The Oliver Ames boys basketball team proved Thursday night that they don't submit to pressure.
In fact, when pressure is at its highest, the Tigers are at their best.
No. 9 Oliver Ames traveled to Falmouth and toppled the top ranked team in the MIAA South Sectionals, 65-48, to advance to the South Sectional Semi-Finals.
"Honestly, I can’t remember a better played game by any team I’ve had since I’ve been here," OA coach Don Byron said. "It was the whole package. Defensively, I thought we were really, really good the whole night. 32 minutes of good hard defense. We rebounded well. We distributed on offense really well. We made great choices on the offensive side."
With the win, and riding the momentum, the Tigers will play Stoughton in the next round at a site and time to be determined.
Falmouth, which was without its starting center Kyle Kasprzyk because of an ankle injury, came out shooting well to start the game and finished the first period with a 19-15 lead behind Andrew McGill's seven points.
The Clippers were unable to fend off a break-out OA second period, though. After being outscored, 26-9, in the second, Falmouth went into the locker room for halftime down, 41-28.
It was a deficit they weren't able to recover from.
"They were bumping us and playing aggressive," Falmouth head coach Paul Lundberg said. "I thought our defense was there but a couple of times in the second quarter we had a rebound and they came in out of nowhere at least four times and put it in."
Even with an 11-0 run midway through the third period and a team-high 17 points from McGill, the Clippers couldn't capitalize and take the lead from Oliver Ames.
OA guard St. Claire Ryan led all scorers with 20 points, including 11 in the third quarter while tri-captain Nick Bruha (seven-points) controlled the game from the point guard position.
"They were a better team," Lundberg said. "[Ryan] was unbelievable. [Bruha], he could score but he was very unselfish. They killed us on the boards. We had wide open shots, but we just couldn’t put them in."
OA forwards Jeff Babbitt and Denzel Bennett took advantage of Kasprzyk's absence on the glass. Babbitt ended the night with 15 points, all of which were in the paint or from the free throw line.
"I figured [Babbit] would be a big part of this," Byron said. "We knew their big kid had an ankle injury. Denzel Bennett had a great game on the glass too."
The Tigers also had significant contributions from sophomore forward Nick Cidado, who ended the game with five points, and senior forward John Moroney, whose three first half 3-pointers provided an early boost for the Tigers and propeled him to 11 points.
"I thought Cidado had his best to this point, and he’ll probably have some more before he’s done," Byron said. "He’s a good young sophomore. John Moroney – terrific job in the first half. He gave us a spark."
OA will look to continue to lean on its thick skin and experience in the next round. With experienced players like Bruha, Ryan and tri-captain Andrew Reardon, the Tigers will look to take the season tie-breaker from league-rival, No. 4 Stoughton.
On Jan 7, . The Tigers avenged their loss a month later
"We'll see what happens," Byron said.