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Dombrowski earns milestone but Crusaders fall to Panthers

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‘This was a great night for Adam and he joined a pretty exclusive club.’ – Keith Woods, Groton Dunstable boys basketball coach

BOYS BASKETBALL

Marlboro 74

Groton Dunstable 70

GROTON — There was one number that was on most people’s minds on Tuesday night at Groton-Dunstable — 1,000. That was the mark Adam Dombrowski was trying to reach for career points, entering the game with 996 through 55 career games. The senior was looking to join elite company in Crusaders’ history that included recent stars Greg Twomey and Dylan Holmes and past heroes such as Mike Tripaldi and Ken Hoyt.

At the 9:16 mark of the first half, Dombrowski approached the free throw line in need of a single point and drained the front end of a two-shot foul to reach 1,000 points. For the night, Dombrowski finished with a game-high 33 points for Groton-Dunstable, but it wasn’t enough. Marlboro ruined the special night, taking home a 74-70 win and dropping the Crusaders to 6-7 on the season.

It was the Panthers ability to get second shots that was the difference in the game. On the night, Marlboro held a 44-17 advantage on the boards, including a staggering 16 offensive rebounds that led to 16 second chances points. The reason the Crusaders stayed in the game was the fact that they forced 21 turnovers and committed only nine.

Behind lay-ups from Dan Powell, Wayne Blais and Matt Carroll, Groton Dunstable opened an early 6-2 lead. After seeing the lead shrink to two at 11-9, the Crusaders answered with six of the next eight points to grab a six-point edge. Powell led the way with five points, including a three-pointer off a Jake Manning feed that made it 17-11.

Once again, the Panthers closed within two at 17-15 only to see Groton-Dunstable come up with another run. The Crusaders ripped off 10 of the next 14 points to take their largest lead of the night. Dombrowski picked up his milestone point during the run, as he scored six points as the lead grew to eight at 27-19.

When the second half began, Groton-Dunstable quickly drew within two, opening the half with 11 of the first 17 points. Dombrowski was the catalyst, scoring eight points on a pair of long jumpers and two lay-ups, with Manning assisting on three of the buckets as the Crusaders made it a 49-47 game.

The lead went back up to five at 54-49, but Groton-Dunstable eventually tied it with a 7-2 run. Dombrowski and Manning had buckets before Blais converted an acrobatic three-point play that tied the game at 56-56 with 6:47 left to play. It was the last time the game would be close.

Marlboro proceeded to blow the game open with 10 of the next 12 points to take a commanding lead. Joval was unstoppable in the post, scoring six points on a pair of short jumpers and a lay-up as the Panthers held an eight-point advantage at 66-58.

Twice over the remainder of the contest the Crusaders drew within four but could not get any closer. Marlboro connected on four of six free throw attempts in the final minute to keep enough of a cushion to hold on for the victory.

“I thought we were just a couple of possessions away from winning this game tonight,” said Woods. “We really got after it hard with the effort but came up a little short. Wayne was strong tonight for us and we got some good minutes from other people. We just need to come back strong Friday night against Gardner.”

Dombrowski added four rebounds to go with his 33 points. Blais finished with 17 points and four boards. Powell added 11 points while Manning chipped in 10 assists and six steals.

Joval led the way for the Panthers with 26 points and 11 rebounds. Jamel Nisbett added 23 points, 11 boards and two blocked shots. Nisbet finished with 11 points and seven rebounds while Rylan Mitter-Burke had nine boards and seven assists.