SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Wayne Selden can anticipate that it’s coming, and he’s prepared to be proactive in order to explain.
“You wanna talk about the loss to Brewster Academy?” he asked. “Maaan, that was a crazy game.”
Selden goes on to list the reasons Tilton (N.H.) fell in overtime, 84-78, at Brewster Academy (Wolfeboro, N.H.) on Dec. 11. He reels off everything from the calls not going the Rams’ way to the fact that they were missing shooting guard Dominique Bull, a senior who has signed with Missouri.
Then there’s that whole conspiracy theory about the Rams actually winning at the end of regulation per the stat sheet. Selden said he was told by a scorekeeper that Tilton should have actually won by one after the fourth quarter.
“I know it sounds like a lot of excuses,” said Selden, a sophomore shooting guard who is ranked No. 10 in the ESPNU 25. “But that really added to why we didn’t win. I admit, though, we still should’ve won the game. I cannot wait to play them again. I want to play them right now. Let’s go to the gym now.”
He won’t have to wait long.
Round 2 of the bitter, intense rivalry will commence at the Spalding Hoophall Classic on Sunday at 4 p.m. ET on ESPN.
“We definitely don’t make excuses, but that game was, let’s just say, different,” said Tilton center Nerlens Noel, a junior who is ranked No. 2 in the ESPNU 60. “I think being on a neutral court, the outcome will be a lot different. Either way, it will be very intense.”
Brewster Academy senior swingman T.J. Warren lit Tilton up for 32 points in the overtime win, and over the last month he’s heard all of the excuses that the Tilton players gave for the loss. But Warren anticipates more of the same.
“It will be another intense game with a lot of trash talking I’m sure,” said Warren, an NC State signee who is ranked No. 23 in the ESPNU 100. “I know both teams will give their best shot. The only difference this time is we want to beat them by 30. That’s just our mindset.”
The Bobcats weren’t far from that in the first meeting, leading by as many as 22 points in the first half before the Rams staged a furious comeback to force overtime. That’s all the proof Noel needed to convince himself that Tilton could come away with the win Sunday.
Noel and Selden have yet to win against Brewster in their two years at Tilton.
“We turned it on when we needed to, but then I fouled out before the end of the fourth quarter,” Noel said. “I know the game would’ve gone different had I not fouled out. I can’t remember fouling out of a game in forever, but I fouled out there. But like I said, we’ll just have to leave no doubt about who’s better this time. It’s what a rivalry is all about.”
Brewster Academy coach Jason Smith downplays the whole idea of a rivalry with Tilton, pointing out that New Hampton Prep (N.H.) is the Bobcats' true rival.
“That’s not to knock Tilton, but it’s just another game for us,” Smith said. “We’ve been fortunate enough to be ranked No. 1 all year among polls that include five-year prep schools. Tilton is obviously a great team, but we look at it as an opportunity to prove that we’re the top team in the country.”
Selden and Noel have the same goal, and the fact that they could potentially do it on national TV “is just the icing on the cake.”
“We couldn’t have asked for a better scenario,” Selden said. “This game is something that I have been so ready for after the last one. No more talking after this one. We’ll let the whole country decide who’s better.”