By: Tuesday and Friday
“Tell the rest of the teams in D1 Boys not to finish in 5th place anymore!!” This is what a smiling Jack Quirk said to me before he boarded the Memorial bus for the happy ride home to 1 Crusader Way. Jack was referring to the fact his team was in the same 5th seed upset loss to Dover 1 year ago. “We were in the same situation as BG when we played Dover last year. We reversed it this year.”
I used the quote “upset??” in my title for this article. That’s because I don’t consider this an upset. This game was even in my mind when I saw the match up first announced. So, pardon me for using a couple of question marks in my title, but I think it’s appropriate.
The BG student section did their best to take everybody’s mind off of the cold winter by donning summer attire. Beach shirts and shorts along with sunglasses and pool floats permeated the student section at BG. Nice touch by the BG students to lighten up the cold and dark night. The Cardinals and Crusaders performed like the weather outside in the first quarter. Memorial had a 13 to 12 lead after 1. Both teams were deliberate on offense and moved the ball around a lot before taking a shot. Joe Marandola had 10 first quarter points to lead BG.
The 2nd quarter was more of a pace that related to the 2 teams and this 12/5 matchup. Kabongo hit a 3 with 6:42 left in the 2nd to give Memorial a 22 to 15 lead. With 4:10 left in the first half Brandon Scott finished an And1 3 point play to give Memorial its biggest lead at 30 – 22. Gavin and Marandola got BG back in the game with some key hoops to bring BG to within 32 to 30 at halftime. Memorial went 7 deep and BG went 9 deep on their bench. One wondered if it would play a factor in the 2nd half.
The 3rd quarter was played at a nice up tempo pace. Both teams eased into this prelim game as fast breaks and frenetic offensive possessions started happening. With 1:42 left in the 3rd Maughn picked up a technical. Kyle Gavin led BG with 12 third quarter points. Malo and Maughn each had 5 third quarter points to keep the Crusaders even with BG at 46 heading into the 4th.
A funny thing happened in the 4th quarter. With BG going deeper all night on their bench the Crusaders were the team with an extra step in the last quarter. The Memorial players came up with a series of key steals in the defensive arc area. They had more fast breaks in the last period. When I asked Coach Quirk if he was surprised by his team being fresher in the last period he said, “Not really. We have a fast and quick team. Honestly, they can run all night.” With 5:48 left in the game Senior Josh Simpson hit a FT to tie the game at 51. In the next 2 and a half minutes Memorial went on a 12 to 2 run which essentially closed out the game. Fresher legs, quicker steps and first to the ball was what Memorial did during this span. “Our defense was great during this sequence. We came up with key steals and a series of stops which was key” said Jack Quirk.
The final 2 minutes became a foul line procession for the Crusaders. They iced the game at the charity stripe. They went 12 – 20 from the line in the 4th period. Unfortunately, for the Crusaders, 6’3 senior Josh Simpson was called for a flagrant foul with an elbow to the head of a BG player. Simpson will have to sit out their quarterfinal game with Londonderry. Simpson had a good game for the Crusaders clogging the paint, getting rebounds and being a paint presence. Quirk said, “It really was unfortunate for him to receive the flagrant, but you have to hold your emotions in check when it gets intense out there.”
For BG Kyle Gavin had an outstanding game finishing with 26 points. Senior Joe Marandola had a nice game in his last one at BG with 14 points. A subdued and realistic Jim Migneault praised Memorial after the game. “They played very well and deserved to win. They were cohesive tonight and it showed on the court.” When I asked Coach Jim if there was anything he would’ve done differently in the 4th quarter he said, “Not really. We missed some good opportunities to score when the game was still in doubt. We left it all on the court. I’m proud of my team.”
I saw a confident and calm group of Crusaders tonight. They didn’t fold the tents when things didn’t go their way. They kicked it into another gear that was quicker and faster than what the Cardinals could give in this game. You can officially file Memorial under D for Dangerous. They can score, they can run and they match up well with Londonderry in the Quarterfinal game in Lancer Town on Friday. It will be a #12 at #4 game, but in my mind it’s a Dead Even Pick Em game.
“We match up well with Londonderry. We both like to push the ball and score. We’re both fast and quick. It’ll hurt not having Simpson, but we’ve got other players who can step up. We’re looking forward to playing Friday night.”
With those words the loquaciously effervescent Jack Quirk triumphantly exited the BG court.