Matty Backlin and Coleman Picard came up big in the first game of the Clark Tournament. Photos by John R. Anderson

Boys Varsity Basketball has had a tough year with a slow start and, beyond that, a 50/50 season. In the second week of January, Coach Andy Niedzwiecki told me he hoped those early losses didn’t come back to bite the team, but they nearly did. Then, on January 27th, the team’s leading scorer, Tyler Judice, was benched for the remaining games with a foot injury.

Sometimes, when there is a ray of sunshine for a team, the clouds come in.

Last week, I told senior Matty Backlin that it had “almost been a good season.” Boy was I wrong. I didn’t go to Monday night’s Clark Tournament quarterfinal since #8 Auburn was facing #1 Quabbin. Every statistic out there told me this would be a one and done for the Rockets. Boy was I wrong.

I didn’t count on the players left standing and that Rocket spirit that has driven many Auburn High teams to success. I also didn’t consider a coaching staff that has fought adversity for several years with a team that hasn’t made the MIAA Central D3 Tournament since 2014.

On Monday, Auburn defeated Quabbin, 57-52, and this win made their season 10-10 in regular play and opened the door for the D3 Tournament. Every regular varsity player contributed points to the victory, but the standouts were Backlin and sophomore Coleman Picard who each put up 13. Max Joncas and Craigon Confer each had 8 while Justin Skaparas and Jason Henry each scored 6. Cam Bolduc shot 3.

Every game moving forward will get tougher, and it begins on Thursday at 7:45pm when the Rockets face Shepherd Hill in the Clark semi-final. Fan support is crucial in these types of games, so attend if you can. I’ll be there.

I don’t want to be wrong again.