Feb 152014

G-D ' s Drew Moore driving to the hoopSam Feeley

G-D’s Drew Moore driving to the hoop

ASHBURNHAM — The Groton-Dunstable Crusaders boys’ basketball team’s 6-4 record in the Midland League B Division, good for a second-place tie, has qualified the team for the MIAA Division 2 Central tournament. With a likely first-round date with 16-1 Concord-Carlisle looming, the Crusaders wanted to use Friday’s game against the Oakmont Spartans to build some momentum. And they did exactly that, turning an evenly-matched game through three quarters into a one-sided affair in the fourth, pulling away for a 56-49 victory at Oakmont Regional High School.

The start of the game was delayed due to an emergency repair to one of the rims at halftime of the junior varsity game, plus Oakmont’s senior night festivities. But that did not hinder both teams’ energy levels. They were so evenly matched in the first quarter that the score and rebounding totals were the same for both sides: 12 points, 10 rebounds apiece. The second quarter saw the Spartans gain a slight edge thanks to Michael McGuirl’s seven points (16 on the game, plus five rebounds and five steals) and Jonathan Streeks’ six (eight points, nine rebounds). The Spartans would go into halftime up 29-26.

The Crusaders looked to turn things around after halftime, opening the third quarter on a 9-0 run. The Spartans pushed back, closing the quarter on an 9-2 run to regain the lead, up 38-37 entering the final eight minutes.

Throughout the second half, the Crusaders’ strategy was simple: attack the basket and get the Spartans into foul trouble. They got into the bonus in short order, and shot 13-for-23 from the free throw line in the second half (19-for-31 overall), while allowing Oakmont only nine free throws all game, eight of which came in the third quarter. Corey Romich (17 points, five rebounds) did the most damage, getting to the line eight times to go 8-for-14. In the fourth quarter, the Crusaders put the hammer down. They opened with a 11-0 tear, out-rebounded the Spartans 12-6 (and 41-27 overall), and got two Spartans to foul out, including Nolan Durkee, who amassed all five of his fouls in the fourth quarter alone.

A familiar sight at Friday's Groton-Dunstable/Oakmont boy's basketball game was the Crusaders at the free throw line. Here, Matt Tornaritis looks to complete a three-point play.Sam Feeley

A familiar sight at Friday’s Groton-Dunstable/Oakmont boys’ basketball game was the Crusaders at the free throw line. Here, Matt Tornaritis looks to complete a three-point play.

“It was good,” G-D head coach Greg Gillette said. “[Oakmont]’s a team that’s had a good record and it felt good to come out here and get a win to end the season.”

Matt Tornaritis overcame four second quarter fouls to collect 16 points, five rebounds, and two assists. Gavin Keough also had a nice game with nine points and seven rebounds. Ronnie Peck was a monster on the glass; despite being only 5’11” he hauled in 12 rebounds to go along with three points.

“Ronnie’s stepped up when he’s been asked to,” Gillette added. “He’s a very hard worker, he’s got a lot of heart, and he boxes out very well.”

David Quaye was the only other Spartan to score in double figures, notching 12 points and seven rebounds off the bench.
The Crusaders finished the regular season at 8-11, a season that saw more than its share of ups and downs, injuries, and close finishes. But none of that means anything come tournament time, and they will get their chance to play Cinderella starting after February break.

“We gotta play hard, and then we gotta get hot,” Gillette said of his team’s chances to pull an upset. “I think if we play hard, we can play with anyone as long as we’re grinding defensively.