GROTON -- It was a long time coming. After winning their opener, the young and inexperienced Groton-Dunstable boys' basketball team had fallen on hard times, finding themselves on an eight-game losing streak over the last month. That came to an end Friday night in their best offensive game of the season, easing their way to an 80-59 victory over Hudson in Mid-Wach B action.
"There was a lot of pent-up frustration that came out tonight, and it was good to see the kids playing free and easy," said Groton-Dunstable coach Keith Woods. "Offensively, we played a really efficient game and executed extremely well. We pushed the ball and got points in transition, which is something we try to do. I thought we did a great job of taking care of the ball, which has been an issue all year long."
The game at points was a shootout between Corey Romich and the Hawks' Jake Loewen. Romich led the Crusaders with a game-high 29 points to go with five rebounds and seven assists, while Loewen led Hudson with 27 points. But the difference was in the surrounding pieces. Charles Hill was outstanding in the post for Groton-Dunstable with 10 points and 13 rebounds, while Drew Moore came off the bench to add eight points and four assists, showing off his versatility by playing three different spots in the lineup.
"Corey came up with a great effort and this is a sign of things to come with him," said Woods. "We showed off our depth tonight.
It took just over two minutes for the Crusaders to show they meant business, sprinting out to a nine-point lead. Coleman Hill got things rolling with a three-pointer from the corner off a Romich look while Phil Dubay added a pair of free-throws. Romich then found the range, knocking down consecutive tries off Matt Conlin feeds to make it 11-2 and force a Hawks time-out.
The long ball would be a theme for Groton-Dunstable in the first quarter as they would hit six shots from beyond the arc. Romich added two more tries and Moore knocked one down as well, as the Crusaders held a 22-16 advantage after eight minutes of play.
In the second quarter, Loewen single-handedly kept his team in the game. Hudson's senior guard went off, scoring 15 of his team's 17 points in a variety of matters. On the other side, Groton-Dunstable had six different players score, led by Romich and Hill with four points each, as they pushed their lead to eight at 38-30 going into the break.
Turnovers have been a running theme for this Crusaders team as they have averaged nearly 20 per game, but in the first half they were perfect. Groton-Dunstable did not commit a single turnover over the game's first 16 minutes, keying their offensive exploits.
"When we play fast but under control, we can be a pretty good team," said Woods. "The problem we have had this year is that we have been playing out of control. Tonight, we made good passes, found the open guy and did a lot of good things."
Any hopes of a comeback were quickly dashed when the Crusaders went on a 10-1 run early in the third quarter to blow things open. With the score 41-35, Romich got things started with a pull-up 14-foot jumper, Charlie Burke added a three-pointer and free-throw, Clint DeLong hit for a layup and Moore connected on a short jumper to make it 51-36.
Looking for the knockout punch, Groton-Dunstable delivered it with a five-minute stretch of play late in the third and early in the fourth quarter that saw them outscore the Hawks 17-2. Romich led the way with seven points and two assists. Scott Csaplar and Hill scored four points each, while Moore added two points and an assist as the lead grew to 28 at 74-46 before settling at the 21-point final spread.
"Defensively, I thought Charles Hill did a solid job on Loewen in the second half, holding him to only two field goals," said Woods. "There is a lot of work left to do, but this was a nice win to get. I feel like we can still make some noise in our league, we just have to keep playing hard and see what happens.