Feb 012014

Every game has to have a winner and a loser, even the most exciting, hotly contested ones. Unfortunately for the Groton-Dunstable Crusaders, they suffered their second overtime loss in six days, falling 62-56 to the Westborough Rangers at G-DRHS Friday night.

It didn’t appear as if the game was going to be as close as it was early on, as the Crusaders opened the game on a 12-0 run and led 17-4 after the first quarter Corey Romich paced G-D with eight points and three rebounds in the opening half. He would finish with 23 points, six rebounds, two steals, and two assists, including four first-half three-pointers.

Westborough fought their way back into the game with an 8-0 run to start the second quarter, cutting the deficit to five and forcing G-D head coach Greg Gillette to call a timeout. The stoppage re-energized the home team, as they ballooned the lead back to 13 with a 10-2 run of their own. Westborough would bring the counterpunch, however, ending the quarter on a 10-2 run and leaving the halftime score at 29-24 in favor of the Crusaders.

The Rangers would continue that momentum into the second half, going on a 15-0 tear that saw Colin Donovan (10 points, four rebounds, three steals) give them their first lead at 31-29 on a layup and which culminated with their largest lead of the night at 39-29. But the Crusaders dug deep like they have all year and, thanks to shooting a combined 4-of-5 from the free throw line, closed the gap to seven before the end of the third quarter to remain within striking distance.

“[Coming back from the deficit] is a hard thing to do against good teams,” G-D head coach Greg Gillette said. “These guys always show a tremendous amount of heart.”

The Crusaders inched closer and closer in the fourth quarter until Gavin Keough (Eight points, four rebounds, two steals) forced a turnover at half-court and drove the rest of the way for a layup that tied the game at 48 with 2:35 to go. The teams would trade baskets and free throws until it was tied at 51 with 0.8 seconds left, when Scott Csaplar (10 points, seven rebounds) took an inbound at half-court and heaved it toward the basket to pull off the thrilling victory — but it just missed, hitting the backboard just to the right of the rim, and the game was headed for overtime.

“We did a better job defensively [in the fourth quarter],” Gillette said. “During that quarter we defended better and we rebounded better.”

In the extra session, the Rangers proved why they are unbeaten in conference play (now 8-0 and 8-7 overall) as Donovan and Dan Orlando (18 points, nine rebounds) combined for all 11 of Westborough’s overtime points, including going a combined 6-for-6 at the foul line. The win also clinched the Mid-Wach B title for the Rangers.

“I don’t know if we played as hard as we needed to tonight,” Gillette added. “We’re playing decent basketball, we just need to play a bit better to get the job done.”

Other top performers on the night were G-D’s Drew Moore (10 points) and Westborough’s Connor
Fitzgerald (15 points, four assists, three rebounds, two steals).

The Crusaders are back in action Sunday when they host Marlborough at 2 p.m.