B4:Crusaders top Littleton, but fall in finals
The fourth-grade boys led the semifnal game with an impressive 33-11 victory over Littleton to avenge a loss earlier in the year. Eight players got into the scoring column with Nate Spinale and Taylor Wiercinski leading the way with six points each and Ajaje McCracken-Bradley chipped in with five. Andrew Stenstream, Nate Bushnell, and Will Vogel added four points each. Wes Garibotto and Ryan Bushnell paced the defensive efforts with three steals each as G-D controlled the pace of the game from beginning to end.
The finals proved to be an entirely different affair. When Oakmont and G-D hooked up six weeks ago, G-D won in a two-point battle. Early on, it was clear that this game would be no different. At the half, B4 held a 6-5 advantage and struggled to find their offensive stride en route to a 19-15 defeat in front of the home fans. Taylor Wiercinski scored 10 points, Finn Bernard chipped in with a huge three-pointer to start the second half and Wes Garibotto added two. Evan Laudenslager was a key offensive weapon assisting on every Wiercinski basket. G-D showed immense passion and drive but simply came up short in the end as Oakmont hit key free throws down the stretch.
G5: Lady Crusaders make early exit
The fifth-grade girls had trouble scoring in the first half against Wachusett and weren’t able to recover, ending their season with a 21-10 loss in the first round of the playoffs.
G5 had plenty of scoring opportunities, but were unable to convert (shooting only 17% from the floor). Cassidy Lacombe lead all scorers with six points, followed by Brooke Barry (three points) and Taylor Caldwell (one point).
G6: G-D falls to Acton-Boxboro in playoffs
The sixth-grade girls season ended with a intense battle versus rival Acton-Boxboro in the first round of the playoffs on Saturday. G-D’s defense was once again phenomenal, holding A-B to only six points in the first half (which A-B led 6-4). In the second half, A-B slowly opened up a lead to as many as eight as GD’s offense sputtered. With four minutes left, G-D put on three-quarter court pressure, forcing A-B out of their flow and began to take control of the game. Switching to full-court-man pressure with a minute to go they grabbed back four quick points to close the gap to two points.
Unfortunately, the clock expired just a little to early, ending G-D’s season with a two point loss, 18-16.
All Crusaders fought hard.
Kyleigh McDonald led the offense once again (six points). Olivia Shusta was unstoppable on the boards, especially at the end of the game. She finished with 10 rebounds and six steals. Ali Vogel and Sierra Wynn were the defense stars of the game, executing critical steals, especially in the later phases of the game. The Crusaders finish the season fifth in the league.
G7 Lady Crusaders cap perfect season with championship
The seventh-grade girls completed an undefeated run this past weekend as they defeated Acton-Boxboro (semifinals) and Wachusett (finals) to take the league crown, finishing the season with a 13-0 record. After defeating A-B 40-17 in the semis, G-D took on a tough and physical Wachusett team. The tone was set early by G-D however, as they jumped out to to an 11-0 lead.
They kept the pressure up with their tenacious defense and went into halftime leading 27-7.
The second half saw much of the same intensity as the G7’s refused to relinquish their lead, eventually winning 55-22. The champions are comprised of Rachel Erickson, Bronwyn Mulligan, Carolyn Mullins, Emma Wilson, Nicole Tammaro, Jillian Van Pelt, Cate Bolton, Lauren Hill, Olivia Ray and Abby Eisenklam.
B7 Crusaders top gritty Hudson side
In seventh-grade boys action, Tim Stark, Stephen Dzwonek and Charlie Willis combined for 39 points in a season ending win over a gritty Hudson team 48-39. Stark, who scored 17, took over the game in the absence of Joe O’Malley and Tyler Peck, both out with season ending injuries to lead the G-D squad in a thrilling back -and-forth contest. Willis scored 12 and Dzwonek had 10.
G-D and Hudson were tied as the second half began and the G-D press created numerous turnovers that resulted in two big three-pointers from Dzwonek to break the game open. Sam Eggimann, Elias Jiser and Colin teDuits played another solid game on the defensive boards. G-D went 11 for 12 at the charity stripe. Jack Foster contributed five points.
G8 Lady Crusaders net fifth travel championship
The eighth-grade girls faced Nashoba in the semifinal round of the playoffs. G-D came out very slow, but played very good defense to keep them up. Right before the half, Juliana Higgins hit a couple of key buckets. Lydia Pray followed with a three and another 14 footer to put G-D up at the half. G-D came out in the second half and picked the pace up led by Sarah Willcox, who ended up with 10 for the day. G8 beat Nashoba 43-25.
In the finals, G-D hosted the championship against archrival Wachusett. G-D came out in its 1-3-1 press and jumped on top. Wachusett came out in its 2-3 zone and only stayed in it for a very short time due to Rachel Romich hitting three three-pointers. She ended up with 19 points in the game.
At the half G-D held a commanding lead. Wachusett, in the second half, crept back into the game and got within striking distance. Julia Stathis and Elizabeth Zawada we’re put in the game to stop the surge of Wachusett. G-D ended up winning their fifth travel championship by a score of 41-34.
B8 Crusaders fall to Nashoba
The eighth-grade boys, division I entered the D1 playoffs as the number five seed with their sights on a playoff run, drawing number four Nashoba in the opening game.
The game was indicative of the closeness in the seeding.
G-D started out strong on the defensive end holding Nashoba to just five points in the first eight minutes of the game but missed an opportunity to create early separation, getting only 11 points in this time against a stingy zone defense. Nashoba finished the half strong and with a 21-20 lead. Their 6’4″ center scored 12 of their 21 points in the half.
The second half was as tight as the first. G-D finally took a lead, 46-44 with 1:40 remaining.
However, Nashoba then ran off six straight.
A late three-pointer by Evan Cook, who once again led the team with 17 points, tightened the game but time ran out on the Crusaders, succumbing 51-49.
While G-D was down two players due to injury Connor Keegan played an incredibly strong game as did Brian Scott. They combined for 15 points.
Even with the playoff loss, the Crusaders season continues due to a convincing win in the Hudson tournament against a talented Friendly House team, 68-47.
In this one, the Crusaders had five players with eight or more points, Jake Gavel (8), Sam Boudreau (9), Jeremy Keast (13), Will Manzi (14), and Evan Cook (16).
B8D2 Crusaders fall at top-seeded Quabbin
The eighth-grade, division II boys team capped off the season with what was undoubtedly its most impressive showing to date.
Entering post-season play seeded at the bottom of the bracket, G-D traveled to take on top-seeded Quabbin.
G-D only had a roster of seven players for the game, yet were able to keep relentless pressure on their opponent on both ends of the court from start to finish. While the final score was 37-23 in favor of Quabbin, G-D kept the spread within single digits for all but the final few minutes of the game. Peter White, Nick Perry and Nate Townsend each scored six points to lead the G-D offense. Defensively, Max Phanord, James Willson, and Luke Llodra provided a staunch defense from the top of the key which contributed to numerous Quabbin turnovers, while Jake Willard commanded respect under the boards with many clutch rebounds.
Considering that almost half of this team’s roster had never played together in a travel environment prior to this season, while many of their opponents have played together for years, adds to the impressiveness of their team performance.