CAMBRIDGE — For the second time in a week, the Cambridge Rindge & Latin boys’ basketball team seemed in danger of having the program’s lengthy winning streak come to an end.
On Tuesday night, visiting Brookline rallied from a 12-point deficit to tie the score late in the third quarter, forcing four consecutive turnovers to enthuse their boisterous fan section and snare the momentum.
But once again, the two-time defending Division 1 champions found their gumption. Senior captain Aidan Keefer led a late charge to help preserve a 59-53 win at War Memorial Gymnasium , the program’s 51st consecutive victory.
“We needed a tough, physical, exciting win like this,” Keefer said. “We need to know how to play under pressure and in big-time atmospheres like this. This felt like a playoff game tonight.”
After falling behind early, 15th-ranked Brookline (4-2) rallied thanks to outstanding efforts from sophomore guards Ben Murray (8 points) and Matt Price (10 points).
Tied at 48 midway through the fourth quarter, the Falcons (6-0) turned to their senior leaders in Keefe (team-high 14 points) and co-captain Jonathan Cenescar, who converted a traditional 3-point play to make it 55-48 with 2 minutes remaining.
Khai Smith, Cambridge’s 6-foot-6-inch sophomore center, struggled with foul trouble in the first half, but came alive late with 8 points and 11 rebounds in the second half to help spark the Falcons down the stretch.
Still, Cambridge coach Lance Dottin expressed concern about his offense considering the Falcons have yet to crack 70 points in a game this season.
“I don’t think we did a good job tonight of handling [Brookline’s] aggressive [defense] and pressure,” Dottin said. “We talk a lot about offensive efficiency and we have not been able to do that this year. Credit Brookline for speeding us up, but we need to calm down and get [Khai Smith] touches.”
Brookline’s continuous fullcourt pressure kept things interesting in the final minutes, but the Warriors could not connect from 3-point range to fully erase the deficit.Nate Weitzer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.