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GROTON — Plenty of athleticism and defensive effort were on display when the Groton-Dunstable boys basketball team hosted Bromfield on Monday night, but in the end the game was decided by the most basic element of the game. Groton-Dunstable had a little more firepower, which allowed them to slip past the cold-shooting Trojans 52-43.

The Crusaders improved to 3-1 with the victory while the Trojans dropped to 1-1.

“We put forth another strong defensive effort, and if we play defense the way we have the past three games we will turn the corner,” said Groton-Dunstable coach Keith Woods. “We made Bromfield work for everything tonight and our defense helps to take some pressure off our offense. This was a hard fought and good basketball game, and we hit some outside shots that made the difference.”

“Groton-Dunstable is a good team,” said Bromfield coach Charlie Noonan. “They are athletic and as good as I expected. We got off to a slow start defensively in the first period, allowing 18 points but I thought we played better defense after that. We shot 22 percent in the game, and you just can’t beat a good team doing that.”

The Crusaders started quickly, building leads of 6-0 and 12-4 and appeared ready to take control of the game. Ryan Romich scored eight of the Crusaders’ first 12 points, including a pair of three-pointers.

Bromfield put together an 11-6 run over the final four minutes of the first quarter to draw within 18-15 after one quarter. Josh Lyvers (15 points, 10 rebounds) keyed the spurt with six points, including a pair of perimeter jumpers.

The Trojans clawed back to tie the game at 23-23 when Ben Brown converted after hauling down an offensive rebound, but the Crusaders finished off the half with a 9-2 run, keyed by sophomores Romich and point guard Derek McCaffrey.

Romich connected on four consecutive free throws to make it 27-23. After Brown sliced the lead in half with a 10-footer, McCaffrey took over, burying a 15-footer before beating the buzzer with a half-court bomb to send Groton-Dunstable to intermission with a 32-25 lead.

Despite strong defensive pressure, both offenses did a solid job of protecting the ball and turnovers were few and far between. Each team finished with 11 turnovers in the contest.

Both teams struggled offensive to start the third quarter, the only points over the first three minutes being Cam Willcox’s two free throws that extended the lead to nine. Romich (18 points, nine rebounds) scored three baskets in the quarter, which ended with Groton-Dunstable on top 41-31.

Brian Morgan drained a three-pointer to draw the Trojans to within 45-37, but Bromfield suffered a loss when Lyvers fouled out with 5:27 left in the game.

Romich sandwiched a pair of 15-footers around a free throw by Bromfield’s Connor Kempton to make it 49-38 and put the game out of reach.

Bromfield never quit, slicing the lead to six on a Sam Peisch trey, but a lay-up by Ricky Akins and a free throw by McCaffrey sealed the deal.

McCaffrey scored 16 points and ran the offense superbly for the Crusaders. The emerging Pat McKinney added nine points and three rebounds while Willcox chipped in with five points and four rebound, and Akins added four points and six rebounds.

Brown scored eight points and grabbed four rebounds for Bromfield. Hugo Al-Homsi added seven points, Kempton five points and eight rebounds, while Morgan (five rebounds) and Peisch scored three points each.