Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Algonquin tops Shrewsbury in Mid-Wach Thriller

By Jason Siegel (@jasiegel1821)

Shrewsbury, Mass .- The Algonquin Tomahawks used a next-man-up mentality in Tuesday night’s Mid-Wach A matchup against the Shrewsbury Colonials to pull out a 71-68 win at Shrewsbury High School.

Algonquin star scorer and junior captain Nick Redden suffered an ankle injury while going up for a block three minutes into the game and would not return, but the T-Hawks (8-2, 3-1 Mid-Wach A) made ten 3-pointers to propel themselves past the Colonials (5-7, 1-4 Mid-Wach A).

According to Algonquin head coach Brian Doherty, Redden has a twisted ankle, and there is no time table for his return.

At the start of the game, it was Shrewsbury junior Phill Smyrnios knocking down triples. He hit three 3-pointers in the first 1:40 of the contest, opening up an early 9-2 advantage for the Colonials. Smyrnios would finished with a team-high 18 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals.

A three-pointer by Algonquin senior captain Seth Krivanec sparked a 14-1 run to close the first quarter, and sophomore Artem Segarra (11 points) punctuated the run with a three-pointer of his own, allowing Algonquin to jump out to a 26-15 lead heading into the second period. 

Adding to the adversity faced by Algonquin in the first half was foul trouble, as both of their forwards, Mike Spataro and Will Goss, had three fouls before halftime.

Coach Doherty was forced to go to a small lineup, with both Goss (6 points) and Spataro on the bench.

Shrewsbury took advantage, outscoring the Tomahawks 18-8 in the second quarter, cutting their halftime deficit to 34-33.

Shrewsbury sophomore forward John West (16 points, 9 boards, 3 steals, 2 blocks) scored seven points in the second quarter to get the Colonials back into the contest.

The Colonials continued hanging tough early in the third quarter. A pair of free throws by West with 4:17 remaining made the score 38-37.

Algonquin senior captain Kyle Henderson helped the T-Hawks regain control not by scoring, but by passing. He assisted on a pair of three-pointers made by junior Sean Cullen (17 points on four 3-pointers) in the third period.

Coach Doherty said that Cullen’s performance was “absolutely fantastic” and was proud of the way Cullen stepped up, especially after Redden’s injury.

Henderson stuffed the stat sheet with 12 points, 9 boards, 10 assists, and 2 steals. He spent much of the game looking to pass and repeatedly set his teammates up for open looks from beyond the arc.

Coach Doherty was pleased with Henderson’s leadership on the floor against Shrewsbury.

“(Henderson) controlled the floor,” Doherty said after the game. “He did a great job.”

Henderson assisted on a three-pointer by Segarra, and Cullen hit another shot from beyond the arc to open up a 51-43 advantage for Algonquin heading into the fourth quarter.

The T-Hawks were not out of the woods yet, however, as Shrewsbury continued fighting back. A lay-up and a tip-in by West cut Algonquin’s lead to 55-51 with 5:30 remaining.

Algonquin went ahead 58-51 on a free  throw by Cullen and layup by Brian Duffy off a pass from Henderson, but the Colonials countered with a three-pointer by senior captain Sam Mack (8 points) and layups by senior Cole Nelson and Mack, which tied the game at 58.

A three-pointer from Henderson gave Algonquin a 64-59 cushion with 2:32 remaining. Following a rebound and putback by West, the teams traded layups to make the score 66-63 in favor of the T-Hawks.

Henderson found Cullen open in the corner again with under a minute remaining and Algonquin leading by three. Henderson screamed “make it!” as Cullen took the shot, which splashed through the net to give Algonquin a 69-63 lead with forty seconds remaining.

A 3-pointer by Shrewsbury sophomore Cole Fisher cut the Colonial deficit to 69-66 with 5.6 seconds left, but Duffy drilled a pair of free throws to seal the win for the T-Hawks.

Doherty said he was happy with the way his team battled throughout the night. He was also pleased with the ball movement his team displayed, headlined by Henderson’s 10 assists.

“We stress (ball movement) every day,” Doherty said after the win. “That’s how we play. We don’t play well when we don’t move the ball.”

Henderson echoed the sentiments of his coach in regards to ball movement.

“We stressed (ball movement) a lot in practice this week,” Henderson said following the victory. “We’d been very stagnant on offense the last couple of games, so I wanted to make sure we got everyone involved tonight.”

Henderson certainly did that, and he demonstrated that he can take over a game not only with his scoring ability, but also with his passing. The T-Hawks also showed that they have other players who can score besides Redden and Henderson, and they played hard for all 32 minutes.

Algonquin will be back in action on Friday when they host St. Bernard’s in a non-league matchup.

The Colonials battled hard throughout the game and took advantage of their size, especially in the second quarter when the T-Hawks dealt with foul trouble. However, they were not able to make enough plays down the stretch to come out with a win.

Shrewsbury will be home once again on Friday night when they host Mid-Wach A opponent Leominster.

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