HARWICH – The last time the Cape Tech boys varsity basketball team faced Avon, the outcome was one heck of a lopsided loss. When the Crusaders hosted the Panthers on Monday afternoon, they still fell, but this time Avon's margin was much narrower at 49-41, something Cape Tech head coach Brent Warren was pleased about after the game.
“They beat us by like 20 up in their gym two weeks ago, so this is a huge improvement and without my point guard, who's my leading scorer,” Warren said.
Though the absence of Tyjon Barrett, who was out for personal reasons, was felt, his teammates did their best to keep the game competitive without him, surging back from a one-point deficit after the first quarter to outscore the Panthers 11-8 in the second and take a 20-18 lead into the half.
Their scrappy, determined play included blocks on Avon at the net, and Joe Small ensuring Crusaders possession by wrestling the ball from a Panther players hands before passing it to a waiting teammate.
Key contributors for the Crusaders in the first half were Joe Small and Joe Inkly with a pair of nice three-pointers. Austin Walker and Lucas DeSouza were solid at the line. Also adding a three-pointer was Kane DeBarros, while Josh Stephens added two.
Unfortunately, the Crusaders got into a little jam in the third that allowed the visiting Panthers to gain momentum, netting 20 points to Cape Tech's seven in the frame. But the home team wasn't up for another repeat of their last contest with Avon and battled back in the final frame to minimize the damage.
Walker proved instrumental in the fourth with a three-pointer and two good free throws, with DeSouza and Small each adding two, while DeBarros went one-for-two at the line.
“I'm really happy with the way my guys played,” Warren said, adding that three players in particular, Walker, DeBarros, and LJ Lopes, stepped up in big ways throughout the game. Lopes and DeBarros were formidable on defense, while Small, Stephens, and Quintaras “Q” Pigo-Cronin forced several turnovers. Dante Ford also had a key three-pointer in the third for the Crusaders.
Overall, Walker led with 11 points, followed closely by Small with eight, DeSouza with six, Inkly with five, DeBarros with four, Dante Ford with three, and Stephens and Jacobi Costa with two each.
The Crusaders travel to Mashpee today (Jan. 9) for a 6:30 p.m. game and return home Jan. 13 for a 5 p.m. contest against Norfolk Aggie before hosting Upper Cape Tech on Jan. 15 at 6:30 p.m.
Warren is hopeful his team's efforts in practices will continue to pay off.
“They're showing improvement every day,” he said. “And I've got to appreciate their efforts against Avon.”