DORCHESTER, Mass. -- Standing toe to toe with No. 9 BC High basketball, No. 20 Fitchburg tied the game up at 49 with 3:35 to go.
However, in the dwindling minutes of the game, the Eagles were able to tag on another 12 points, sending the Red Raiders away with a long ride home and a 61-52 loss, despite Quinton Perkins' 14 points Saturday afternoon.
“I told the guys you’ve got to respond,” said BC High coach Bill Loughnane, referring to the Red Raiders' late run.
With the score tied, 39-39 going into the fourth quarter, Loughnane's message was clear and direct: “We’ve got to win the next eight minutes.”
BC opened up the lead to six at 47-41 in the fourth, but by the 3:35 mark, Fitchburg had knotted the game up again at 49. A spate of field goals and free throws from Fitchburg’s Abi Akanni (20 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, block) propelled the Red Raiders back into the hunt for an upset. But lack of offensive production from therein, coupled with BC’s Charles Collins (21 points, six steals) and Oderah Obukwelu (12) dropping buckets for the Eagles, stymied any chances of that happening.
13-1 Run – Both Coaches Worried?
The game began with BC High playing steal, rebound and shoot, amounting to an early 13-1 lead over Fitchburg. It’s clear why Fitchburg head coach Paul DiGeronimo was concerned about his team.
But with his team up 13-1, what could Loughnane have been thinking about?
“We were worried. We didn’t want them to get happy with themselves because we’ve seen Fitchburg, we know how good they are and we knew there were going to be a couple of runs coming at us.”
DiGeronimo hoped for the same thing, and got it.
“We came out like… they weren’t taught anything, like they weren’t prepared but they were well prepared for this.”
After a couple of timeouts, the Red Raiders closed out the quarter on a 7-2 run, allaying DiGeronimo’s fears some and making Loughnane’s prediction come true. All else aside, DiGeronimo was not disappointed in his team. With BC High a ranked team, DiGeronimo thinks that his guys may have been intimidated in the beginning of the game, accounting for BC High’s 13-1 opening run. “What started out as a bleak day turned into a tremendous effort to get us back into the game… Once they got over the shell shock, start talking on defense a lot more, stay aggressive, stay confident, nothing that they’re not told all of the time.”
Although the Eagles nearly doubled up Wachusett (50-29) on Thursday, they also defeated St. John’s Prep 53-47 on Tuesday night. A busy week for the Eagles, and playing on a Saturday afternoon, attributed to their play late in the game according to Loughnane.
“That was our third game in five days against three quality opponents. They dug down and they took care of business... Our legs were a little spent but they did a nice job of digging down and getting it.”