PEPPERELL — While the other Pepperell Summer Basketball League semi-final game was a fast-paced affair, the match-up between Tom’s Home Renovation and Janet Cramb Real Estate was physical and intense. Points were hard to come by, and both defenses played with zest, and for the most part the men in stripes let the players decide the outcome. The game hung in the balance until the middle of the second half when Tom’s Home Renovation scored 11 consecutive points to break open a one point game, en route to a hard-fought 54-44 win, and a berth in the finals against Matley’s Pool & Spa.
Balance was the key for Tom’s Home Renovation as five players scored at least five points in the low-scoring game. Paul Collette led the way with 13 points, joined in double figures by Curt Stillman with 10 points, seven rebounds and three steals. Ever-dependable Joe Howell finished with nine points and seven rebounds, followed by Larry Colburn with eight points, James Maloughney with seven points, and Nick Colello with five points.
Janet Cramb Real Estate hung tough behind the inside-outside combination of Justin Maly and Matt Leone. Maly finished with 18 points and seven rebounds, and converted the only six free throws his team made in the contest. Leone drained five three-pointers in finishing with 17 points and four rebounds.
The tone was set early with neither team budging an inch defensively. The game was close over the opening minutes, Janet Cramb Real Estate moving in front 7-6 when Bret Chisholm (five points, three rebounds) buried a 15-footer.
Tom’s quickly bounced back with a conventional three-point play by Howell, followed by a three-pointer from behind the arc from Collette to open up some breathing room at 12-7.
Janet Cramb Real Estate tightened up defensively, doing an outstanding job of defending the perimeter and surged, scoring 10 of the next 14 points to move in front 17-16, forcing Tom’s Home Renovation to call a timeout with 4:17 remaining in the first half. Kyle Fossey started the run by draining a 15-footer, before a lay-up by Maly, and a pair of treys by Leone provided the one point lead.
Janet Cramb Real Estate did a solid job off the boards against the size of Tom’s Home Renovation, owning a 15-13 rebounding edge in the first half and a 26-21 bulge in the game.
Tom’s Home Renovation regained the lead at 18-17 when Stillman converted after hauling down an offensive rebound, but the lead changed hands when Maly came through with six consecutive points, hitting a pair of free throws, a fast break lay-up after a pass from Nate Patterson, and a tip-in to put Janet Cramb on top 23-18.
Tom’s Home Renovation scored the final five points of the half to draw even, tying the game at 23-23 on a free throw by Stillman.
Things started out well for Janet Cramb Real Estate in the second half when Leone drained a long three-pointer and Maly followed with a pair of free throws to make it 28-23, but once again Tom’s Home Renovation bounced back. Collette hit a pretty hook shot and followed with a fast break lay-up after a pass from Howell, before Howell hit a lay-up off a clever pass from Stillman to put Tom’s on top 29-28.
Maly continued to play well and finished off a lay-up after taking a feed from Fossey, but Colburn singed the net with a three-pointer to put Tom’s Home Renovation on top for good at 32-30.
Howell doubled the lead by connecting on a hook shot, before Leone sliced the lead to one with another three-pointer to make it 34-33 with eight minutes remaining in the game.
That set the stage for Tom’s decisive 11-0 run. They tightened up at the defensive end, hit the boards hard and got three-pointers from Colello and Colburn, two free throws by Stillman, and a short jumper from Jesse Letarte to take command at 45-33 with less than five minutes left.
Janet Cramb Real Estate never stopped scrapping, but nearing the end of its second game of the night, it failed to have the legs required to mount a comeback. On three occasions the lead was cut to eight points, the final time at 52-44 on a lay-up by Maly, but time ran out and Tom’s Home Renovation punched its ticket to the finals.
Patterson turned in a hustling effort for Janet Cramb Real Estate, finishing with four steals and four rebounds while Fossey played his usual solid defensive game, making a pair of steals and grabbing four rebounds.