GROTON -- Basketball, when broken down simply, has a pretty standard rule of thumb. A team can't score if they can't hold on to the ball. The Groton-Dunstable boys' basketball team learned this during their home opener on Sunday evening. The Crusaders turned the ball over 25 times, including 10 in the opening quarter as they fell into a double-digit hole they never could dig out of, falling to Tyngsboro 69-49.
"We had too many careless turnovers, especially in the early going, and that killed us tonight," said Groton-Dunstable coach Keith Woods. "On the possessions we did take care of the ball, we couldn't hit our shots. If you turn it over 25 times and shoot under 30 percent, you aren't going to be anybody."
In the opening quarter, the Crusaders hung tough in the early going, using a three-pointer from Corey Romich off a Coleman Hill feed to tie the game at 8-8, but the turnovers eventually caught up to them and sparked a Tigers run.
Tyngsboro reeled off 16 of the next 17 points over a five-minute span, taking advantage of nine turnovers during that period. Drew Hurynbiwucs got things rolling with five points on a pair of layups and a free-throw while Austin Coene closed things out with the final six points, including a pull-up 17-foot jumper that gave the Tigers a 24-9 advantage.
A quick 6-0 run by Groton-Dunstable temporarily stopped the bleeding. Phil Dubay and Matt Conlin both came up with three points apiece as the Crusaders closed within nine at 24-15, which was the last time they would be within single digits on the night.
Coene continued his outstanding play by scoring six points in the final four minutes of the opening half. Thomas Jacobs added seven of his own while Chuck Keenan closed out the scoring with a long three-pointer off a Benjamin Foley feed that pushed the Tyngsboro lead to 18 at 42-24 heading into the intermission.
"It seemed like every time we might get ready to put together a run, we would make a turnover or they would hit a big shot," said Woods. "Our offensive game never could get in sync in the first half and we weren't coming up with stops on defense."
Trailing by 20 at 49-29 midway through the third quarter, Groton-Dunstable put together a quick 8-2 spurt to try to get back into the game. Dubay came up with a layup, Coleman Hill converted a conventional three-point play, and Drew Moore added a three-pointer off a Shane Dawson feed to make it 51-37 after three quarters of play.
The lead was cut to 11 at 56-45 midway through the fourth quarter when Dawson, who had a strong second half especially defensively, set up a Romich three-pointer, but that was as close as it got. Keyed by a pair of three-pointers from Keenan, the Tigers finished out the game on a 13-4 run to account for the 20-point margin of victory.
"Give Tyngsboro credit, they played very well and did a good job of taking care of the ball," said Woods. " This group hasn't played much together, so it will take a while for us to gel. We just need to execute better as we move along."
Dubay paced the Crusaders with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Romich finished with 10 points, four boards and six assists. Conlin added nine points and six rebounds while Coleman Hill chipped in six points and four boards.
Coene led all scorers with 26 points.