LUNENBURG — Groton-Dunstable was bitten on Monday night by their failure to adhere to rule number one in sports – when you get a team down, put them away. The Crusaders built a 15-point first half lead, and still led by 11 with six minutes left in the game, only to see Oakmont rally for a 64-57 win.
Groton-Dunstable thrived with a race-horse style in the first half, zipping up and down the court on their way to posting a 41-31 lead at intermission. Ryan Romich scored all 17 of his points before intermission while Cam Wilcox and Ryan Barrett chipped in with six points apiece over the first 16 minutes.
The Crusaders took advantage of their speed to score on the break, and did an outstanding job of finding the open man to create quality shots. They also created numerous free throw opportunities by attacking the Oakmont defense with strong drives to the basket.
But Oakmont was playing well at the offensive end also, doing a nice job of finding center Greg Beaudoin with passes in prime scoring position, and his play in the paint kept the Spartans in it.
The game was close for the first eight minutes. When Ethan Delauriers canned a free throw, Oakmont trailed just 20-19.
Groton-Dunstable then put together a scintillating 18-4 run to open up a 15-point lead at 38-23. Romich was the catalyst with a drive for a basket, a lay-up, and a pair of three-pointers as the Crusaders appeared to have landed an early knockout punch.
Oakmont made an important stand in the final two minutes of the half, scoring eight of the final 11 points to draw to within ten at intermission.
Oakmont maintained their momentum to start the second half, and came out playing with a renewed defensive intensity. Max Shenk, who scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half, finished off a drive to cap an 8-0 run which drew the Spartans to within 41-39.
After Barrett hit a lay-up to make it 47-41, the skies opened up and the game shifted to the Lunenburg High School gym.
The change in venue seemingly did little to turn the tide as Pat McKinney’s three-pointer, and a 15 footer by Wilcox put the Crusaders in control at 52-41 with ten minutes left in the game.
With the Spartans in danger of being blown out of the gym, Shenk took over. He hit back-to-back three-pointers, and followed with a 15-footer to make it 52-49.
The Crusaders rebuilt the lead to four at 56-52 with seven minutes left, but that would be their last hurrah as they would score just a single point the rest of the way. Poor foul shooting and an inability to finish off close-range shots hurt them down the stretch.
Oakmont took advantage and pulled away. Beaudoin put them on top for good at 58-56 with a drive, before adding a lay-up for a four point lead.
“We missed six big free throws and we just couldn’t finish near the end of the game,” said Groton-Dunstable coach Pat Romich. “Oakmont did a good job of getting the ball down low and using their size, and they broke us down defensively. We played good up-tempo basketball with good ball movement in the first half.”
Beaudoin finished with 22 points and five rebounds to lead Oakmont. Shenk added 16 points and three rebounds, while Jon Mallus chipped in with ten points, five rebounds and three steals.
Romich paced the Crusaders with 17 points, six rebounds and three steals. Wilcox added 11 points and six rebounds, Barrett eight points, McCaffrey seven points and two steals, and Pat McKinney six points.