By Steev Riccardo
The Shepherd Hill Rams saw their bid for a Clark Tournament championship game slip through their fingers on Thursday night (Feb. 23) as they lost a hard fought 48-45 battle to a powerful Quabbin Panthers team in front of a rowdy crowd.
This was the third meeting between the two teams this year. The Panthers won the first meeting 79-71 on their home court, while the Rams took the second meeting 80-69 in Dudley. The tiebreaker proved to be a classic and there was certainly no letdown.
Both teams came out a little stiff but the Panthers used a huge 17-7 rebounding advantage to take a 10-6 lead after the opening quarter.
Seniors Matthew Rayla and Kyle McKissick each scored six points in the second quarter, sparking the Rams while cutting the Panthers lead to 21-18 at the half. One of the 6’5” McKissick’s baskets was a massive dunk that brought the house down.
The third quarter was an epic battle between two teams which both wanted it. Jesse Gilchrist connected on a pair of deep three-pointers and junior reserve Justin Terlizzi came in off the bench and gave the Rams a spark with five points.
The Rams, who trailed 38-35 heading into the fourth quarter, tied the game on a Terlizzi jumper at the 5:48 mark and from that point on it was a race to the finish with the two teams going back and forth.
McKissick was outstanding in the fourth quarter but the Panthers were able shut down the Rams every time they had a chance to go ahead mostly due to the play of all-star point guard Christian Horton, who was all over the court making plays.
The Rams had one last chance to tie it but Gilchrist three-point shot with 6 seconds left barely missed and their Clark run was over.
Rams head coach Duane Corriveau took the loss well and was proud of the way his team performed against a strong Panther squad. “I can’t fault my team in any way they came out and played as hard as they could play; offensively we are a little better than we showed tonight but that was because they played great defense. They are a good team.”
Rayla also praised the Panthers. “After playing them three times, we know each other pretty well. They are a good team and a very well coached team. When they came to our place, we won the rebounding battle and I think they took it to heart and they came in here and outrebounded us tonight.”
McKissick led the Rams with 14 points, 10 rebounds, and one monster dunk that even surprised him. “That is the first time I have ever done that, they are usually on fast breaks, it must have been the excitement, I got up there on that one.”
Rayla added 10 points and despite losing was happy that his team was invited to play at Clark University. “This is such a fun tournament to play in, it has a different kind of feeling playing here.”
The 14-7 Rams won’t have much time to rest as district play starts up early this week and they look to get back on the winning track and advance in the playoffs.
- Friday, 24 February 2012
- Posted in Categories: : Sports