WESTFORD — The young, upstart Nashoba Tech boys basketball team has enjoyed a sensational season, and they equitted themselves quite well in the District Division 3 quarterfinals on Friday night. But in the end the size and experience of Bromfield proved to be the difference as the Trojans posted a 61-49 win to advance to the semi-finals at W.P.I on Thursday night against Bartlett.
Bromfield improved to 15-7 with the victory, while Nashoba Tech, who started a junior, three sophomores and a freshman, finished with a sparkling 21-2 record.
Nashoba Tech came out using their quickness to advantage as they took the ball right at the Bromfield defense. The Trojans failed to utilize their superior size in the early going, taking a number of outside shots and failing to establish an edge off the boards.
The Vikings earned an early lead as Willie Luna and Xavier Canty sliced through the Bromfield defense to score on drives to the basket. At the defensive end, Nashoba Tech battled hard to keep the Trojans from exploiting their size advantage. The Vikings sent their crowd into a frenzy when Jon Alves scored on a drive to put them on top 15-7 with seven minutes left in the first half.
But the Trojans, who missed 14 of their first 16 shots from the field, upped their defensive intensity a notch and climbed back into the game by scoring off their defense. When Brian Morgan converted a steal into a lay-up to cap a 7-0 run, Bromfield trailed 15-14 with five minutes left.
After Bromfield made a defensive stop on Nashoba’s next possession, Reed Harasimowicz put the Trojans on top for good, taking a pass from Josh Lyvers, hitting a lay-up and adding a free throw for a three-point play to make it 17-15.
“Toward the middle of the first half we started penetrating and getting good shots,” said Bromfield coach Scott Hoffman. “We switched our defense to a 2-2-1 and we got some good things out of it.”
Bromfield extended the lead to 23-18 when Ian Rothkopf (27 points, eight rebounds, five steals) finished off a fast break with a lay-up.
Lyvers gave the Trojans their largest lead of the first half with a basket that made it 29-22, but Luna drew the Vikings to within 29-24 at intermission with a hoop in the final seconds.
Despite their lack of size, the Vikings battled to a 20-20 stalemate off the boards over the opening 16 minutes, led by Nick Limberopoulos with six rebounds, and Luna and Daryl Ricard with five each. Bromfield earned the lead by forcing 12 turnovers, which fueled their transition game.
Limberopoulos’ lay-up to open the second half cut the lead to three, but Rothkopf inserted a dagger into the heart of the Vikings with back-to-back three-pointers from the top of the key to make it 35-26 and force a Nashoba Tech timeout.
The stoppage in play didn’t stem the tide as Harasimowicz hit a lay-up, off a nice pass from Rothkopf, before Ben Brown’s turnaround jumper put the Trojans in control at 39-26.
“Ian had an enormous game for us and his two three-pointers early in the second half were huge,” said Hoffman. “Josh Lyvers gave us a lift off the bench in the first half and Jon Fricchione, Toby Frost and Tim Smetana kept the momentum going when they came into the game.”
Bromfield appeared on the verge of putting the game away, but Nashoba Tech kept battling. Josh Coole hit a pair of timely three-pointers, the second drawing the Vikings to within 46-38.
But once again Rothkopf had the answer for the Trojans. The senior guard canned a pair of free throws, and then added a conventional three-point play after making a steal, providing breathing room at 51-38 with five minutes left in the game. The closest Nashoba Tech would get the rest of the way was ten.
Bromfield asserted themselves off the boards over the final 16 minutes with a 20-9 rebounding edge, keyed by Harasimowicz, Brown and Rothkopf.
“We beat the number one seed in their own gym,” said Hoffman. “A lot of kids stepped up for us tonight. It took us awhile to get going, but once we started getting the ball inside we were fine. I also want to thank our fans for the support they gave us tonight.”
Harasimowicz finished with 11 points and nine rebounds, while Lyvers (seven rebounds) and Brown (six rebounds) each added six points.
“Hugo Al-Homsi didn’t score a lot tonight but he did a solid job handling the ball against a lot of quickness and showed good poise,” said Hoffman.
Alves led Nashoba Tech with 11 points. Luna and Limberopoulos each added nine points and six rebounds, while Xavier Canty chipped in with seven points. Coole finished with six points and three rebounds.