The path to the playoffs became much simpler for the Bow boys’ basketball team on Monday.
After handling their business with a crucial 61-53 home victory over Plymouth, the Falcons’ fate is in their own hands. Clinging to the final spot in Division II’s postseason picture, Friday’s upcoming contest against Pembroke will serve as a win-and-in.
“This was huge,” Bow coach Frank Moreno said. “There’s mathematically some ways we can still get in even if we lose Friday, but we had to have this win. We’re going to fight for this last spot, we’re going to go and battle Pembroke, but we knew we needed this one if we were going to have a chance.”
Thanks to a standout performance from senior guard Ryan Andrews and the work of the big bodies inside the paint against Plymouth, the Falcons got that chance.
Andrews finished with a team-high 20 points, freshman forward Shaun Lover added 12 and the efforts from sophomores Steven Guerette and Ben Harris inside allowed the Falcons to erase an eight-point deficit at halftime and beat the Bobcats to keep their playoff hopes alive.
“At the very beginning of the season we set a bunch of goals, and coming off a season like last year, one of those goals was to get into the playoffs,” Moreno said. “What I said to them in the locker room is that we still have an opportunity to achieve that big goal. If I told everyone at the beginning of the season that we’d be fighting for a playoff spot on the last game of the regular season, we would take that. We have a great opportunity now and our fate is in our hands.”
Bow set itself up for success with a spirited second half against Plymouth (7-10). The Falcons outscored the Bobcats, 16-6, in the third quarter and then became the aggressor in the fourth, drawing fouls and converting 10 of 14 chances from the free-throw line.
Slowing down Plymouth’s Nick Qualey also helped. Qualey caught fire in the first half, but was held to three points in the second half to finish with a team-high 20 points for the Bobcats.
“(Qualey) was torching us from the outside,” Moreno said. “I watched a lot of film on them and haven’t seen him shoot like that before, but we kind of locked him down a little bit in the second half. ... We got back into the game in the third quarter just going inside the first few minutes. We went high-low, used Guerette and Harris and they did some damage inside to help us fight back into it.”
Moreno’s full attention now tilts toward Pembroke, which defeated the Falcons, 61-51, on Feb. 2. The regular-season finale has meaning for both teams. Bow is fighting for its playoff life and the Spartans are angling for a top four seed and home-court advantage.
“Pembroke is really tough and very well coached,” Moreno said. “They have some real scorers on that team with (Jake) Sherman, (Noah) Cummings and (Sean) Menard, so they’re a very strong team and we fought them hard at our place. I’m hoping that we can have that same type of game and then just see what happens.”