Friday, February 12, 2016

Marlborough Grounds Groton-Dunstable to Clinch Mid-Wach B Title

Marlborough senior captain Brian Short (31) scored 16 points in the Panthers’ 72-60 victory over Groton-Dunstable. Sophomore Chris Doherty added 25 points, as the Panthers clinched their second consecutive Mid-Wach B League title.
By Jason Siegel

The Marlborough Panthers outshot the Groton-Dunstable Crusaders on senior night in Marlborough on Friday.

Marlborough (14-4, 11-1 Mid-Wach B) defeated Groton-Dunstable (10-9, 9-4 Mid-Wach B) 72-60, clinching the Mid-Wach B League championship for the second consecutive year.

Neither team could pull away early, but the Crusaders came out firing, drilling four 3-pointers early in the first period en route to a quick 16-11 lead.

Marlborough head coach Bryan Riley adjusted his defense to try and cool off the Crusaders.

“We started to close out, play more aggressively,” coach Riley said of his team’s defense.

Marlborough began to press late in the first quarter. The Panthers kept the pressure on for the duration of the game, and collected a total of 12 steals. Connor McCabe forced five turnovers, while Owen Cappadona and Brian Short had three steals each.

The decision to put pressure on Groton-Dunstable paid off for the Panthers. The two teams were tied at sixteen at the end of the first quarter.

Offensively, the MIAA playoff-bound Panthers turned to star sophomore Chris Doherty, who contributed a team-high 25 points and 8 rebounds.

“I was just feeling it," Doherty said. "My shot was going early. I was getting good looks."

Doherty’s involvement was part of the game plan, according to coach Riley.

“We wanted to get Chris (Doherty) more involved. He started making shots, making free throws,” Riley added.

Doherty had 14 points in the first half, and the Panthers took a comfortable 10-point lead into halftime.

Gavin Keough contributed 25 points on six 3-pointers in the Crusader’s quest to upset the Panthers. He scored five points early in the third quarter to cut Marlborough’s lead to two.

The Panthers pulled away again late in the third quarter, courtesy of Joao Mendes, who scored all of his points in the first eight minutes after halftime. Mendes finished with 9 points, including one 3-pointer.

Senior captain Brian Short scored 16 points, including two 3-pointers in the fourth quarter. The senior helped the Panthers put Groton-Dunstable away in his final regular season game in Marlborough’s gym.

“I came out, made a few (buckets), and just tried to keep it going through the second half,” Short said of his double-digit performance on senior night.

Short became nostalgic and reflective when talking about senior night.

“Everyone says (senior night) comes quick, and it really does,” Short said, thinking back to his freshman year, when he watched from the sidelines and aspired to be just like the seniors.

He has led Marlborough to a Mid-Wach B League title, and will continue to lead them through the MIAA playoffs.

He said with confidence that the Panthers are prepared for the postseason.

“Hopefully… We can make a run to a state championship,” Short added.

First, the Panthers will play Tewksbury on Sunday. Marlborough still has a ways to go, but led by a group of seniors who have postseason experience and the dynamic play of Chris Doherty, perhaps this Marlborough team has the ingredients necessary to be state champions.

Groton-Dunstable will try to return to their winning ways in their upcoming game against Clinton on Monday at Clark University in Worcester.

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