Friday, February 16, 2018

Marshfield Captures ACL Title Against Falmouth

By Eamon Convey (@ConveyWEEI)

Marshfield, Mass. - For Marshfield boys basketball, revenge is a dish best served with an Atlantic Coast League regular season championship on the side.

The Rams (13-2, 7-1) hosted the Falmouth Clippers (15-4, 6-2) in a rematch of a game that the Clippers won, 59-50, at home versus the Rams on January 12th of this year. This time however, it was Marshfield that enjoyed its home-court advantage, en route to a 66-48 victory for the ACL regular season title.

“Nobody believed in this group,” Rams head coach Bob Fisher said, as his eyes welled up. “Yet he we are, champions.”

The first quarter flew by without a single stoppage as both teams played solid defense and worked their respective offensive sets. Senior captain Chris Croke had five points and four assists, while fellow senior captain A.J. Conn filled up the stat sheet with eight points, a rebound, an assist, and a block in the frame for the Rams.

Yet it was Clippers guard Eli Harris that literally stole the show with a late pilfer and pull up for three at the buzzer to get within five points of the Rams at the end of one.

“When we lost to them, we were looking for revenge.” Conn said. “And we got it, so it’s awesome.”

In the second quarter it was more of the same from the Clippers who ripped off two more baskets thanks to senior Sam Koss and junior Anthony Karson before Fisher called a time out in an attempt to get the Rams back on track.

Yet, the Clippers persisted, thanks in part to hustle and rebounding from junior forward Kyle Cardoza who finished the second quarter with four points and three offensive rebounds.

The Rams ended the period on a high note thanks to a nice and-one conversion by Conn and, with little time left, Croke found Pat Fitzgerald in the right corner for a trey that gave the Rams a 27-25 halftime lead.

“I think that definitely swung us the right way going forward,” Conn said. “That was big shot, we were reeling at the moment so it was huge. Fitz made a great shot.”

“No one gave us a chance early,” Fisher said. “No one believed in us. We had three kids go different directions [before the season] for whatever reason, I don’t want to get into it. We are like a diamond in the rough. We get polished and we get better and better and better and we’re playing really good basketball. The kids can shoot it. We can defend. We’re not good at rebounding, but you can’t do everything well.”

And better the Rams got.

In the third quarter, despite losing Joe Weisgerber for nearly 10 minutes with a minor foot injury, senior Nilter Pina stepped up with two points, an assist, and four rebounds and Conn poured in nine on three treys. But the the third belonged to sophomore guard Mike Walsh who secured a possession-extending rebound and went off for 11 points, including a deep three at the horn which gave the Rams a 53-35 lead at the end of the third quarter.

“I love this group,” Fisher said. “It is a special group. No one gave them a chance and here we are champions. Walsh had a great game a sophomore and he’s getting better and better. The kids underneath (non-starters) are good.”

After Walsh carried the Rams in the third, it was Conn’s turn once again to catch fire, nailing another pair of threes and draining a contested layup in front of Falmouth’s Duke Melton to put the game out of reach.

“If we win one more and we get a home game in the tournament, who knows,” Fisher said. “They have got to come in this place and beat us, so who knows. Our kids grind it out, they played with the best… Special group.”

“Everyone’s been sleeping on us,” Conn said. “But we can beat anyone, we can play with anyone. So, watch out.”

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