Shehadi's 28 keeps BBA unbeaten

MANCHESTER -- Even though they didn't guard each other, Burr and Burton Academy junior Joey Shehadi and Rutland senior Pat O'Rourke were basically in a individual battle.

Shehadi would make a three, then O'Rourke would come down and do the same on the next possession.

In the end, Shehadi won the battle and his team won the game, 66-54, as BBA remained unbeaten at 13-0.

"The kid can play, he loves it and he puts the work in," said BBA coach Dave Shehadi. "Just like O'Rourke who was fabulous, Joey's our guy and he's a handful."

Shehadi scored a game-high 28, including 16 in the second half, while O'Rourke had 26 to lead the Raiders.

"It was a hell of a game and we came out firing," Joey Shehadi said. "It's such a great rivalry, this is the first time we've beat them [in years], we had nothing to lose, we came to play and the intensity was there."

Ahead by 10 at the half, Rutland started to chip away into the Bulldogs' advantage, pulling to 42-35 after O'Rourke scored on a three-point play. Two more empty trips for BBA opened the door for O'Rourke again, who hit a jumper with 1:47 left in the third to make it 44-40.

But Shehadi quelled the flow, knocking home a three from the wing after some nice ball movement from his teammates, then he hit a two with 35 seconds left in the third to make it 49-40.

On the next possession, Rutland was called for a charge as Cody Gilbert stood his ground and forced a turnover to give BBA the momentum back heading into the fourth.

"We countered the run, we were making some shots and getting stops at the other end," Joey Shehadi said. "We did a good job of rebounding and keeping them off the boards."

In the fourth, Shehadi kept the run going, hitting another two and then another three with the capacity crowd roaring to push the lead to 14 and force Rutland to take a timeout.

"It was loud in there, wasn't it?" coach Shehadi said. "Home court advantage is great -- you don't ride a bus, the crowd is behind you, shooting at rims you know."

A 6-0 run by the Raiders quieted the crowd as they pulled back to within single digits, but smart ball movement in breaking Rutland's press let BBA keep a sizable advantage.

"We work on breaking the press, we know where the spots are to break it," Joey Shehadi said. "We got some easy buckets at the end there with that, it helped us extend the lead to 10 and keep it there."

While the high-scorer, Shehadi wasn't the only BBA player to have a major effect. Tyeshawn Gadson added 13 points, while Conor Harrington pitched in with 9.

"Ty played well and Taylor [Muench] rebounded the best he has all season," coach Shehadi said. "Conor is a force in the middle, Ryan is solid, unselfish, they have to play well to get where we are."

BBA has two more Division I games next week, against Mount Anthony on Monday and Brattleboro on Friday.

"We're halfway through our D-I stretch," Joey Shehadi said. "We have to keep working hard. Being 13-0 is great but its just another accolade."


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