Saturday, March 12, 2016

Marlborough Rally Comes Up Short vs Concord-Carlisle in D2 Central Championship

Marlborough sophomore Chris Doherty (33) comes up with a clutch block in Marlborough’s 41-38 loss to Concord-Carlisle in the MIAA Division 2 Central final Saturday at Fitchburg State University. Doherty had 15 points, 16 rebounds and the pictured block that led to a layup and cut Concord-Carlisle’s lead to one with 6.5 seconds remaining. Concord-Carlisle advances to the MIAA Division 2 state semifinal to be played on Monday at the DCU center in Worcester.

Ed. Note- For video of this game, head to ESPN Boston for editor Joe Parello's highlights.

By Jason Siegel

The Concord-Carlisle Patriots held off the Marlborough Panthers en route to a 41-38 victory in the MIAA Division 2 Central sectional finals at Fitchburg State University on Saturday.

The Panthers (18-5) were plagued by shooting struggles and scoreless stretches throughout Saturday’s contest.

“We just didn’t make enough shots,” Marlborough head coach Bryan Riley said simply.

Riley attributed his team’s stagnant offense to the defense of Concord-Carlisle (21-1), saying that “Concord had something to do with” Marlborough’s offensive woes.

Both teams struggled to put the ball in the basket in the first quarter. With four and a half minutes remaining in the first eight-minute period, Marlborough led 3-0, courtesy of senior Joe Tirpak’s three-pointer.

Concord-Carlisle’s first field goal came with 3:45 remaining in the first quarter.

After eight minutes of missed shots, turnovers, and fouls, Marlborough led 10-7.

“It was kind of a rock fight,” Coach Riley said. "I thought if we got into that, we would have prevailed, but that wasn’t the case today.”

The Panthers scored the first five points of the second quarter, jumping out to a 15-7 lead. But the Patriots responded with an 8-0 run of their own, holding Marlborough scoreless over the final 5:10 of the second period.

It appeared that Marlborough would have a two-point advantage at  halftime, until Concord-Carlisle senior Eric Sellew snatched an offensive rebound and laid the ball back in at the buzzer, tying up the game at 15, and giving the Patriots the momentum at the end of the first half.

Concord-Carlisle carried the momentum with them early in the second half, scoring the first five points of the third quarter and jumping out to a 20-15 lead.

Marlborough responded with a couple of baskets and cut the lead to 20-19.

Concord-Carlisle countered with a 10-4 run to close the third quarter and took a 30-23 lead into the fourth quarter.

“We just couldn’t get one to go in the third quarter,” Riley said, adding that he thought his team committed too many fouls during the third period.

It appeared the Panthers had a chance to make a comeback when senior Eric Sellew, who contributed a team-high 15 points and 9 rebounds to Concord-Carlisle’s cause, was whistled for his fourth foul with 6:50 remaining.

After Sellew sat down, the Patriots went on an 8-0 run and opened up a 12-point lead, the largest lead for either team in the game.

“We couldn’t get one to go when we needed to,” Riley said of his team’s inability to capitalize off of Sellew’s sojourn to the Concord-Carlisle bench.

Although Marlborough was down, they were not out. The Panthers picked up the pressure on defense. Chris Doherty and Owen Cappadona trapped Concord-Carlisle’s Aidan Cyr (10 points, 5 rebounds) in the corner and forced a turnover.

On the next possession, after knocking the ball away from Concord-Carlisle, Marlborough’s Liam Shanahan dove for the ball to keep it in bounds and got it to a Marlborough guard.

With 1:20 remaining and Concord-Carlisle leading 39-34, Sellew missed a pair of free throws. Thirty seconds later, six-foot-six sophomore Chris Doherty (15 points, 16 rebounds, 2 blocks) made two free throws to cut the Concord-Carlisle lead to three.

Doherty’s biggest play, however, came with ten seconds left. He blocked a Patriot layup attempt and got the ball to senior Joao Mendes, who drove coast-to-coast and made an uncontested layup, cutting the Concord-Carlisle lead to 39-38.

“He played his heart out today,” Coach Riley said of Doherty, adding that Doherty “took the warrior spirit” and gave all he had.

Unfortunately for Marlborough, Doherty’s play was not enough to get past the Patriots. Eric Sellew hit two free throws with 6.5 seconds remaining. Then, Marlborough junior guard Owen Cappadona (10 points) missed a contested three pointer at the buzzer.

“We’re never going to lie down,” Riley said about his team ending the game on a 12-3 run. “We started playing freely there in the last five minutes, and we made a run at it.”

Although the outcome of the game was not what he was hoping for, Riley said he was satisfied with his team’s effort.

“I’m very proud of our kids… They never gave up,” Riley said after the game.

Although their season ended earlier than they had hoped, the Panthers have plenty to be proud of, including winning the Mid-Wach B regular-season championship, and reaching the sectional finals for the second consecutive year.

Concord-Carlisle will move on to play in the MIAA Division 2 state semifinals on Monday at 7:30 pm at the DCU Center in Worcester.

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