Essex defeats Amherst in OFSAA challenge game

 

By Joel Charron

The General Amherst boys basketball team left everything on the floor last Wednesday evening in Essex, but in the end it just wasn’t enough.

The Essex Red Raiders handed Amherst their final loss of the season, thus closing the door on their OFSAA hopes.

“They played hard,” said head coach Dom Silvaggio following the 72-62 loss. “They lost to a good team.

Essex scored the first seven points of the game, putting the Bulldogs in an early deficit, however the Bulldogs battled back and trailed 15-11.

Essex took control of the second frame, outscoring the Bulldogs 19-14 and held a 34-25 edge at halftime.

 

Amherst Mitch Girard is fouled by an Essex defender as he drives towards the basket.

The Bulldogs responded in the third quarter, opening the second halftime on a 7-0 run, however Essex made a surge of their own and maintained a 51-39 lead.

In the fourth, Amherst once used a 9-2 run to come within five points of the Red Raider but the gritty Essex squad held their ground and exploded their own run.

Both teams combined for 44 points in the final frame, with Amherst outscoring Essex 23-21.

Silvaggio noted that the Bulldogs brought the game within arms reach on several occasions but “couldn’t seem to get over the hump.”

“We seems to get to a point where we were five point behind but couldn’t get any closer,” said Silvaggio. “It seemed that we would get there and couldn’t get past them.”

Silvaggio said the problem wasn’t their offense but rather the defense.

“We scored 62 points. That’s usually enough to win ball games,” said Silvaggio. “Tonight our defense let us down.”

Despite the defensive letdown, Silvaggio said he was pleased with his team’s effort, stating that there were junctions in the game where the Bulldogs could have “mailed it in” but choose to fight through it instead.

“In the start of the fourth quarter coach said that we have eight minutes left in our season and we are going to go all out,” said Amherst guard Mike Mallender, who scored 14 of his team high 18 points in the final frame.

‘We got their lead down to six points then a couple crucial turnovers and they hit their free throws. We gave it our all and we almost brought it back.”

Mallender said it’s never easy ending with a loss but he’s proud of his teammates for battling hard all season long against very tough Tier 1 opponents.

“No one on our team gave up. We kept fighting all the way through,” said Mallender.

Assistant coach Stephen Silvaggio said this Bulldogs team was a tough and very coachable squad, stating that several players would play through injuries.

“Not all of them are year round basketball players but they always show up for practice and always give their all,” said Stephen. “They never quit.”

Amherst will be losing several key players because of graduation and will look toward Max Reiner, Todd Girard and Dylan Jaber to carry the torch next year. Silvaggio also noted that Joel Wilson has developed nicely this year and should be a force come next season.

Jeff Masson and Reiner each finished the game with 13 points, Matt Duby poured in eight, Corey Bezaire notched six points and several players finished with four points.

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