Boys Basketball Falls in Semi-Finals…March 9, 2016
By Michael James LeClair
The fourth-seeded Nashoba Regional boys’ basketball team came up short of its goal of a Central Mass. Division 2 championship despite a pair of gutsy performances in the first two rounds of the sectional tournament.
The Chieftains season came to a close on Sunday afternoon at the hands of top-seeded Concord-Carlisle. The Patriots advanced to the sectional finals after defeating Nashoba 52-44 inside WPI’s Harrington Auditorium.
Nashoba finishes the season with a 18-6 overall record while Concord-Carlisle (20-2) moves on to play third-seeded and defending Central Mass. Division 2 champion Marlborough at 11 am on Saturday at Fitchburg State University.
This is the second consecutive year the Chieftains’ season has been cut short at the hands of Concord-Carlisle as the Patriots defeated Nashoba in last year’s Central Mass. Division 2 Semifinals.
After trailing by just a single point, 22-21 at halftime, Nashoba let things get away as Concord-Carlisle put together a 19-2 run that put the Patriots up by 18 points. The Chieftains couldn’t recover down the stretch.
Nashoba were led by Justin Peirce’s 15 points and 11 points from Andrew Snoddy. Nathan Mansour added six points and Wyatt Boelens chipped in with four points.
Eric Sellew paced the winners with a game-high 19 points.
Despite coming out on the short end Sunday, the Chieftains gave themselves an opportunity to make it to the semifinals thanks to a heart-pounding finishing on Thursday night against Medway.
Nashoba pulled out a very emotional 54-52 victory over the Mustangs despite losing two of its key players to injury late in the first quarter.
After building a double-digit halftime lead, the Chieftains watched Medway chip away and tie the ballgame late in the fourth quarter.
With the contest deadlocked at 52 and under 15 seconds left Nashoba turned to Andrew Snoddy (14 points) and the junior delivered as he nailed a running layup with nine seconds left to give the hosts a 54-52 lead.
“You see the ball is coming to you and the play is drawn up for you and I just knew I couldn’t let my team down,” said Snoddy. “We had two boys go to the hospital and I couldn’t let them down. I took it to the hoop strong. I got a nice back-screen and got in for the layup.”
Medway (15-6) inbounded the ball and pushed it across half court before calling a timeout with 4.6 seconds left. The Mustangs came out of the timeout and failed to get a shot off as Nashoba secured the win.
With just 1.3 seconds left in the first quarter Nashoba’s Justin Peirce and Tony Kennon collided on the defensive end of the floor. The game was halted for close to 20 minutes while the two were attended to. Both were taken away by ambulance.
“The first thing tonight was making sure that our boys that went down were OK,” said Nashoba head coach Danny Ortiz following Thursday’s contest. “We got the news that they’re doing OK and Justin actually ended up coming back to the game.”
With three minutes left in the fourth quarter and Nashoba holding a 46-44 lead Peirce, sporting a bandage above his left eye, re-emerged from the gym doorway and sprinted back towards the Nashoba bench. Peirce’s appearance sent the Nashoba crowd into a frenzy and provided the Chieftain squad a motivational lift.
“That’s the biggest thing. I’m extremely proud of the boys. It’s a tough thing to see your teammates go down and be able to keep it together and just fight,” said Ortiz. “I’m just proud. It was a great game. (Medway) fought hard, but I’m proud of the boys and how they finished.”
Nashoba enjoyed a 35-20 halftime lead but Medway dominated the third quarter, outscoring the Chieftains 16-4 in the frame to pull within 39-36 after three quarters.
Trevor Manyak paced the winners with 16 points while Connor Ojerholm helped his team by finishing with eight points. Peirce scored five first quarter points before his injury.