By John Anderson
All sports have their highs and lows. Whether it’s an Olympic hockey team or a high school field hockey team, there will be celebrations and there will be tears. This week, it was boys basketball’s turn.
The Rockets’ dismal start to the Clark Tournament on Monday will long be remembered as will the spectacular comeback in the second half that left the Indians stunned and on the wrong end of the scoreboard. Many were hoping the same “second half team” showed up on Thursday to face Northbridge, but they missed the team bus.
The Rams put up the first points, a basket and then a free throw. DJ Scavone answered with a 3-pointer and Auburn was in this game. It wouldn’t last. Northbridge pressured every aspect of the Rocket offense and outshot them 8-3. The first quarter ended 11-6.
Northbridge guard Jurrell Cromwell had a hand in front of many Auburn shots, and most were clean. He forced numerous turnovers but only collected 3 fouls during the game. With about 5 seconds left in the second quarter and the Rockets still trailing by 5, a steal at the Ram’s end was tossed to Scavone who got the hoop and pulled his team within three, 24-21.
Mike Jankowski made a nice lay up in the third to tie the game 26-26, but the Rams pulled ahead 39-30. With seconds left, Scavone made another period ending shot to give Auburn another 2, 39-32.
At 3:33, it was a 6-point game, but the Rams extended their lead to 12 at 3:06. Little was going right for the Rockets. Multiple fouls in the last 3 minutes got Auburn in foul trouble. While Northbridge only shot 33% from the line, their lead was too much for Auburn to top.
The game ended with a 7-point spread, 52-45. Unfortunately on this night, Auburn was on the wrong end of the scoreboard in spite of all their hard work. DJ Scavone led his team with 26 points and 10 rebounds. Mike Thomas was the only other significant scorer with 11 points and 7 rebounds.
Coach Andy Niedzwiecki has said in the past this team needs the rest of the players (aside from Scavone and Thomas) to take and make shots. That did not happen on Thursday. Facts are facts: Monday 61 points/Thursday 45 points; Monday 54 rebounds/Thursday 31 rebounds; 2nd chance baskets on Monday 15/Thursday 0.
DJ Scavone scored 3 and Mike Thomas scored 1 3-pointer during the game. Scavone admitted that 3-pointers were not a big part of Auburn’s game and said, “Our team has to get to the hoop.”
The Rockets were 40% on three point attempts while the Rams were 35%. Maybe Auburn needs to consider shots from outside more often. Aren’t 3’s the new 2’s anyway?
Coach Niedzwiecki talked about the loss, “Their role guys outplayed our role guys. Credit goes to Northbridge. They’re a well coached team that pressured our guards all night.”
All is not lost for the boys since Division 3 playoffs begin on Monday. Ninth seeded Auburn plays on Tuesday, 7:00PM at Whitinsville Christian (8th). With the right series of wins, Auburn could face Bartlett or Northbridge again.
The girls (#5) begin Division 2 playoffs on Wednesday when they face Notre Dame (#4) in Worcester, 7:00PM.