GLOUCESTER — The desperation for the Gloucester boys basketball team last night was obvious.
Entering the game at 6-10 on the year, the Fishermen needed a win over Saugus to maintain hopes of ending the regular season at .500 and thereby securing a state tournament berth.
That desperation carried the Fishermen to a lead for the majority of last night’s game. Ultimately, though, Gloucester’s youth and inexperience outweighed its fervor, as a fourth-quarter lead slipped away from the Fishermen.
The Sachems put up 24 points in the final frame and forced countless turnovers with a full-court press and the Fishermen simply couldn’t keep up, falling by a final score of 67-59 to drop to 6-11 on the season.
”Tough loss,” Gloucester coach Bill Cahill said. “They got some big baskets and we didn’t, and we didn’t rebound the ball well down the stretch. We just had a little trouble with their pressure. A little jittery, and we just couldn’t finish the game. Is it frustrating? No, because they’re young and they’re capable of playing good, and Saugus hit some big shots.”
The Fishermen got out to a fast start to the game, thanks largely to the perimeter shooting of senior Austin Davis, who knocked down four first-half 3-pointers to help Gloucester extend its lead to as many as 15 points.
But as Gloucester looked to pull away from the Sachems, they always seemed to have an answer.
More often than not, that answer came in the form of center Shane Ripley, who notched a game-high 24 points and 14 rebounds as he dominated the paint.
Ripley was a matchup nightmare for Gloucester, and the foul trouble Gloucester center Drew Shairs (16 points) got into as a result of guarding Ripley stuck Shairs on the bench and threw the Fishermen out of rhythm.