End ten-year Clark hex
By Steev Riccardo
WORCESTER – The Oxford Pirates won their first Clark Tournament game in almost ten years and advanced to the semi-finals and a marquee match-up with Quaboag with a 52-51 win over a scrappy Maynard Tigers team on Monday afternoon at the George F. Kneller Athletic Center at the Clark University gymnasium.
The Pirates opened a 16-10 first quarter with a balanced scoring attack led by a pair of hoops from senior co-captains Tyler Barrie and Mike James and a 3-pointer by Donny Freeland.
Freeland hit a couple more 3-pointers in the second quarter, which helped the Pirates maintain a six-point 29-23 halftime lead.
The Tigers went on a 8-0 run to start the third quarter and take their first lead of the game 31-29, but the Pirates battled back behind the 3-point shooting of Barrie and held a 43-41 lead after three quarters in what had become a physical battle.
The fourth quarter was an all-out-war with both teams playing aggressive defense, making points hard to come by. It wasn’t until James made two clutch free throws in the final seconds that the Pirates could seal the win.
“Overall we are thrilled to get this victory, it’s a big win for the town and a big win for us,” said Pirates coach Sean Halloran.
“We really stepped up defensively in the last six minutes,” said Halloran who praised a couple of unlikely heroes.
“I thought Liam Pickett did a great job defensively for us today. He is not someone known for his defense but he came up big. I couldn’t be more proud of the effort that he gave us.”
In somewhat of a surprise move, freshman Shaun McCarthy, who spend most of the season with the junior varsity, gave Halloran some good minutes as well. “Shaun has had a heck of a season at the jayvee level. He probably has deserved to play more minutes with the varsity, but the lineup we have and all the seniors, I would rather have him develop. In a game like this I thought he could benefit and he gave us some really good minutes.”
Freeland, who is the team’s defensive leader, credited Maynard afterwards. “We knew they weren’t big but we knew they were going to play tough and physical, which they did. They didn’t give up; they stayed in it until the end.”
Barrie, who sprained his ankle last Thursday against Grafton, surprisingly showed no effects at all and played a great game. “I was icing my ankle all weekend and did anything I could do to play this game. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to play but I fought through it.” He certainly did, leading his team with 15 points.
Freeland had some nice numbers as well, with 14 points and eight rebounds and James not only hit two key free throws down the stretch but added nine assists to go along with eight points.
“The kids have a better plan that just winning this game,” said Halloran and that involves avenging an earlier loss to Quaboag.
“We know we can play with them so we would love another shot at them.”
The Pirates get their shot as the Pirates and the Cougars are to meet up in a much-anticipated rematch scheduled to take place Tuesday, February 19.