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FITCHBURG — After a strong run through the regular season that resulted in a 9-6 record, the Groton-Dunstable boys’ basketball team grabbed the seventh seed in the Monty Tech Summer Basketball League.

Their reward was a quarterfinal match-up with second-seeded Mahar, which posted a 13-2 record of its own. The Crusaders dug themselves an early hole, falling behind by as much as 17 before getting within three late, but they couldn’t make it all the way back, getting eliminated in a 46-39 defeat.

“We just couldn’t knock down shots early and it is tough to come all the way back when you find yourself behind big early,” said Groton-Dunstable coach Pat Romich. “I thought we settled down a bit in the second half and started making things happen offensively, but we just couldn’t get over the hump. The effort was there; we just lacked in execution early on and it cost us.”

Over the game’s first four minutes, the Senators dialed in from long distance to grab an early lead. Ken Woodard got things rolling with a long three-pointer and then set up Brian Whitman for a trey before Jose Silva connected for a lay-up to give Mahar a quick 8-0 advantage.

Matt Conlin dragged the Crusaders back into the game with a mix of outside and inside play. The senior-to-be put Groton-Dunstable on the board with a three-pointer, before converting an acrobatic driving lay-up and knocking down an 18-foot jumper to draw his team within three at 10-7.

Over the final 10 minutes of the half, the Senators took advantage of their opportunities, reeling off 12 of the final 15 points to grab a double-digit lead. Whitman converted consecutive three-point plays while Dan White and Woodard hit for three points each as Mahar took advantage of some cold shooting by the Crusaders to take a 22-10 advantage into the half.

At the start of the second half, the teams traded baskets as the lead stayed between 11 and 15. With the score 30-17, the Senators scored seven of the next 10 points to take their largest lead of the night. White drilled a trey, Woodard hit a pull-up eight-foot jumper and Silva converted a Whitman pass into a lay-up to make it 37-20.

It looked as if the blowout was on, but Groton-Dunstable came to life with a 16-2 run to climb back into the game. Corey Romich got things rolling with a long three off a Conlin feed, part of the eight points he scored during the run, including another long trey made it a five-point game. Patrick Stevens converted a pair of free throws following a steal that drew the Crusaders within three at 39-36 with less than two minutes to play.

The game would get no closer as Mahar iced the game from the line. Woodard hit four free throws to make it a seven-point edge, but Conlin banked in a three to make it 43-39 to keep hope alive. But Whitman knocked down a pair of freebies and White added one of his own to account for the final and put the Senators into the semi-finals.

Conlin led the way for Groton-Dunstable with 13 points and four rebounds. Romich finished with 11 points and three assists. Charlie Burke added six points and three boards while Phil Dubay chipped in four points and five rebounds.

Whitman paced Mahar with 18 points (including a perfect 6 for 6 from the line) and four steals. Woodard finished with 12 points and three assists while Silva and White added seven points each.