Boys Basketball Takes Clark Tourny…Feb. 24, 2016
By Michael James LeClair
For the second year in a row the Nashoba Regional boys’ basketball team squashed the doubters when it comes to the Clark University High School Basketball Tournament.
Thanks to a pair of wins over higher seeds, the fifth-seeded Chieftains punched their ticket to the Large School Division Finals in 2016 Clark Tournament.
Waiting for the Chieftains in Saturday night’s finals was another upset-minded squad in sixth-seeded Groton-Dunstable Regional.
Victories over fourth-seeded Grafton on Monday in the quarterfinals and top-seeded Bartlett in semifinals on Friday set the table for a showdown with the Crusaders, who defeated third-seeded Clinton and second-seeded Shepherd Hill Regional, respectively.
On Saturday night Clark University’s Kneller Athletic Center was the venue for a battle that didn’t disappoint.
Nashoba captured its second-ever Clark Tournament title and first since 1977 with a 55-43 victory over the Crusaders on Saturday.
Nashoba improves to 15-5 with the win and wraps up the regular season with a pair of home games before the sectional tournament pairings are announced on Feb. 26. The Chieftains host North Middlesex Regional on Monday and Maynard on Wednesday.
Nashoba who advanced to the championship round before falling to Shepherd Hill in last year’s final but had enough in the tank this time around to finish the job.
Against the Crusaders, Nashoba used a strong second quarter to create some separation on the scoreboard. With Groton-Dunstable holding a 16-15 advantage after the first eight minutes Nashoba came alive in the second quarter, outscoring its opponent 16-5 to take a 31-21 lead into the locker room. Nashoba’s Justin Peirce scored nine of his team-high 12 points in the first half of action.
The two teams played as close to even as possible in the second half as Nashoba held a slim 24-22 upper hand in the second half refusing to let the Crusaders cut into the deficit.
Peirce and Andrew Snoddy led the Chieftains offense against the Crusaders, each scoring 12 points while Connor Ojerholm chipped in with 10 points and Trevor Manyak scored eight points.
On Friday night against the top-seeded Indians in the semifinals Manyak stole an inbounds pass and scored the game-winning basket with 28 seconds left in the fourth quarter to give Nashoba a thrilling 53-51 upset win. The Chieftains closed the game scoring the final six points after Bartlett went up 51-47 with under two minutes left.
The thrilling conclusion was part of a 19-11 fourth quarter in favor of Nashoba. The Chieftains entered the final eight minutes on the short end of a 40-34 score.
Snoddy paced the winners with 15 points with Manyak tossing in nine points, Ojerholm scoring eight points and Kennon with seven points for the winners.
In Monday night’s win, the Chieftains came out of the gate red hot, scoring 11 of the game’s first 13 points and opened a double-digit 24-10 lead after the first eight minutes.
In the second quarter Nashoba maintained its cushion as it held a 39-28 lead.
Looking to put the game away in the third quarter the Chieftains scored 12 straight points to kick off the second half. Nashoba’s Kennon, Snoddy and Peirce highlighted a strong third quarter that saw the away team add to its lead.
Nashoba added 20 more in the frame to take a commanding 59-38 lead after three quarters of play.
Snoddy poured in a game-high 23 points on 9-for-12 shooting. Peirce chipped in with 15 points and a game-high six assists, while Kennon registered ten points and four boards.