The Oyster River boys varsity basketball team looks to be in mid-season form, and they’re just getting started.
Without ever trailing, the Oyster River Bobcats (2-0) defeated the Milford Spartans (1-1) by a score of 60-46, Tuesday, December 18th, in Durham. It was the home opener for ORHS, a game that saw a large amount of fan support. Fans showed their spirit and passion by participating in a “White Out, and Silent Night.” The Bobcats, with state championship aspirations, gave their fans much to cheer for.
On the back of lockdown defense and a combined 53 points from leading scorers Max Lewis (‘19), Kyle Landrigan (‘19), and Joe Morrell (‘20), the Bobcats were able to down Milford, a preseason top-5 ranked team by nhsportspage.com.
From the opening-tip, Oyster River found their way to the basket. A culmination of defensive stops and effective passing led to easy buckets early.
However, the early lead was not applauded by the home crowd. Fans remained silent as a part of the team promoted “White Out, and Silent Night” where fans held their applause until the Bobcats scored their 10th point. The crowd erupted midway through the first quarter, after points ten and eleven came on a layup by Doug MacGowan (‘21), one of his two baskets on the night.
Oyster River fan, Tucker Henry (‘19), spoke about the fan involvement, “I think the planning could have been a little better, but I think it was a cool idea and [our fans] executed it decently.”
On the court, Lewis led the way early, scoring 11 of his 19 points in the first quarter, propelling the Bobcats ahead by a score of 17-12 after one.
The second quarter saw both teams excel on defense. Each team drew charges and worked cohesively to force stops.
Sam Belanger (‘19), although not adding any points to the win, was one of the key contributors to the victory. “Sam Belanger’s defense was the difference maker in this game. This was the second game in a row where he has taken the other team’s best player completely out,” said ORHS head coach, Lorne Lucas.
A patient offense opened up scoring opportunities at the rim for the Bobcats.
“We showed a lot of patience on offense and were able to get the ball where we wanted to,” said Landrigan, who scored eight of his game-high 23 in the second quarter.
The Bobcats held a 27-17 lead heading into the half.
At the start of the third quarter, the sharpshooting Spartans, who put up 71 points in their win last Friday against Manchester West, looked like they were beginning to figure out the Bobcats’ man-to-man defense used by Lucas’ team throughout the first half. Scoring nine of his 19 in the third quarter, Max Fortin (‘19) headed the comeback bid for Milford.
Lucas decided to make a defensive change to combat the attack. “They started to get more comfortable [in man-to-man] so we went right to a zone,” said Assistant Coach, Zach Lewis.
The defensive switch seemed to slow Milford, forcing them to attempt to score from the outside, and a combined 13 points from Lewis, Landrigan, and Kyle Miller (‘20) helped the Bobcats maintain a safe 46-32 lead after three.
The fourth quarter was a back and forth affair, as both teams traded baskets and defensive stops. Both Milford and Oyster River netted 14 points in the quarter.
Morrell, who dealt with early foul trouble in the first half, scored 8 of his 11 points in the period, including a steal that led to a breakaway layup.
The Bobcats closed out a game they never trailed in, by a final score of 60-46.
Coach Lewis spoke after the game. “That was a really good offensive team…and we effectively took them out of their game.”
“Our defense set up our offense all night,” said coach Lucas. A lockdown team defense created numerous scoring opportunities for the scoring trio. “At this point, I feel they’re going to get their points.” The Bobcat trio looks to lead the way for the team all season.
“That’s our core,” said Landrigan of Lewis, Morrell, and himself, who combined for all but seven of the Bobcats points on the night. “[This team] has been playing together for a long time, and the chemistry is great between us so far, and it will continue to build as the season goes on. For us, communication is everything. If we don’t communicate, we have nothing.”
After finishing Runner-Up in the DII State Championship game last season to Hollis-Brookline, the Bobcats are eager to get back to Lundholm Gymnasium for another shot at a championship.
“Defense and rebounding will be the keys to getting back to Lundholm, and we have done very well with that the first two games,” said Lucas of his team.
The Oyster River boys team seems to be firing on all cylinders, and they’re only two games in.
The Bobcats (2-0) play host to Stevens (0-2) on Friday 12/21.
For more on the ORHS boys basketball team, watch Abby Schmitt’s season preview video, and check out MOR for continued news on the team’s season.
All Photos by Owen Tonkin