A packed, rowdy gymnasium in a foreign place didn't phase the experienced Oliver Ames boys' basketball team.
From the get-go, OA scratched, clawed and fought their way to a demanding win over Somerset-Berkley, 65-43, to advance to the quarterfinals of the Div. 2 South Sectional Tournament.
"There was enough experience out there," OA coach Don Byron said. "I thought we came out pretty composed."
OA's composure helped propel them to a 14-0 lead to start the game.
Experienced varsity players like point guard Nick Bruha and guards St. Claire Ryan and Andrew Reardon helped get the Tigers off on the right foot. Bruha controled the tempo while Ryan scrapped his way to seven points in the opening period. Reardon's shooting helped him score 10 points in the first.
For the Blue-Raiders, who trailed 23-7 entering the second period, there was just too big of a hole to climb out of.
"I thought we came out a little timid," Somerset-Berkley head coach Robert Slater said. "All season long we’ve been aggressive and we spotted them 14 right off the bat and that hurt. We made a nice comeback. If we had played like that at the beginning I think that score is a lot closer at halftime."
Somerset-Berkley outscored OA, 18-10 in the second period to cut OA's lead to 33-25 at the half.
Led by center Jeff Babbit, though, the Blue Raiders' run was cut short at the beginning of the second half. Babbit's presence in the middle and seven points in the third period put the Tigers in control of the game for good.
Byron said the 6-3 big man has been a key to OA's gameplan all year.
"We depend on that every night," he said. "We’re not particularly big. So, we really kind of depend on that."
Babbit finished the game with 11 points. Bruha led the Tigers with 15 points, followed by Reardon's 13 and Ryan's 9.
For the Blue Raiders, guard Cam Christo finished with 11 points. Center Joe Goldstein ended with 10 points. It wasn't enough to stop a fast-paced Tiger team, though.
"I give OA a lot of credit," Slater said. "They came in here and played their game. They controlled their tempo and they beat us at their game."
OA will need to carry their momentum to Falmouth Thursday night to take on the top seeded Clippers (18-2).
Byron said the Tigers usually struggle with teams that have more height than them. After their center Kyle Kasprzyk, Falmouth does not pose a height problem.
"We’re playing against a team our size," he said. "I know it’s a good team, but I know we’re not going to get beat just because of style."