NORTH EASTON, Mass. – Through the first 16 minutes, there was virtually no separation between #16 Oliver Ames and #17 Plymouth North.
But through the final two quarters, the Tigers turned a tie game into a double-digit lead and picked up a 69-50 win over the Eagles.
OA surrendered 18 points in the opening quarter but the defense improved in each quarter. The Tigers limited Plymouth North to 13 points in the second quarter, 11 points in the third quarter and just eight points in the final quarter.
“I think the biggest thing is what we got a pretty good defensive contribution in the second half,” Oliver Ames coach Don Byron said. “Rayshon Ward got off and running there in the first half. I thought Shawn Cardoza, being the primary guy, did a nice job of making him work a little harder to get his looks. That was big for us.”
Ward, a 6’6 senior for the Eagles, had nearly half of the team’s points in the first half (15) but Cardoza and OA limited him to just five points in the second half.
The majority of the separation came in the third quarter. With a two point advantage (37-35), OA closed out the remaining five and a half minutes with a 18-7 run. Senior Tim Kelley got the run going while Carter Evin and Shawn Cardoza each converted a field goal in the paint and Dylan Mahoney drained a three. Mahoney added a pair of free throws and a strong take to the rim and sophomore Jack Spillane came off the bench to drain a corner three in the final seconds to put OA up 55-42 at the end of the quarter.
“We hit a couple of timely shots, guys coming off bench hit shots too,” Byron said “When they pressed I thought we attacked it well and got ourselves in positive number situations. We didn’t always make the correct decision but we got into attack mode and that was good.”
Mahoney and Evin opened the fourth quarter with back to back baskets to extend the lead to 17. A quick spurt from the Eagles cut it to 12 but that would be the closest they would get. A two minute scoreless stretch kept OA’s lead at 14 and when Plymouth North finally found the bucket, junior Nick Welch answered for OA.
The Tigers didn’t allow Plymouth North to score over the final three minutes of play to seal the win.
While OA had a comfortable lead for the majority of the second half, the advantage might have been bigger if the Tigers had converted at a higher rate from the free throw line. OA went 0/8 to start the game and finished 5/16.
“Foul shooting is so critical,” Byron said. “We were like 0 for 7 right out of the gates. You can’t really get a good control of the game unless you hit a decent percentage so that was part of it. There were some time situations I would have liked to play better but all and all I’m really happy with what went on tonight.”
Evin finished with a team-high 19 points along with four rebounds, Mahoney scored 17 points and had seven rebounds and Cardoza had eight points to go along with 14 rebounds and a solid defensive performance.
Mahoney had 11 of his 17 points coming in the second half (including nine in the vital third quarter).
“When he attacks the basket, he can be tough to guard,” Byron said of Mahoney, just a junior. “He had some matchups that were favorable I thought. He has a great first step and he’s athletic at the rim. We try to tell him to play inside out, try to play at the rim first then work your way out to the three ball. We want him to be a slasher who has a jump shot and not the reverse of that. When he does that, he’s hard to guard.”
Oliver Ames finished with a monstrous 54-30 advantage on the glass. Connor Maroney had nine rebounds along with six assists, Tim Kelley had seven points and five rebounds and Nick Welch had seven assists and four rebounds.
The Tigers (11-10) advance to the First Round on the MIAA D2 South bracket. Oliver Ames boys basketball will travel to #1 Bishop Feehan in a rematch of last year’s D2 South final. The game will tip off at 6:30 on Wednesday, March 2nd.
Ryan Lanigan can be contacted at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.
Ryan Lanigan is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of HockomockSports.com. You can contact him at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and follow him on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.