Bulldogs punch ticket to semis
"Just to have them behind us a good crowd like that will give you at least five points during a game," said BBA guard Joey Shehadi. "Just the nerves and the pressure and the other team making minor mistakes and it was really, really, really helpful to have such a hugh crowd here and supporting us."
In what was a close game early, the BBA (22-0) boys basketball team dismantled MAU (11-10) to punch their ticket to the Division I semi-finals at UVM's Patrick Gymnasium on Tuesday where they will square off against Mt. Mansfield at 6 p.m. The Bulldogs defeated MAU 64-52 in a game that ended up looking closer than it was throughout.
Friday's quarterfinal matchup got off to a slow start as both teams kept each other off the board for the first couple minutes of the game. It was MAU who drew first blood when Jason Redden connected off a short hook shot from the baseline, but the next possession Joey Shehadi tied it with a jumper from the outside.
After two lead changes - which included a layup by MAU's Sean Brundage off of a nice pass to go up 9-6 - forward Conor Harrington (7 points, 5 blocks) knocked down a 3-pointer to tie the game with a 1:26 left to go in the first quarter.
"Conor came up huge in the middle. He probably had four or five blocks and they were big ones too," said Joey Shehadi when asked about the defensive effort. "And we're going to need that going up north again. So, that presence in the middle and good perimeter defense is what helped."
From there Tyeshawn Gadson and Joey Shehadi took over. Gadson (13 points) hit a three, which was followed up by a steal and layup be Joey Shehadi. At the buzzer it was Gadson again, hitting a 3-pointer from the corner to put BBA up 19-11 going into the second period.
"They had trouble with his perimeter defense. So, he had some picks, he gets to the rim, he had a couple big threes and those are daggers. I just thought his effort was fabulous," said BBA coach Dave Shehadi of Gadson. "He didn't have his best game in the quarterfinal and he responded very well. He defended extremely well. He got us going early. A lot of kids played well tonight."
Gadson also got it done on the other end of the floor as well pulling down six rebounds, getting three steals and two blocks in the win.
"For me, I played a terrible game last game and I owed it to my teammates to come out and play defense. I really didn't have a good defensive game and I'm more of a defensive player than an offensive player," said Gadson. "I just wanted to show how we want to win and we want to go up north. It's all about defense first."
The Bulldogs held MAU to 10 points in the second quarter - eight of which were scored by forward Damon Burgess - and put 13 of their own on the board powered largely by Gadson and Taylor Muench (16 points) who had five points each in the quarter.
Down 32-21 coming into the second half, MAU's Alec Little knocked down a 3-pointer to get things going for the Patriots. But the next possession Joey Shehadi connected from downtown.
A few possessions later, Brundage - who recorded a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds - split the defense, scoring off a finger roll in the lane and picking up the foul to complete the 3-point play to narrow the gap to 38-30.
Despite their efforts, the Patriots were unable to come any closer.
"In the second half we chipped away, but we just couldn't make up that early 10 point deficit," said MAU coach Dan Sleeman.
From there Joey Shehadi and Muench went to work. Joey Shehadi knocked down a three and Muench connected with back to back field goals in the paint as part of a 9-0 run before Brundage was able to stop the bleeding with a 3-pointer from the baseline to make it 47-33.
Joey Shehadi closed out the last four minutes of the third quarter strong, scoring six of the team's eight points in that duration to give the Bulldogs a 55-36 lead going into the final quarter.
"In the quarterfinal he had a third quarter that was similar and [he's a] very focused young man," Dave Shehadi said.
There the Bulldogs slowed the pace early, passing the ball around in the half-court until they found Muench underneath for an easy two to make it 58-36.
Joey Shehadi would be responsible for the last Burr and Burton points scored on the evening - a pair of free throws to make it 64-39 with 3:39 remaining - before exiting the game.
MAU's Carson Cushman led Patriot scorers in the fourth quarter with seven.
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