Tops Greater Lowell 59-52
By John Anderson
This game was the most exciting game I have seen all season, but it wasn’t pretty. In the end Auburn prevailed, but it wasn’t without some very tense moments in this highly physical game that was extremely well refereed. Coach Andy Niedzwiecki summed it up, “We don’t make it pretty, but make it work.”
When four players repeatedly drive into the paint, fouls will occur and they certainly did on Thursday night. DJ Scavone and Mike Thomas lead the pack with 7 each in free throws while Ryan Kozlowski and Mike Jankowski had 2 each. The Rockets picked up 18 points at the line compared to 8 for the Gryphons who were in the double bonus with minutes left in the fourth.
DJ Scavone was fouled away from his first basket and only hit one free throw, something unusual for this fine player. Greater Lowell Tech claimed a lead in the first quarter, and a basket by Adam Gustafson narrowed the gap to 1 point at the end, 11-10.
With 3:19 left in the second, Auburn took a 16-15 lead which was quickly negated by a GLT hoop. At 2:50, Conor Scully dropped a 3, and the Rockets claimed a 19-17 lead that was tied buy never relinquished. At the half, Auburn was up 22-19.
Less than 2 minutes into the third quarter, Scully shot his second three and Scavone followed with a basket to put the Rockets up 31-22. The Gryphons, however, had other things in mind. GLT scored two from outside and one from inside to make it a 31-30 game. The third would end with Auburn up 37-34. Plenty of clock time left.
Teams traded baskets early in the fourth, and GLT was in the bonus with 5:11 left. This late in the game it was somewhat surprising that GLT’s Gbah Dualu still managed to effortlessly steal the ball and head down court. He certainly led the Gryphons defensively, but he came up short offensively at critical moments.
With 2:51 left in the game, and with Greater Lowell certainly not out of it, Dualu made a steal and drove to the net. His uncontested layup missed the hoop, and Auburn recovered, scored, and was ahead 51-46.
GLT was in the double bonus late in the game, and the Rockets capitalized. Jankowski, Thomas, and Scavone all garnered points to extend the team’s lead. Thomas shot the free throw with 9.9 seconds left.
Scavone lead with 25 points; Thomas had 13; Kozlowski dropped 9; and Scully had 6. Jankowski scored 4 and Gustafson had 2.
As for the win, Coach Niedzweicki said, “This is a resilient group, and we made championship plays. We tell the players stay with it, stay with it, stay with it.”
DJ Scavone added, “This wasn’t our best game. We had some playoff jitters and were a little shaky. But, it was a good win. Bartlett prepped us for this.”
Thomas said, “This team has so much heart. Big shots, stops and rebounds.”
The Rockets will face Tyngsboro at 2:30pm Saturday at WPI.