Text and photos by Steev Riccardo
OXFORD – The Oxford Pirates (7-5) ended a three game losing streak in style with some impressive long range shooting, resulting in a big 71-61 win over archrival the Shepherd Hill Rams (9-4) on Wednesday (January 23) night at Oxford High School.
It was pretty obvious to everyone that the Pirates needed a win to save their playoff hopes and in the process put together one of their best performances of the year, hitting fourteen 3-point shots while getting tremendous efforts from several players on both sides of the ball.
Senior reserve Gianni Christo had a career high 20 points, including four 3-pointers to lead a great all around team effort that saw co-captain Donny Freeland score 14 points and fellow co-captain Mike James and junior Liam Pickett each score 13 points.
The Rams, led by seniors Tyler Martin and Justin Terlizzi, got off to a quick start and opened a 16-8 lead after the opening quarter.
Christo came off the bench in the second quarter and gave the Pirates a huge spark, scoring 13 points while leading the Pirates to a 33-32 lead at the intermission. Freeland also hit a pair of key 3-pointers that helped erase an eight point Rams lead.
The Pirates exploded in the third quarter as both Freeland and Pickett buried a pair of 3-point shots in a 23-14 quarter that resulted in a 55-47 Pirates lead.
The Rams battled hard in the fourth quarter but it was the Pirates’ night as they bore down on defense and continued to get key hoops en route to the win.
“Overall it was a great win for us, we really needed this win after three straight losses,” said Pirates coach Sean Halloran. “The last three quarters was probably the best basketball we have played all year. I couldn’t be happier; this is a really big win for us.”
“I thought we played well defensively. They are a big team and they get a lot of points in the paint. We held them off in the fourth. It helped getting Bryan Bjorkland back in the lineup; he is very long, great defensively. It was a luxury having him and (Jarod) Buckley out there at the same time.”
Halloran knew he got a great game from Christo but even he was a little surprised that the reserve senior had 10 points on the night. “He has been a good role player for us, really dedicated, playing summer league and AAU and has been lifting weights. He has committed himself to the game and he came in knowing he would be a role player as a senior, knowing that he wasn’t going to start, but he has contributed every single game. He is a great practice player and he has worked on his 3-point shot. He hit some big shots for us tonight.”
Rams coach Duane Corriveau was unhappy about his team’s nine-game winning streak coming to an end but took it all in stride.
“When you are on a streak, you are going to have a down game, take nothing away from Oxford they deserved to win. You are going to have hiccups.”
“Their pressure threw us off, they put on that press and we turned the ball over way too many times,” said Corriveau. “We played right into their hands. We expected them to make their shots but we expected to score ourselves.”
Freshman Michael Rapoza continued to play well for the Rams, leading them with 17, while Terlizzi pitched in 11 points in the loss.
The Shepherd Hill junior varsity took the preliminary 68-64. Pat Carney led the way for the Rams’ 19 points. Jake Parmenter and Shaun McCarthy each had 13 for the Pirates in a losing effort.
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- Friday, 25 January 2013