(Hamilton MA) Talented Jeff Spellman (31 points) led Beaver Country Day School past Pingree, 81-64, on a rainy Friday night in Eastern Independent League action.
The win gives BCD (19-1) an undefeated league season as well as their fifth straight EIL championship.
Pingree (16-6) had an enthusiastic crowd (It was their senior recognition game) but no first-half defensive answers for guard Jeff Spellman.
Beaver was missing point guard Keyshaun Jacobs so that meant Jeff Spellman handled the ball more than usual. In this game, that change spelled disaster for Pingree in the first half.
Jeff poured in a remarkable twenty-five points in the first sixteen minutes. He hit three’s from five different spots. He made driving layups in traffic and added free throws. It was quite a show, to say the least.
Kyle Lentini (10 points) had the Highlanders up, 8-7, after 2 1/2 minutes. The next four minutes of playing time belonged to the Beavers. The visitors put a 19-3 segment together and vaulted ahead, 26-11, with eight minutes left in the first half.
6-9 Jacquil Taylor (Purdue) cashed three straight layups. On one Jacquil (14 points) was assisted by Kevin Scarlett, another was a rebound putback, and the third was a jam off of a steal.
Jeff Spellman closed the scoring in this separation segment with two straight long ones. He made the first from the top of the key and the second from the corner off an inbounds play.
The separation segment pushed Pingree down by double digits and they would never get inside that barrier the rest of the way.
Jeff Spellman closed the first half with a buzzer-beating three to give Beaver a 47-23 bulge at halftime.
Pingree was able to win the second half, 41-34, and did get to within ten points (72-62) with two minutes left. However, BCD sealed this one by making 9-of-10 free throws the rest of the way.
Beaver won the first meeting at Brookline, 71-43. This one didn’t go in that direction because Pingree played the second half with crowd-pleasing intensity.
Down 66-48 with 5 1/2 minutes remaining, the Highlanders’ pressure started to pay off. Remember that the Beavers’ point guard was missing. Also off the floor was shot-blocker Jacquil Taylor (injury).
The Highlanders started to get turnovers and took the ball to the basket. Johnny Spears and Justin Assad were a big part of the 14-6 Pingree rally that cut Pingree’s deficit to ten points and fired up the crowd. BCD coach Juan Figuero burned a couple of timeouts during the Pingree comeback. The Beavers, however, recovered by taking better care of the ball in the two final minutes and Pingree was forced to foul. Outstanding BCD free throw shooting finished off Pingree’s comeback.
Impressive game by Pingree’s Alonzo Jackson. The Highlanders’ big man collected eighteen points on the inside.
Johnny Spears (13 points) showed his lightening speed in the second half on offense. Sometimes he would get to the basket and other times he would spot teammates while he was airborne. Johnny can take games over and Pingree will need that to happen if they are to do very well in the Class C tournament.
Beaver Country will be in the Class B tournament. If they have all of their starters ready to go they could end up winning a title.
BCD’s lone loss was to Hoosac School by two points (54-52) on January 22nd at UMass Boston. I tried to find out how the Owls had pulled that one off. That’s where I got acquainted with a player named, Unique McLean. The sophomore guard from Brooklyn put thirty-two points on Beaver including the game-winner at the buzzer. Coach Figueroa told me before the Pingree game that Unique was the best player he’s seen this season. Hoosac School (on NY/VT border) has won the Class D title two straight years.
Griffin Beal and Kyle Lentini each had ten points for Pingree.
(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)