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Crusaders stay alive by winning a classic

GROTON — Every once in awhile the very best of games happen, when everyone in attendance thinks to themselves that ‘it is a shame that one of these teams has to lose.’

That happened on Tuesday night when the Bromfield boys basketball team visited a Groton Dunstable team that was fighting for its post-season life, and the game turned into an instant classic. In a game when both teams epitomized no-quit attitudes, Groton Dunstable stayed alive with a pulsating 65-62 double overtime win.

Neither team would knuckle under to the other, and both staged mini-comebacks throughout. The game was intense from the first whistle to the last, and played remarkably well considering the defensive effort that was put forth. Over 40 grueling minutes of basketball, the teams combined to commit just 30 turnovers.

”Bromfield is a very good and a very smart team,” said Groton Dunstable coach Keith Woods. “But we are starting to play the way we are capable of and we got a lot of great efforts tonight. Jason Broadstone was big off the boards, and Jake Manning had a big game for us. Jim Moniz played very well and made a great athletic play to get the game into the second overtime.”

”This was a great high school basketball game and I am very proud of my kids,” said Bromfield coach Scott Hoffman. “We were down but we kept coming back at them. Groton Dunstable is a very good team and plays a strong schedule. We played hard and even though we lost this will make us stronger.”

The first half was close throughout the first 11 minutes as neither team could build more than a three-point lead. The game was tied at 17-17 and up to that point there had been five lead changes and five ties.

Groton Dunstable fired the first salvo of the game, scoring eight consecutive points to take a 25-17 lead. Moniz hit a ten-footer and followed by converting after grabbing an offensive rebound. After Manning buried a 15-footer, Adam Dombrowski’s lay-up gave the Crusaders an eight point lead with two minutes left in the half.

But Bromfield hung tough as Rob Southworth drained a three-pointer, and Ian Rothkopf finished off a fast break with a lay-up to draw the Trojans to within 27-24 at intermission.

While neither team shot the ball well over the first 16 minutes, the Crusaders shot themselves in the foot from the free throw line, hitting just two of 13 tries. Groton Dunstable was outstanding off the glass, holding a 22-13 rebounding edge in the half, including ten at the offensive end.

Three times in the first four minutes of the second half, the Crusaders upped the lead to five points, the final time at 33-28 on Dombrowski’s lay-up after a pretty pass from Kevin Greene.

The Trojans bounced back with a 10-2 run to move in front 38-35 with nine minutes left, keyed by a pair of baskets on strong inside moves by Ben Brown. Josh Lyvers, Reed Harasimowicz and Toby Frost each added two points in the run.

The Crusaders answered back with six consecutive points to gain a three-point lead as Greene converted a steal into a lay-up, Steve Carroll hit a pair of free throws, and Dombrowski sank two freebies.

Bromfield turned things right around with seven unanswered points. Southworth hit a 17-footer and then converted after hauling down an offensive rebound, before Lyvers’ conventional three-point play put the Trojans on top 45-41 with 3:52 left.

Both teams dug in defensively the rest of regulation and points were at a premium. Dombrowski drilled a three-pointer for the final points, making it 46-46 with 32 seconds left, and the teams moved into the first overtime.

A pair of Dombrowski baskets gave the Crusaders three-point leads in first overtime, but Lyvers came up big for the Trojans with a strong drive, and another conventional three-point play to put Bromfield on top 54-52.

With the clock winding down, the Crusaders put the ball in the hands of Dombrowski, but his three-point shot was deflected. Moniz caught the ball in mid-air with his body contorted and let a short shot quickly fly which banked in as the buzzer sounded, sending the game to second overtime.

Moniz’s hoop inspired the Crusaders, who took control of the game with a lightning-quick 7-0 burst to start the second overtime. Manning bulls-eyed a three-pointer, and hit a short jumper, before Dombrowski’s lay-up after a steal made it 61-54.

Rothkopf sliced the lead to five with a drive, but Carroll’s follow-up basket iced the game for the Crusaders.

”Steve Carroll came up with some big plays for us and Wayne Blais played outstanding defense,” said Woods. “This is a big win and we are still alive for a tournament berth.”

Dombrowski led the Crusaders with 27 points and six steals. Manning contributed in all departments, finishing with 13 points, five rebounds and three steals. Carroll added seven points and eight rebounds while Moniz had six points, four rebounds and the biggest single shot of the season. Broadstone scored six points and keyed the Crusaders’ 42-38 edge off the boards by hauling down 19 rebounds.

Lyvers paced Bromfield with 18 points and nine rebounds, joined in double figures by Southworth (14 points, 13 rebounds and four steals) and Harasimowicz, who had 11 points, four rebounds and an outstanding defensive effort. Brown finished with eight points and six rebounds, while Rothkopf added seven points and five rebounds.

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