19.5 ppg.
“I knew I was talented but I didn’t know how good of a scorer I could be,” Fritzson said.
Fritzson is now considering spending a post-graduate year in the hopes of earning a basketball scholarship. Even after their rocky beginning, Mukasa is considering joining him wherever he goes.
Walpole turning around
When Jim Gallivan was named the girls’ coach at Walpole High, he didn’t know what to expect. The position had opened up after longtime coach Stacy Bilodeau , a former standout for the Rebels, was not retained. She is now an assistant at Wheaton College, where she has been joined by freshman Bridget Nicholson , last year’s Bay State Herget MVP.
That left Gallivan with just two returning starters, junior guard Julie Moser and junior center Summer King . The Rebels lost five of their first seven games, but won four of their next six. At 6-7, they need to win four of their final seven games to be playoff-eligible.
“A couple of scouts who saw us at the beginning of the year and then saw us last week couldn’t believe we were the same team,” Gallivan said.
King has helped keep Walpole competitive. At 6-foot-1, she has dominated the glass, hauling in 20-plus rebounds multiple times.
“We had to redesign our stat sheet that keeps track of rebounding,” Gallivan said. “Rebounding is about effort and her effort is obviously there.”
Four of the Rebels’ five seniors have been hampered by injury, but several have been able to contribute without playing much in practice. Bri Doherty is the team’s third-leading scorer despite missing two games and Caroline Feeley , who was in just six games, played a major role in ending the team’s early-season slump in back-to-back wins against Milton and Dedham.
Clutch points by Myers
Trailing Scituate by five points with just over two minutes to go Monday, the Quincy boys called on Drew Myers and the junior guard delivered with a three-pointer to cut the deficit to two.
After a defensive stop on the other end, the ball found Myers again. With less than 30 seconds to go, he sank another 3-pointer to give Quincy a one-point lead. The Presidents (8-5 overall, 6-2 Patriot League) then stopped Scituate once more to hold on for a 53-52 victory. A critical win, according to coach David Parry .
“I told the kids before game,” Parry recalled, “if we lost that game it would have really taken us out of contention for the [Patriot] league title . . . if you lose three games in the league, it’s very, very hard to come back.”
The Presidents were coming off a 62-60 league loss to Silver Lake.
“We’ve been involved in a lot of close games,” Parry said. “It’s been a good character builder for the kids, getting them ready for tourney play.”Jacob Feldman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.