It was bright and early last Sunday morning, as John Maida, his 7th grade boys basketball team, their parents, siblings and friends, began filing in to the gym at Dedham High School for the second of back to back home games.
After many weeks of practice and five consecutive victories under their belts, the boys were scheduled to play a worthy group of opponents from Belmont.
As the minutes wore on, we witnessed the lowest scoring first quarter of the season.
The normally loud, supportive crowd sat silenced, as the squad from Belmont took a 13-10 lead in the 2nd quarter. With some adjustments to his lineup, the Dedham Metrowest boys inched ahead 17-15 at the half.
Without the benefit of a locker room, John Maida called his team to the far corner of the DHS gym. Everyone involved with the team knows, that Coach Maida has set a high standard for this group, but he has done so, based on his knowledge of their ability.
Understandably, most of Coach Maida's attention was directed at the team's missed opportunities. We've all heard coaches say “our shots just weren't falling”, but that is never an acceptable excuse for John Maida.
As the second half got underway, Maida's “pep talk” seemed to work. The boys from Dedham took a 34-20 lead in the 4th quarter.
In the 3rd quarter alone, Dedham had gone on a 24-10 scoring drive, with the help of 8 steals and some fast breakaways.
In spite of Belmont's tough defense, not to mention a number of shots that did not go in, Maida's five starters accounted for 38 of the team's 40 points. Rebounding, on both offense and defense, has always been the key to winning games. Dedham's Metrowest boys totaled 22 boards on Sunday, giving them that extra shot at the basket, along with not allowing Belmont another chance to score.
As the final seconds ticked off the clock, Dedham finished the game with a 40-30 victory, keeping them “undefeated” for the first half of the season.
“Especially at games of this level,” Maida said. “Victories come from team work. On any given Sunday, the play of one or two of these boys may stand out, but it takes the continued effort and hard work from all of the boys, all of the time, to be successful…”