Rob Merryman was in his customary mid-court seat at the Tsongas Center when the third quarter started in the Division 3 state championship game.
The St. Mary’s boys basketball team trailed Watertown by four points, but in an explosive exhibition of team basketball, Mr. Merryman’s son, Omri Merryman, and his teammates, put together one of the most impressive quarters in post-season history.
Omri, a 6-foot-4-inch junior forward, was the chief catalyst with 15 points, including an and-one to start the run, two three-pointers, two mid-range jumps shots, and a layup – all in a span of six-and-half-minutes.
As a team, St. Mary’s scored 27 points while limiting Watertown to only five on its way to turning a four-point deficit into 54-36 advantage.
Coach David Brown’s contingent kept its foot on the accelerator in the fourth quarter while roaring to a convincing 71-40 victory over Watertown, a perennial Middlesex League contender.
Omri knew he hadn’t played up to his potential in the first half, but he was ready when the bell rang for Quarter 3.
“I had to play better in the second half,” said Omri. “Coach Brown inspired us. The third quarter was the best quarter I ever played. We pressured them full court and we started hitting shots. I think we showed we were the better team.”
As for winning 28 games and taking home a state championship, Omri said, “I’m ecstatic about the season. It’s an amazing feeling. I’m glad I was able to contribute in my role – scoring the basketball when I could, try to rebound and stay on the court, and help my team win.”
Omri, who averaged 13 points and 7 renounds per game this season, said optimism abounded during tryouts and pre-season practices.
“David Brown Jr. and Ali [Barry] were coming off last year’s strong season and it was great to see Ali get his 1,000th point, we had Derick [Coulanges], one of our best defenders, I love playing basketball with [6-foot, 4-inch forward] Nick Sacco – I could tell that we had a chance to win it all.
“And we all love Coach Brown and want to play hard for him. He can be tough on us at times, but I wouldn’t want anyone else coaching me,” said Omri.
Omri also thanked his team of trainers for helping his improvement as a basketball player. That valuable contingent includes Kenny Jackson, Marcos Echevarria Sr., Tony Gallo, and Todd Burton.
Rob Merryman and his wife, Christy, are understandably very proud of their son, Omri, and his tide-turning effort versus the Watertown Raiders.
“I knew he could do it,” said Rob Merryman, a former Lynn Tech basketball player who coached Omri when he was a student at Sacred Heart School. “I was just very proud that he had his moment to help the team. Watching him smile and watching him get engaged – that’s what players work hard for, and Omri has worked really hard. As a freshman, it was a reality for him that he had to put the work in if he wanted to get to the next level. He committed to working out every day – shooting the basketball, running, lifting weights, working with a trainer. He started falling in love with the game and he wanted to make himself a better player.”
Rob Merryman had special praise for his son’s high school coach, David Brown Sr.
“David Brown has coached my son since third grade,” said Rob. “I have nothing but respect for David Brown. He’s done a lot for kids and a lot for the community. He’s never given up on my kid and always included Omri, whether it was basketball camps, going to watch David’s nephews play in college – he always included Omri to be a part of something beneficial to his life. David’s a great guy.”
Omri Merryman is grateful that his family has been along for the ride. He loves the fact that his father always sits at midcourt for games, a nod to superstition.
Omri’s brother, Rowan Merryman, is a seventh grader and member of the St. Mary’s freshman team and the varsity team’s videographer.
“I’m so happy that Rowan will be receiving a ring, too,” said Omri.