Drury boys basketball leaves it all on floor in MIAA D-IV state semifinal
SPRINGFIELD — It had been more than two decades since a Drury boys basketball team made it to the MIAA state semifinals. This Drury team wasn't going to go down without a fight.
The Western Massachusetts Division IV champion Blue Devils were down by 17 points with just over six minutes to play in the fourth quarter. They stormed back to cut Worcester Tech's lead to single digits, but ran out of time as the Central Massachusetts champions held on for a 70-62 win, and a trip to Saturday's state title game.
"I knew we were hungry this year," Drury coach Jack Racette said after the game. "This is all icing on the cake.
"[But] we had a chance."
The Blue Devils (19-6) rallied from a six-point deficit in the second quarter to take a 30-27 lead at halftime. But the Eagles rocked the Blue Devils with a 17-4 run over the first six minutes of the third quarter. While Drury did get itself within striking distance, it proved to be too much of a hole for Racette's squad to dig out of.
"We knew, coming in [to the season], if you said we were going to be in the Final Four, I think I would have liked my chances," the veteran Drury coach said. "We had some tough, tough competition [in Berkshire County]. That's a Taconic team you're playing out there, and we compete with those teams day in and day out."
Scott McGuire Jr. finished up with a team-best 22 points, scoring 13 of them in the second half. Reece Racette chipped in with 19 points, netting 11 of those in the final 16 minutes.
Reece Racette, Drury's all-time scoring leader, finished his stellar career with 1,456 points.
"They were extremely tough. That McGuire kid is one of the best players we've faced all season," Worcester Tech coach Sean Lynch said. "Between him and Racette, they're relentless. They don't quit. They play hard, very aggressive."
Brendon Hamilton, Worcester Tech's 6-foot-5 center, finished with a game-high 24 points and 20 rebounds.
"We knew coming in the big guy was going to be a tough stop," Coach Racette said. "I think they made some good adjustments [in the second half], getting the big guy some touches. We didn't do the little things in the third quarter, and they extended that lead."
Reece Racette's reverse layup with 38 seconds left in the second quarter capped off an 11-2 run to close out the first half and give the Blue Devils a 30-27 lead. All nine of McGuire's first-half points were scored in the second quarter.
Worcester Tech (25-2) and Drury traded baskets to open the third quarter, and when Obilio Rodriguez challenged Hamilton and scored, the Blue Devils were up 32-29. Hunter Sarkis helped keep Drury afloat early and finished the first half with nine points.
The Eagles scored five points to take a 34-32 lead, but McGuire — who only made a pair of 3-point baskets — tied the game when he used a screen to find a seam in the Worcester Tech defense to drive to the hoop. He was fouled, but missed the foul shot.
It was a constant theme throughout the night for Drury, as the Blue Devils uncharacteristically missed 17 of 26 free throws in the game. They were 3 for 14 in the first half.
Hamilton may have been the toughest big the Blue Devils saw all year. He isn't quite as tall as Taconic's Mohammed Sanogo, who is 6-foot-7. But Hamilton weighs in at 215 pounds, and was a handful down low. He got inside on Max Dougherty for a basket and a 3-point play, making it 37-34.
"Brendon has been doing it all season for us," Lynch said. "We have three senior captains, Brendan, Jose [Bonilla] and Zaire [Peart]. They played phenomenal tonight.'
Worcester Tech held Drury scoreless for two minutes, while scoring 10 points. While Hamilton was the big weapon for the Central Mass. champions, the two biggest baskets were made by Peart.
The senior guard, who finished with 10 points, gave Worcester Tech its first double-digit lead. First, he drained a deep 3-point shot, one of two made by the Eagles. Then Peart rebounded a Reece Racette miss, dribbled through the Drury defense, and scored to make it 44-34.
Worcester Tech nursed a double-digit lead until the latter minutes of the fourth quarter. Bonilla's hoop put the Eagles up 63-45 with 3:33 left. Some teams might not have come back. Drury is not just some team.
Reece Racette made six straight points to start a 12-1 run that cut the 18-point lead to 10. That was the good news. The bad news was that there was only 2 minutes left on the clock.
Racette's last basket as a Drury player came with 1:25 left, to make it 67-61. Try as they might, the Blue Devils could not get another basket, and the Eagles locked up the victory with three big foul shots in the final minute.
Losing one win away from playing for a state championship is painful. But it is a pain masked somewhat by a memorable winter for Drury High School and for North Adams.
It also made an impression on the returning veterans, and what they're going to have to do to get back here.
"It was really successful season," said Sarkis, one of four juniors on the Drury side. "The team we played, they were good and they took it to the hole good. I think for next year, I think we're going to have to keep working and improving over the summer and in the off-season, and try to come back stronger."
McGuire 8-4-22, Rodriguez 2-0-4, Racette 7-5-19, Massey 0-0-0, Dougherty 1-0-2, Sarkis 3-0-9, Brazeau 1-0-2. Totals 23-9-62.
WORCESTER TECH (70)
Latorre 1-3-5, Bautista 5-1-12, Kumah 2-2-6, Peart 3-3-10, Enlow 3-0-6, Hamilton 9-6-24, Siayor 1-0-2. Totals 26-17-70
Drury 16 14 8 24 — 62
Worcester 15 12 25 18 — 70
3-point goals — D 5 (McGuire 2, Sarkis 3); WT 2 (Bonilla, Peart).
Howard Herman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @howardherman on Twitter, or 413-496-6253.
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