Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Fourth Quarter Explosion Pushes Nashoba Boys Hoops Past Algonquin

By Jason Siegel (@jasiegel1821)

NORTHBOROUGH, Mass.- The Nashoba Chieftains took down the Algonquin Tomahawks, 72-61, in a physical game on Tuesday night in Northborough.

Despite winning by 11 points, it was Algonquin (1-2), not Nashoba (3-0), who controlled most of the game.

The Tomahawks jumped out to an 11-6 lead in the first quarter, with six points being scored by junior Kyle Henderson, who led Algonquin with 17 points to go along with 5 rebounds and 3 assists. 13 of Henderson’s 17 points came in the first half.

The Chieftains finished the first quarter on an 8-2 run, and led 14-13 after 8 minutes of play.

The T-Hawks stayed tough in the second quarter, erasing deficits of 19-15 and 26-21. After Nashoba fell behind 31-26 with 2:13 remaining in the first half, a basket by captain Justin Peirce (21 points, 5 rebounds) and a three-pointer by Connor Jesson (14 points, including four 3-pointers) trimmed the T-Hawk lead to 32-31 at the half.

Jesson credited his teammates for four three-pointers.

“It’s more my teammates getting me open and giving me the opportunity to make shots. I just got to knock them down,” Jesson said about his success from behind the arc against Algonquin.

The intensity and physicality of the game picked up in the third quarter. Nashoba center Connor Ojerholm made his presence known early in the second half. Ojerholm blocked a layup attempt by Algonquin captain Brett Sherman (15 points, 7 boards). Ojerholm finished with 5 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 blocks.

The Chieftains also played tighter defense on Henderson, doing everything they could to deny him the ball and keep him off balance. Nashoba succeeded, as Henderson scored just 4 points over the last 16 minutes of play.

The pace of play also picked up, as the teams went up and down the court. Both teams missed layups and fought for rebounds as time wound down in the third quarter.

Algonquin sophomore Nick Redden hit a deep 3-pointer with one second remaining the in third period, allowing Algonquin to open the fourth quarter with a 45-40 lead.

Chieftain captain Trevor Manyak drove hard to the basket on Nashoba’s first two possessions of the fourth quarter, with each one resulting in a layup. The Chieftains chopped the Algonquin lead down to 45-44 with 6:40 remaining in the fourth quarter.

A steal and fast break layup by Jesson gave Nashoba a 47-45 lead, but Algonquin sophomore Brian Duffy (6 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists) made the T-Hawk fans roar by drilling a 3-pointer and giving Algonquin a 48-47 lead.

Peirce put the Algonquin fans back in their seats, responding with a 3-pointer of his own.

Duffy tried to answer with another three-pointer, but could not convert. The sophomore hustled to grab his own rebound and laid the ball in, tying the game at 50 with 3:53 remaining in the fourth quarter.

With a combination of three-pointers and driving layups, the Chieftains went on a 10-0 run in the next 1:28 to take a 60-50 lead with 2:25 left in the fourth period.

The Tomahawks began intentionally fouling with two minutes left, but Algonquin never closed the gap by more than 8 points. After scoring 40 points through three quarters, the Chieftains poured in 32 points in the fourth quarter.

Jesson said that the Chieftains found a rhythm offensively in the fourth quarter that allowed them to pull away from Algonquin.

Nashoba showed a lot of grit and toughness in this game. They played aggressively on both ends of the floor and found ways to stay in the game until their offense started clicking. They made a nice defensive adjustment by keeping the ball away from Henderson, and were able to neutralize Algonquin’s primary ball handler and most explosive player.

Algonquin also played hard on both ends of the floor, and made the Chieftains earn everything they got. The Tomahawks were in the game until there were two and a half minutes remaining. Their schedule does not get any easier, as they host an undefeated Marlborough Panthers squad on Thursday.

Nashoba does not have a lot of time to enjoy this win, as they travel to Oakmont Regional High School on Wednesday.

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