Text and photos by Steev Riccardo
BARRE - The Oxford Pirates saw their season come to an end on Friday night in a 66-32 Division II quarter final loss to a very good and experienced Quabbin Panthers team.
Coach Sean Halloran instructs his team
Following a thrilling opening round overtime win over the Auburn Rockets, the Pirates drew the top team in their division and were given the unenviable task of playing the Panthers on their home floor, which proved to be no easy feat.
The Pirates used their swarming defense and a huge three-pointer by junior Tyler Barrie at the buzzer to keep it close after one quarter, trailing 12-11.
The second quarter proved to be nothing less than a nightmare for the Pirates. They could not solve the Panthers’ defense and were forced into making a plethora of turnovers. That was only part of the problem as they were crushed on the boards and outscored 16-4, putting them in a rough spot at the half, down 28-15 to a very skilled team.
Senior Chris Burley came in off the bench in the third quarter and used some muscle down low to give the Pirates a spark, but the Panthers were just too tough. Between the great leadership and ball handling skills of point guard Chris Horton and the powerhouse low post play by Colby Milton, the Panthers opened a 17-point, 41-24 lead.
It was all Quabbin in the fourth quarter and the Pirates could not make a run and had to settle for a second round elimination.
“We played very well in the first quarter but I thought the second quarter turned the whole game around. We didn’t box out and we had too many silly turnovers,” said Pirates head coach Sean Halloran, who was visibly disappointed with the loss.
“To Quabbin’s credit, they played tremendous defense, probably the best defense we have seen all year,” said Halloran. “That being said, you are going to turn the ball over but there is no excuse for not boxing out. We were absolutely killed on the boards and with the size we had there was no excuse for that. We just watched the ball, it was very frustrating, we gave them second and third opportunities.”
The strong rebounding edge the Panthers had was unquestionably the difference in the game. “Overall I thought our defense was good but when you give them second and third opportunities, that is never a good thing.”
The Pirates also had problems generating scoring and you can pin some of that on the loss of point guard floor leader and co-captain Donny Freeland, who was injured late in the season and lost for the playoffs.
Despite the loss, Halloran is a realist and knows he has a young team and the experience gained here was very valuable. “Overall, after what we lost from last year’s team (7 seniors) I never called it a rebuilding year, but instead an adjustment year. I firmly believe that we have a good group of juniors who are now tournament tested. You could see what a good group of seniors does by watching Quabbin, we are one step away from being what Quabbin is.”
Halloran credited his departing pair of seniors for their play Friday and all season long. “I thought we got great contributions this year and tonight from Chris Burley and Tyler Bostek. They are going to be tough to replace with their inside presence and experience.”
Despite the loss and the season ending, Halloran said, “Overall this was a very successful year for the program.”
“I would have liked to see us perform better tonight but it’s one of those things when the ball doesn’t go in, the ball doesn’t go in.”
Junior Mike James led the Pirates with 9 points, and fellow juniors Cody Stone and Barrie added with 6 and 7 points respectively for the Pirates, who finished with an 11-10 record.
Mike James and Cody Stone with coaches.
- Saturday, 03 March 2012
- Posted in Categories: : Sports