CHELMSFORD — The Groton-Dunstable Crusaders boys’ and girls’ basketball teams lost both halves of a doubleheader to the Chelmsford Lions Sunday afternoon at Chelmsford High School. But although the end results were the same, the games couldn’t have played out more differently.
The Lady Crusaders found themselves on the wrong end of a 64-30 skunking in the opener. The Lions dominated from the opening tip, outscoring G-D 22-9 in the first quarter on the back of three three-pointers by Sara DaSilva (nine points, five steals, three rebounds) and capping it with a layup at the buzzer from Claire Markey (13 points, four rebounds, four assists, three steals).
The second quarter wasn’t any better. The Lady Crusaders committed six turnovers, the last of which led to yet another buzzer beater for the Lions. Annie Donahue (eight points, four rebounds, three assists, two blocks) stole an inbound pass at midcourt, then found Amanda March for another layup as time expired to put the nail in G-D’s coffin early.
“They’re a very good team, they’re 10-1 for a reason,” G-D head coach Mark Hennelly said of the Lions. “I think I misread them when I scouted them … I probably should have brought us out in a different defense. That being said, it’s the three, four, five shots at the basket we can’t allow, and they just killed us on the boards.”
The third quarter was even worse for the Lady Crusaders. Lindsay Werner led the G-D offense with 15 points, three rebounds, and two steals, tried to shoot her team back into the game, but made just one shot — a three-pointer — for G-D’s only points of the quarter. Sensing that the game was well in hand, both coaches emptied their benches starting at about the 4:30 mark of the third quarter.
“When we get behind, we freeze up,” Hennelly said. “Lindsay tried to bring us back not out of selfishness but out of pure desire to win.”
The Lady Crusaders (6-6) failed to score double-digit points in all four quarters and were out-rebounded 37-24.
In the second game, the boys erased a seven-point halftime deficit to force bonus basketball, but ultimately fell in double overtime, 57-56.
The Crusaders dug themselves in a hole early, allowing the Lions to open the game on a 7-0 run in the first four minutes. They would end up trailing 11-6 after the first quarter and 22-15 at halftime.
G-D’s offense began to jell in the second half despite both teams shooting a combined 0-5 to open the third quarter. The Crusaders managed to tie the game at 30 before baskets by Chelmsford’s Mike Tice and Jack Campsmith ballooned the lead back up to five heading into the fourth quarter. Then the drama began.
G-D took its first lead with 4:30 to go in regulation as Matt Tornaritis nailed a three-pointer to put the Crusaders up 37-36. The teams would go back and forth until Chelmsford’s Brad Hausler hit two free throws with 11.7 left to put the Lions up 46-43. Needing a three-pointer to stay alive, the G-D offense got the ball into the hands of Tornaritis, who up-faked on Campsmith while shooting a three to draw a foul and go to the line to potentially tie the game. Despite the Chelmsford fans’ best attempts to distract him, Tornaritis (13 points, five rebounds, four assists) was automatic, swishing all three shots to knot it at 46 and extend the game.
Chelmsford won the opening tip and immediately got it to Campsmith, who drilled a three to put the hosts back on top. After a Scott Csaplar bucket and a couple of empty possessions, Corey Romich (19 points, seven rebounds, five assists) saved a lost possession where the Crusaders moved the ball around a bit too much by draining an awkward-looking three-pointer as the shot clock expired to put the Crusaders back on top 51-49.
“Matt and Corey are our primary ballhandlers, so they get the touches at the end to create for themselves. They both made unbelievable clutch plays,” coach Greg Gillette said.
Campsmith (21 points, 11 rebounds, one assist) struck again soon after, hitting a short-range jumper to tie it up at 51 and send the game to double overtime.
In the second extra session, with G-D leading 56-55, Tornaritis pulled up for a jumper from just inside the three-point circle, but missed it off the front iron. Brad Hausler (nine points, 10 rebounds, two steals) hauled in the miss, then got an outlet pass to Campsmith, who head-faked his defender and dropped it off for the trailing Voshon Holmes for the game-winning basket with 18 seconds left.
Despite the loss, which put the Crusaders at 5-7, Gillette was very pleased with his team’s effort.
“They played very hard,” he said. “We preach to them that if they work hard, they can play with anyone.”
Both teams will play Hudson Tuesday at 7 p.m., with the girls at home and the boys on the road.