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Sunday, December 29, 2013
BABC: No. 1 Putnam 62, Cambridge 47

By Chris Bradley

BOSTON —- Cambridge had upset on their mind on Saturday afternoon, especially considering that they were only down by six to top-ranked Putnam after three quarters.

Then the Beavers (3-0) went back to Coach William Shepard’s pre-game speech on having fun and trusting their preparation. Through flawless offensive execution in the fourth quarter, Putnam was able to withstand the upset bid, knocking off Cambridge (3-1), 72-57, at the BABC Holiday Classic.

Putnam was led in scoring by forward tandem David Murrell (22 points, 9 rebounds) and sophomore Tyonne Malone (18 points, 6 rebounds), opting for shots in the paint and often working the ball around until they found just the right shot. Shepard made it clear to his team before the game: basketball is a lot more fun when you execute.

“That was our pre-game talk: what we do in practice,” Shepard said, “I said ‘that’s my time in practice guys, this is your time. You guys should be confident in what we do in practice every day, it’s why we work you guys the way we work you guys—it’s for these statements games like this, you guys can have a good time and enjoy yourselves.”

Enjoy themselves they certainly did. The Beavers shot 62 percent from the floor, only deeming it necessary to shoot five three-pointers the entire game.

“Practice is hard, the game is supposed to be fun,” Shepard said.

In the losing effort, Fredens Deneus put up 12 points and 13 rebounds for the Falcons, while point guard Isaiah McLeod totaled 14 points. In a game that was a nail-biter until the last few minutes that also boasted an irregular amount of aggressive play, the Putnam coach was just relieved for the game to be over:

“Yes, very relieved," he said. "That was a hard fought game, Cambridge came out prepared and ready to go. We were trying to adjust to what was being called, to make that adjustment, but the kids just played tough and played hard and we came up with the victory.”

Murrell comes back strong: The game marked the first of David Murrell’s senior season, as he previously sat out injured for the first few games of the year. Murrell wasn’t much of a factor offensively in the first half, only finishing with four points after the first two quarters of play.

However, the senior came up big in the second half and was efficient when it mattered, finishing with 22 points on 8-for-10 shooting from the floor. Shepard couldn’t have been happier about Murrell’s play after the game, especially knowing that Murrell is far from full strength at this point.

“He’s still not 100 percent, but he brings that toughness down low, that rebounding and energy," Shepard said. "I think he scored maybe three or four times just off of out-of-bounds plays -- just knowing the plays. Tyonne is still catching up, and they both had those little nuances that got us through it.”

The presence of Murrell greatly helped Malone, giving the 6-foot-5 sophomore swingman space to create and score off the dribble – a skill he has shown to be most accustomed to.

“Oh it helps out a great deal -- David helping him out on the boards. Tyonne’s new to the system, but he battled back. He was a little confused at times in the first him, but he didn’t let that stop him. He battled back and had a great second half,” Shepard said.

The Wright stuff: A dislocated shoulder just couldn’t keep Dizel Wright out of the game.

Wright finished with 14 points on the afternoon for Putnam, but his more impressive feat may have been his ability to come back for the last few minutes of the game after his shoulder popped out of its’ socket late in the third quarter.

So Wright did what he thought was necessary: He went to the locker room and popped his shoulder back into place, iced it for a few minutes, and relentlessly reminded his coach on the bench that he could go back in the game.

“When I looked at it I was scared, it looked real bad, I started asking for medical attention -- I didn’t know what to do,” Shepard said, “He said when it overextends it pops out sometimes. He came back in and said he was ready to go, I left him out and he kept saying he was ready to go.”

Wright came back into the game just in time to finish an acrobatic lay-up at the rim and knock down two free throws to put a bow on the victory for Putnam. The Beavers will take on sixth-ranked New Mission on Sunday afternoon for the final day of the BABC Holiday Classic.