On Tuesday night in Rochester, the Spaulding Red Raiders showed why they're one of the top teams in the NHIAA and are favorites to make it to the Final Four in Durham for the third time in four years. They jumped on Bedford early, leading 10-2 halfway through the 1st quarter and 18-7 after 1. Spaulding led by double digits for the remainder of the game, cruising to a 65-36 win. The Red raiders are now 10-2 on the regular season (13-2 overall).
"We had been in a funk the last 3-4 games, not playing our best basketball" said Spaulding head coach Tim Cronin. "So it was nice to pull out of it. I was pleased with the effort."
Most impressive for Spaulding was how well they moved the basketball. The way they run their sets it's like a well oiled machine. There's nothing fancy about it. You don't have high flying dunks or fadeaway 3's. It's team basketball. It's good execution, with kids setting good screens, making crisp passes. veryone knows where they're supposed to be, they find the open man and they finish well near the rim. Chris States (15 points), Darian Berry (14 points) and Anthony Ciccotelli (12 points) led the way for the Red Raiders - all 3 of them are seniors.
"We've been playing together for awhile" said States, a 6-foot-2 wing. "We're a really unselfish team."
States got things started by drilling an 18-footer off the dribble from the right wing, as both teams opened up in half court, man-to-man defense. States slashed to the rim for 2, as no help side defense came over for Bedford. Berry (St. Joe's recruit) converted a put-back to make it a quick 6-0 lead for Spaulding with 5:43 left in the 1st quarter as Bedford High head coach Mike Fitzpatrick called timeout.
Out of the timeout the Bulldogs got on the board, as senior wing Ryan Brown made a nice dish to Joshua Bauer for a layup. Ciccotelli scored 2 quick buckets inside and it was 10-2 Spaulding. Bauer took it strong to the rim for 2, but then Berry grabbed his own rebound and put it back in for an and-1 finish to make it 13-4 Red Raiders. Brown drove inside and banked in a runner.
"The tempo was in our favor, everyone shared the ball" said Coach Cronin. "I wasn't that pleased with the defensive effort. We let them get to the basket."
Austin Gagne came off the bench and converted an easy layup off a baseline out of bounds play. Then Matt Roy came off the bench and hustled for an offensive board, which led to a slash to the rim for 2 by Berry. It was 18-7 Red Raiders after 1 quarter.
Junior shooting guard Ryan Hughes scored 8 points (all on jumpers) for Bedford in the 2nd quarter, but Spaulding was still able to increase their lead. Hughes hit an 18-footer off the bounce from the left wing, but then Ciccotelli made a nice put-back inside. Ciccotelli had a strong game inside on both ends of the floor. He is active in the paint, strong and skilled. He's a tough match up for opposing teams.
Sophomore wing Cal Connelly took it strong to the rim for 2 and it was 22-10 Spaulding. Hughes countered with a 3 from the top of the key off the catch. The Red Raiders kept the momentum going, as Player of the Year candidate Berry slashed to the rim for 2 buckets in a row, showing good quickness off the dribble. After the second basket it was now 26-13, and Coach Fitzpatrick called another timeout with 4:24 left in the 1st half.
Berry zipped a pass ahead to Roy for a layup in transition (right after Bedford missed a layup on the other end). Then Spaulding senior guard Brock Paquette drained a 3 (he was wide open) from the right wing and it was 30-18 Red Raiders. Hughes (team-high 13 points) hit another 3 to cut the lead to 32-21. But then Spaulding rattled off 5 quick points to end the half, as Paquette threw up a lob pass from up top towards the basket over to States, who caught it and while still in mid-air he turned to the rim and laid it in. Roy hit a buzzer beater from 3/4 court (although it looked like he traveled prior to releasing the shot) and it was 37-21 SHS at halftime.
Berry hit a 3 early in the 3rd quarter off the catch from the left wing - he was left open thanks to some good ball movement by Spaulding. The good ball movement continued, as States cut back door, caught the pass in stride and finished the layup. Brown was doing his best to keep Bedford in it, as he made a good spin move into the lane for a floater and then pushed it hard in transition, making a good move to the rim for 2 more.
Still, Bedford was never able to make a run and cut it back under single digits. The outcome of this game was never in doubt from the 2nd quarter on. Ciccotelli hit a turnaround leaner out of the post, and on the next trip down made another nice post move with an up-fake, spin move to the rim for a layup. The Red Raiders quickly got the ball back, and States took it to the bucket with a nice hesitation dribble for 2 more. Spaulding was running the Bulldogs out of the gym, as they now led 48-26.
Hughes ended the run, hitting another 3. Then Bedford 6-foot-7 sophomore forward Colby Gendron jumped the passing lane to make a nice steal. He went hard to the rim, got fouled and made 1 of 2 FTs. It was 51-32 Red Raiders after 3.
Bedford kept playing hard in the 4th, even wit the large deficit. Colby Gendron made a good effort by grabbing his own rebound and putting it back in for 2. Then Gendron made a strong baseline drive for another bucket. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, those would be the only 4 points they would score in the 4th quarter, with Spaulding outscoring them 14-4 in the final frame.
Berry slashed to the rim for a strong finish, and then he threw a pass ahead to senior guard Mitchell Cyr for a fast break layup. That made it 59-36 Red Raiders with 5:23 left in regulation and forced Coach Fitzpatrick to call a timeout.
Out of the timeout Spaulding kept cruising, ending the game with 6 more unanswered points. They showed more good ball movement, with States again cutting to the rim, catching the pass in stride and making the layup. On the next trip down the floor Cyr zipped a pass over to Ciccotelli who was cutting to the bucket for 2 more. That made it 63-36 Red Raiders with 4:14 remaining, as Bedford called yet another timeout. Both teams started pulling their starters, and Spaulding cruised to the 65-36 win. Bedford falls to 7-7 on the season.
"We just need to do better against teams like Londonderry, Central and Pinkerton" said States. "If we come out strong right from the beginning and play a full game we'll be all set."
Spaulding's 2 losses thus far have come against Central and Pinkerton. The Red Raiders host Londonderry (13-0) on the last night of the regular season, March 6.