Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Patriots dazzle in Duxbury, make dreams come true through all-star basketball game

By Trevor Hass, Sports Editor/Reporter
Twitter: @TrevorHass

Jacoby Brissett soared through the air, the top of his head reaching rim-level and his tongue wagging like a golden retriever’s as he swooped in for the landing.

When he threw down a thunderous dunk, fans inside the packed gym at Duxbury High rose to their feet and cheered. Their shouting quickly turned to laughter, as they realized Brissett – the supremely athletic Patriots’ third-string quarterback – had legitimately twisted the backboard off-kilter.

Suddenly, a ladder emerged, and several of the game’s tallest and bravest players collaborated to wiggle the backboard back into place. Brissett looked on in disbelief, hands on his head, almost as though he didn’t know his own strength.

The backboard brouhaha was one entertaining speck in an action-packed night filled with joy, unprecedented opportunity and actualized dreams. The New England Patriots All-Stars faced the Duxbury All-Stars in a basketball game Monday night and won 72-69. It was a night the fans present will always cherish, as Brissett, LeGarrette Blount, James White, Duron Harmon, Trey Flowers and Shaq Mason represented the Patriots, while dozens of locals suited up for Duxbury.

It was the first game of its kind in Duxbury, though the Patriots have done similar events in the area before. The proceeds will benefit the Duxbury High Boosters Club, and the Boosters hope to parlay this into an annual event. The turnout was tremendous, and the gym and hallways overflowed with fans.

“I feel like the whole town was here,” said Duxbury High sophomore Quinn Murphy, who had a chance to play on the Patriots’ team. “It was definitely something I won’t forget.”

The night began with some apprehension from the crowd, as 7 p.m. grew nearer but the Patriots were nowhere to be found. Around 6:50, they started trickling in, and before long Brissett, Flowers and Mason were getting loose and warming up with some jump shots.

White, Harmon and Blount followed, and suddenly there were six players on the floor. The game was labeled as an all-star game, and it definitely had an all-star game feel. There wasn’t much defense, but that was fine with everyone.

It wasn’t about playing a competitive basketball game. It was about uniting players and their fans, and basketball happened to be the medium. With that said, there were still some snippets of intensity and occasionally heated battles on the court.

Duxbury girls soccer head coach Joe Ferguson can tell his grandkids that he banked in a 3 moments after a professional athlete missed one. Director of Athletics Thom Holdgate can say he made multiple layups against a squad of Super Bowl champions. Duxbury junior basketball player Molly Norton picked ferocious pass rusher Trey Flowers’ pocket. Once Brissett kicked the ball, boys soccer coach Brian Johnson followed suit and attempted to dangle Brissett.

No ankles were broken, but no hearts were either. The Patriots occasionally toyed with young kids on the Duxbury side, but it was all in good fun and was tastefully executed.

“It was a little intimidating at first because they’re super big, but they’re really funny and nice so they made it easy to jump right in,” Norton said. “LeGarrette Blount kept chirping me for getting an air-ball. It happens.”

Brissett, who hoisted a steady stream of Steph Curry-range 3s, finished with a game-high 34 points. Duxbury got a balanced scoring effort, trimming the deficit to single-digits late after trailing 44-25 at halftime.

Considering they were up against professional athletes, the Duxbury All-Stars certainly held their own.

While a major portion of the night was dedicated to basketball, that was far from all that transpired throughout the evening. There was an autograph session at halftime, during which unprepared yet adventurous fans turned to unique methods to get their favorite players’ signatures.

One young fan asked Blount to sign his forehead. The gregarious Blount obliged, then cracked up as the first fan’s friend immediately joined the movement. Another fan had Flowers and Brissett sign his phone, and some had the players ink their arms.

In between the third and fourth quarters, fans got to catch passes from Patriots. The younger receivers jogged out a few feet, while some bolder football junkies ran deep routes and showed off their skills.

One woman reeled in a toss from Blount and immediately spiked the autographed ball in Rob Gronkowski fashion, but she had to tiptoe after it once it squirted away.

It was a night to remember for everyone present, and the Boosters club hopes it’s just the first of many. They want to bring this back to Duxbury next year and for many years to come.

If Monday’s turnout and positive reception were any indication, it’s undoubtedly worth the effort.