Huberdault drops 27 in win
by Steev Riccardo
WEBSTER – The short-handed Bartlett Indians went on an 18-2 run to open the third quarter and cruised to an 86-66 win over the Tyngsboro Tigers in the opening round of the Central Mass Division 2 district playoffs Tuesday night at Bartlett.
The Indians’ team, hit by a bout of the flu, was six players short, including starting center Jacob Mailloux and sixth man Neil Flanigan. Still, Indians’ coach Tony Paranto was able to use his bench effectively and rely on the leaders in his starting lineup, to advance to a semi-final game vs. perennial Central Mass power St. Bernard’s of Fitchburg.
Indians’ senior co-captain and sharpshooter Matt Huberdault had an outstanding game, burying six three-pointers while scoring a team high 27 points, including 15 in the second half.
Junior Alex Givins-Perry also had a strong game for the Indians, scoring 24 points, while senior co-captain Akeem Belnavis finished with 16 points, and junior co-captain Evan Anderson had 11 points and 11 rebounds in a superb performance.
With the Indians holding a slim 36-32 lead, they came out of the locker room after the break and ran the Tigers off the court early, outscoring them 18-2, opening a 54-34 lead.
To the Tigers credit, they did battle back and cut the lead to eight points in the fourth quarter, but the Indians made their free throws down the stretch and held on for the win.
Paranto and the Indians made some defensive adjustments to start the second half, which stopped the Tigers and in turn opened up the offense, which led to a 50 point second half.
“We weren’t getting anything from end line to end line so we moved the defense back a little bit and it confused them,” said Paranto. “We had a lot of traps at half court and then we went back to the 1-3-1 (zone defense) and took away the middle from them and they didn’t make their outside shots.”
On the play of his senior guard Paranto said, “We expect Huberdault to make those kinds of shots for us, especially at home. He did a nice job.”
He also credited the play of Anderson, who often does more for his team than what shows up in the box score. “He does all the intangibles, he takes charges, he sacrifices his body. It’s nice to see him score for us too.”
Eighth grader Anthony Grzembski, starting in his first varsity game, did a nice job of running the offense, hitting a pair of three-pointers as well for the Indians.
“It was his time even though he is an eighth grader. After playing the whole season for us he is like a freshman now,” said Paranto. “I thought he did a pretty good job for us. He controlled the offense and did what a point guard is supposed to be doing and he also hit a couple of big shots for us.”
With only one day to rest and a lot of sick kids, the show must go on for the Indians against an excellent team. “Division 2 championships go through St. Bernard’s. I told the team afterwards if you want to be the best you have to go through the best.”
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