By John Anderson
When I last saw the boys JV basketball team, they beat Millbury, 42-30. It was a totally different look on Friday when Tantasqua came to town. At the end of the first quarter, Auburn was down by one point, 17-16. By the half, the Warriors had a 35-22 lead.
That lead climbed to 51-36 when the third ended, and both teams were in the bonus with 4 minutes left. Both teams put up 13 points in the fourth, and Tantasqua won 64-49.
In the varsity match, Auburn simply couldn’t find the net in the first half, and it ended with a Warrior lead, 32-8. Auburn outscored Tantasqua, 27-20, in the second half but only 10 points were from baskets. 17 points came from free throws since the Warriors were not shy about fouling.
The game ended with another Rockets loss, 52-35. Conor Scully led with 11 points, and Matty Backlin followed with 10. There were no 3-pointers for Auburn while Tantasqua had 6.
Tantasqua is a big school that serves 5 towns: Brimfield, Brookfield, Holland, Sturbridge, and Wales with a combined population of over 20,000 citizens. Auburn has about 16,000 residents. According to the MIAA, Tantasqua serves 1,180 students compared to Auburn’s 724.
This explains some of the perceived imbalance when sports teams from these two schools meet. In the big picture, the perception of imbalance is not always true. Last Thursday, in fact, the Auburn girls topped them, 47-31, on the Warriors’ home basketball court. In December, girls indoor track also won. The boys teams seem to historically have a bit more difficulty.
Athletic Director Brian Davis reminded me that Tantasqua may be in our league, SWCL, but they are not in our division. Currently, Auburn will not face them in a playoff situation since they are a division higher. For the time being, it is great to use their indoor track for competitions, and it’s good to have another tough competitor in multiple sports.
Auburn teams can only become better because of Tantasqua. Any win against the Warriors, is a great win.