WORCESTER — Groton-Dunstable boys basketball coach Greg Gillette expected a rock fight — and that’s exactly what he got.
His team didn’t play Medway during the regular season, but Gillette knew the Mustangs were a squad built much like his — quick guards who pressure the ball end line to end line, and long and athletic forwards.
In this battle between mirror images, second-seeded Medway found a little more timely shot-making and made the No. 3 Crusaders expend a little more energy just to get into quality half-court sets. It all resulted in a 52-43 win for the Mustangs in a Division 2 Central boys basketball semifinal at Clark University’s Kneller Athletic Center.
Medway (19-4) moves on to Saturday’s Division 2 Central final at Worcester State University against Westboro.
“They played well. Hats off to them,” said Gillette, whose team finished the season at 17-5. “We knew it’d be very competitive.”
Medway made a point to be in the face of G-D star senior point guard Evan Cook all night, with guards Justin Pratt and Matthew Kaplan alternating the main duty of guarding him. Cook saw a significant dose of double-teams and was denied the ball. He finished with a hard-earned 12 points and four assists and had just two points in the first half.
In spite of that, Groton-Dunstable held a 28-21 lead in the third quarter. That was until Medway junior Kyle Regan took over with long-range dagger after long-range dagger.
Regan scored 16 of his game-high 20 in the second half. He swished a deep triple to make it 38-31 Medway lead with 6:35 remaining in the fourth quarter to cap a 17-3 run that completely shifted the contest.
“(Regan) got hot and that was big for them,” said Gillette. “They just made a couple more shots than us.”
Senior Connor Keegan (13 points, seven rebounds) made a step-back 3-pointer and Cook hit a pair of free throws to get G-D within two (40-38) with four minutes left. However, Mustangs’ junior guard Drew Plunkett (15 points, six rebounds) made six straight free throws put his team comfortably ahead 47-38 with 1:31 to go.
Senior guard Brian Scott had 13 points and six rebounds for the Crusaders, who jumped out to a 7-0 lead to start the game. Medway fired back and held a 12-11 advantage after the first quarter.
Groton-Dunstable turned up the defensive volume in the second quarter, holding the Mustangs to just four points. It was 21-16 G-D at the half.
A veteran team, Groton-Dunstable will graduate seven seniors. Gillette gave each and every one of them a hug as time expired.
“It’s hard. You can’t really prepare yourself for it,” said Gillette. “I care about those guys a lot. They’ve given everything the last four years. They’re great young men and they’re going to be very successful in life.”