By Jess Thomas
The Hale Middle School boys basketball team took care of Luther Burbank by a score of 50-23 in a ballgame that was all but over by halftime on Thursday, Feb. 5 in Stow.
The Lancers were playing with only six eligible players, so the Hawks made sure to rest its starters while getting all 15 of its players in the scorebook.
“We tried to make sure in this game that everybody scored at least two points,” second-year head coach Sam Peirce said.
Hale now stands at 5-6 this season with two games remaining. A third is possible if a snowed out game against Hudson gets rescheduled.
Despite scoring 50 points as a team, no one player had more than eight points. Forward Ryan Donovan was the high scorer, as he buried two three pointers.
Donovan, along with starters Josh Stams, Matty Johnson, Sam Bolinsky and Andrew Ahlquist, dominated the beginning of the second half, as they gave Hale a commanding 33-9 lead midway through the third quarter. A 12-0 run to start the fourth put the game away for good in favor of Hale.
“Ryan’s [Donovan] one of my forwards and his shot has really improved,” Peirce said. “He plays a lot of minutes for me. He’s kind of the heart and soul, the epitome of hard work, and he’s an all-around good kid.”
Peirce noted that Johnson and Stams are the scrappers that sniff out loose balls consistently. He said, of Stams, “Last year he played as a seventh grader and the reason he played a lot was mainly because of his rebounding. He gets a lot of foul shots because when Josh gets the ball, he usually wants to take it to the hoop.”
Johnson is the highest scorer for the Hawks this season, according to Peirce.
“He’ll get in and battle with bigger guys than him and scrap,” Peirce said. “If the ball doesn’t come to Andrew (Ahlquist), I want it to go to Matty
because if he doesn’t shoot, he can create some offense for Sam (Bolinsky) and Josh.”
Peirce noted that Bolinsky had never played basketball before this year, but was put on the roster due to his size. He is known for his football skills, as he was part of the American Youth Football Championship this year.
“I knew that we were playing Southboro, Shrewsbury and Westboro that are big schools and without someone in there who can bang, we were going to have problems,” Peirce said. “He has a pretty good shot and he works hard on it.”
Ahlquist is the only seventh grader in the starting lineup. Peirce said, “He’s my point guard and pretty much the quarterback of our team. He can be a leader in rec games and he’s also stepped up in our games. He’s a very good shooter and his basketball IQ is very high.”
Because of a height disadvantage, the Hawks had trouble against Shrewsbury and Westboro, losing against each team twice. But it was a different story against Southboro.
“One of the highlights of our season was beating Southboro,” Peirce said. “We beat them 45-44 (at home) and it was an exciting game where my starters played most of the game. We took great pride in beating them.”
Hale plays each opponent twice and Peirce’s goal this season was to get better results the second time the Hawks played each team and so far the team has succeeded.
They scored 28 more points against Westboro, lost by 13 less against Shrewsbury and beat Southboro after losing by 20 the first time.
The game that the whole team had on its mind, however, was on Tuesday against archrival Sawyer. The team from Bolton beat Hale by 14 at home the first time, so Peirce was looking for his squad to exact some revenge in a game that boasts serious bragging rights. The team earned those rights with a 59-47 win.
“Ever since we lost, it’s kind of all we’ve talked about,” Peirce said. “We played one of our worst games, we were very cold shooting, and since then we have been working on shooting more than normal.”
Peirce, ironically enough, is from Bolton, but agreed to become the coach of Hale last year which pitted him against his son, Justin, who is now a freshman for Nashoba’s varsity squad. Peirce can now watch all of his son’s games, after having to miss a number of them due to coaching last year.
He has enjoyed his time as Hale’s coach, however, citing how refreshing it is to have such a nice group of boys.
“These kids couldn’t get in trouble if they tried to,” Peirce boldly stated.