Auburn and Millbury varsity boys basketball are both struggling this season. For the Rockets, a visit to AHS by the Woolies was a chance to put another ‘W’ on the board and keep their slim playoff hopes alive.

For the first quarter, it looked like that would happen easily.  Auburn jumped out to a 12-4 lead, hitting everything from the floor and controlling the boards on both ends. Then the tide turned.

Tyler Judice launches the three point shot that would send the game to OT (Photo Jeff LaBonte)

The Rockets got sloppy and cold, committing a number of turnovers and seemingly unable to convert a field goal. It looked for a time that the offense got a bit too comfortable, looked to force some passes and trying to get too fancy with the ball. On the other end, the Woolies were heating up.

Off numerous Rocket turnovers, Millbury’s John Reuman and Elijah Friedman almost could not miss. After a 16-4 run, Millbury was up 20-18 at halftime. Fortunately for Auburn, a last second three launched by Friedman, that could have been a back-breaker, rattled in and out.

Auburn opened the second half scoring with a three by junior Tyler Judice, a ball that clanged on the rim, circled a time or two, and finally fell through.  The score put Auburn up 21-20, but unfortunately, that shot would pretty well summarize Auburn’s offense in the second half.

While Millbury led by as many as 5 at one point in the third, the entire half was a see saw affair. Auburn could never quite take the lead, and the Woolies could never quite pull away. Auburn continued to rain threes on the Woolies’ defense, but could not get many of them to fall.

Until, that is, Tyler Judice nailed the biggest of his five threes to tie the game at 40 as time expired in regulation.

Going into overtime, Auburn was in control, and jumped out to an early lead that they would never give up. Judice was finding his range and nailed three more from downtown. He had 15 points on the night, all from long range.

Seniors Luke Matthews (11 points) and James Krikorian (10 points) also hit double digit scoring, and both drained key free throws for the Rockets down the stretch.

The defense also picked it up, showing a scrappiness that was missing in the first three quarters of the match.

Auburn walked away with the 55-49 win, although the game was closer than the score indicates. The gutsy performance by the Rockets down the stretch should be something they can build on as they heads into the final stretch of the season.

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In the early game, Auburn Junior Varsity Boys controlled from end to end, as they rolled over the Millbury JVs 55-28. AMD will have a slideshow from both games later today.