Despite falling short of a victory, the fans of Oyster River still had something to cheer about on Friday night.
The Bobcats couldn’t get the job done, and lost their 2nd straight game to Pelham with a final score of 74-51. However, with under a minute to go in the third quarter, Oyster River’s captain Joe Morrell (‘20) scored his 1,000th point on a free throw, a milestone only a few Bobcats have ever achieved. The last was Sara Messler (‘16).
“It was a really cool moment, to have all of my friends and family here, the crowd was really loud, and I think that’s a really special moment to have,” said Morrell, who finished the game with 15 points.
“The energy in the fan section was electric […] that was definitely one of the loudest experiences I’ve had watching games,” said Superfan Jacob Fradilada.
However, the student section didn’t have a lot to cheer about until the moment in the third quarter. Following a somewhat even first quarter, the Pythons put up 20 points in the second to take a commanding 32-16 lead going into halftime. “There was a stretch right there in the second quarter where I think we got away from really what the game plan was. I think it ultimately ended up killing us at the end,” said Oyster River guard Ben Mattioni (‘21).
The offense wasn’t clicking for the Bobcats in the first half. “On offense we were not patient enough. We were taking bad shots and we needed to slow down and move the ball around more,” said Oyster River guard Wolfe Ramsay (‘21).
In the third quarter, Oyster River came out much stronger, and started to build some momentum. In the final minute of the quarter, Morrell was fouled while completing a layup to bring himself to the free throw line, just one point away from achieving the milestone. With the entire student section on their feet, Morrell sank the free throw, causing the entire gym to erupt. The game paused to allow Morrell’s teammates and coaches to congratulate him. Oyster River’s Athletic Director Andy Lathrop announced the achievement and awarded Morrell his 1,000 point plaque.
The Bobcats hoped that this would give them a momentum boost going into the last quarter of the game. Ramsay made three straight three-point shots in the fourth, keeping Oyster River’s hope alive. Ramsay finished with 11 points. However, the Pythons eliminated these hopes, putting up 26 in the fourth, led by Jake Dumont, who finished the game with 23 points. The Bobcats only scored 19 in the final quarter.
Going into the game, Morrell felt tense knowing how close he was to the accomplishment. “It was definitely an impact coming into the game. I was definitely forcing some stuff and trying to get shots that I probably wouldn’t normally take,” said Morrell. After only two points made on free throws in the first half, Morrell and the rest of the Bobcats settled down in the second half, and produced a lot more on offense. Morrell scored 11 of his 15 points in the third quarter.
Now that he’s achieved 1,000 points, Morrell is finally able to relax a little more. “I was really glad to get it but I’m also really glad that it’s over. When you’re so close you know you’re gonna get it, it’s just about getting over it,” said Morrell.
Following a 69-52 loss at Milford on Tuesday night, the game marked the team’s second loss of the season, making their record 2-2. “We know that we’re a lot better team than we’ve been playing this week and we know that we can hang right with [Pelham] if we play like we know we can play,” said Morrell. “There’s no going back, there’s nothing we can do, but I think if we keep focusing on the future we can get something to go our way,” said Mattioni.
Oyster River looks to bounce back on Tuesday night, when they travel to Pembroke High School at 7 PM, where they will face the only team that was able to beat them in the regular season last year.
Written by Alden Swiesz
Photos by Kaila Lambiasi