By Ed Niser

WORCESTER — For the first-time since the 2012 season, Groton-Dunstable is heading back to the Clark Tournament inside Kneller Gymnasium. The Crusaders at time of publication come into the large school tournament at 9-8 overall and 7-3 in the Mid Wach B.

Groton-Dunstable head coach Greg Gillette highlighted qualifying for the Clark Tournament as one of the preseason goals for his team.

“The kids were very happy about it when they heard the news,” said Gillette. “I was not sure if we were going to be able to do it — we thought we had to get to 10 wins. If we didn’t beat Quabbin, then we probably would not be in.”

And, when the brackets were announced last Monday, Groton-Dunstable snuck in with the No. 6 seed and will face No. 3 Clinton out of the Mid Wach C Division. Tip-off is scheduled for 1:45 p.m., Monday.

Groton-Dunstable is paced by junior forward Gavin Keough, who is the third highest scorer in CMass. Division 2. Keough is averaging 19.4 points-per-game.

“It will be a tough opening round game,” Gillette said. “They (Clinton) play tough defense. We are going to have to play our best game in order to beat them.”

Gillette has been to the Clark Tournament both as a coach and as a player. Gillette was a member of the 1993 Groton-Dunstable Crusaders team that played in the tournament.

The Clark Tournament gives high school players a taste of what playing in a college venue is like.

“As a player, they make you feel like big-time down there,” Gillette said. “It is different there than what you get at a high school game. As a coach, it is fun to go there but I really wanted the players to experience it first-hand. It is something that you remember the rest of your life.”

In the small school division, Bromfield makes its first trip to the Clark Tourney since the 2007 Trojans under former head coach Tom Hill. Current head coach Ryan Kilian has brought the No. 7 Trojans (10-6) back to their winning ways heading into Sunday afternoon’s 2:45 tilt with No. 2 Oxford (13-2). The Trojans’ offense goes through the hands of senior 1,000-point scorer Jake Frackiewicz. The 1,000-point scorer is averaging 19.6 points-per-game — fourth best in division 3 Central Mass.

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