Watertown High School’s boys basketball team got a dose of revenge against North Reading Friday night, with a rim-rocking dunk to put an exclamation point on the 64-39 North Section quarterfinal win.
Last year, the Raiders traveled to North Reading and were eliminated from the tournament by the Hornets. In 2017, Watertown (19-2) earned the top seed and got them in their own gym in front of a raucous crowd.
“We went undefeated here this year, I believe we were 12-0 here,” said Watertown Coach Steve Harrington. “Playing at home is huge. We played over there last year and we struggled. Coming back and playing in our own gym was a big key.”
Both Harrington and Athletic Director Michael Lahiff said they had not seen an atmosphere in the WHS Gym like Friday night for several years.
No. 8 seed North Reading (14-8) played hard from the start and put the Raiders in an early hole after hitting a couple of three-pointers. Watertown regained its composure and the lead, ending the first quarter ahead 21-10.
The Raiders struggled to increase the lead in the second quarter after junior center John Korte had to sit late in the first quarter after picking up his second foul. North Reading closed the lead to 23-16, but Korte came back in and hit a three pointer. The half ended with Watertown up 30-18.
“We struggled when he was out. When he got back in the game he really helped us get back on track,” Harrington said.
In the third quarter, Watertown steadily built its lead and with 2:46 left the sophomore Vondre Chase stole the ball and passed it up to Korte, who threw down a dunk that sent the student section into a frenzy.
“There has not been a dunk like that here in my career,” Harrington said. “It was a big-time, major dunk.”
Watertown took a 20 point lead in the fourth quarter and with five minutes left the Raiders took the foot off the gas. Harrington took out the starters with two minutes left and the Raiders claimed the 27-point win.
“I thought that was the best game we played all year,” Harrington said. “Obviously Korte was huge for us and (junior Julio) Fulcar running the team for us had a great game.”
Korte finished with 29 points, Fulcar added 25, and Chase contributed both offensively and with strong defense. Harrington said the whole starting five played a role in the victory.
“(Senior) Jayden Hairston … what he did for us – the rebounds, smart play – along with (senior) Isaac Huff. Those guys go unnoticed,” Harrington said.
Watertown advances to the Div. 2 North Section semifinal this week against the winner of Sunday’s game between Lynnfield and Whittier. The day, time and location have not been decided.