Boys' basketball hammers Marshfield in first round of playoffs

The Newtonite

[media-credit name=”Jacob Schwartz” align=”alignright” width=”180″][/media-credit]

Senior Luke Westman goes up for a layup.

by Kristian Lundberg
If you were out there wondering whether the Tigers, sluggish in the last few weeks of February, could return to their December and January form, Thursday night was your answer.

In their resounding 75-49 victory over 12th-seeded Marshfield at home that night, the Tigers, 18-3, displayed the tenacity and precision they were sorely missing in their past two contests, which resulted in a damaging two-game losing streak. Having fallen so quickly from a guaranteed top spot to a middling fifth seed, the Tigers needed a strong response to right the ship. As usual, their seniors delivered.

Senior Michael Thorpe, a captain with seniors Jared Masinton and Luke Westman, led all scorers with 21 points, and fellow senior Tim Stanton contributed 13 to lead the charge for the Tigers.

Stanton, who didn’t play basketball last season and found himself starting from day one this year, was instrumental in leading the offense on a night when Westman, the team’s consummate field general, was virtually neutralized by stingy Marshfield defense.

“Tim is like the glue that holds everything together,” coach Paul Connolly said. “He’s come in and delivered strong performances for us, and he was terrific tonight.”

For Marshfield, junior Alex White netted 13 points, but the Rams could not keep up with the Tigers’ high-octane offense after Marshfield took a 6-4 lead two minutes into the game. The Tigers responded quickly with a 21-7 run to close out the first quarter and never looked back from there, securing a 45-26 lead at the half.

Among other key contributors was sophomore Liam Bruno, who stepped up off the bench, often in Westman’s place. Bruno converted a three-point play with 1:15 left in the first half to extend the Tigers’ lead to 22.

“Liam stepped up when he got his number called,” Thorpe said. “It’s wonderful that anyone can step up and score, and it’s a huge threat for us.”

Next up for the Tigers is their second-round opponent, 13th-seeded New Bedford, whom the Tigers defeated in the Sectional Semifinals last year. They’ll host the Whalers Saturday at 4 p.m., but for now, the team will enjoy a season extended for one more game, if only momentarily.

“The best thing right now, as a coach in March, is to be able to go into the locker room and to tell your guys that you have practice tomorrow,” Connolly said.