Strong First Half Defense Propels OA Past Barnstable

Oliver Ames boys basketball
Oliver Ames’ Chris Pearsons (left) defends a Barnstable guard in the first half. (Ryan Lanigan/
NORTH EASTON, Mass. – Oliver Ames executed its defensive game plan to perfection in the first half against Barnstable, allowing the Tigers to create a large lead that they never gave up.

The result was a 58-44 win over the Red Raiders, as the Tigers improved to 4-2 overall.

“It was terrific, our first half defense was very, very good,” said OA head coach Don Byron.

Oliver Ames limited the visitors to a mere two points in the opening quarter on 1-for-9 shooting while forcing eight turnovers.

“We schemed it to double their pick and pop that they run,” Bryon continued. “They really rely on that almost 100% of what they do. I thought our double on that was good, I thought our rotation was good. We got a couple of steals out of that with the rotation being exactly where it was supposed to be.”

While Oliver Ames’ offense got off to a slow start itself (10 points in the opening quarter on 5-for-19 shooting), its defensive effort allowed for the Tigers to get their scoring going. And that happened in the second quarter, with OA shooting 6-for-11 and senior Jack Spillane scoring 16 of his game-high 30 points in the game.

“We came right out and doubled them,” Byron said. “We brought a weak side defender across to play the pop man and we probably had a half dozen steals off that which is real helpful when the offense is choppy. Sometimes you get a runout or two and the offense starts to find its form.”


With Oliver Ames holding a 16-7 lead, Spillane rattled off a 10-0 of his own to give OA a 19-point lead. First, he converted down low off a feed from Chris Pearsons (two points, six rebounds, six assists) and then drained a three.

Spillane came away with a loose ball and easy layup on the other end and after back-to-back misses from the Raiders, Spillane banked in a three to put the Tigers ahead 26-7 with just over three minutes to go in the half.

Leading 32-13 at the break, Oliver Ames came out of halftime with a quick 7-0 burst to take its largest lead of the game. Matt Muir (seven points, three rebounds) scored down low off a pass from Spillane, Spillane connected from deep for his lone field goal of the quarter and Muir went baseline for two more.

Barnstable went on to outscore OA 16-9 for the remainder of the quarter, but the Tigers held a 48-29 lead heading into the final frame.

“Offensively was a little bit choppy early,” Byron said. “Then we settled into a decent rhythm and by the end of the half, we were okay. Our third quarter, we’ve had a little bit of a habit lately, where we foul a little bit more, we miss a couple more foul shots, and all of a sudden people start pecking away at us. But overall, happy to get the win.”

The Raiders got within 13 at the midway point of the fourth quarter, but Spillane put a dagger into any hopes of a comeback with another triple.

“You look up and the lead is 13 points and then he splashes a three and 16 seems a lot better to me than 13 when you look up at the scoreboard,” Byron said.

Junior Ethan Eckstrom added four points to go along with 15 rebounds, a big reason that the Tigers held a 37-31 edge in the rebounding battle.

Oliver Ames boys basketball (2-1 Hockomock, 4-2 overall) is scheduled to begin Kelley-Rex division play on Friday when it hosts Franklin at 6:30.

Ryan Lanigan
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