Time’s running out on Chargers

Time’s running out on Chargers

Blackstone-Millville’s Chris Chico drives past Nipmuc’s Jack Tempesta as he makes his way to the basket during last week’s Dual Valley Conference contest. Chico scored 12 points to help the Chargers post a 63-43 victory and snap a four-game losing streak. (Breeze photos by Kayla Panu)
Boys’ basketball team hopes strong finish results in return to Central Mass. D-III playoffs

BLACKSTONE – After reaching the Central Mass. Division III championship game last season, the Blackstone-Millville Regional boys’ basketball team currently finds itself in danger of missing the playoffs this winter.

The Chargers captured 13 regular-season games last year, but entering Wednesday night’s action, they find themselves with just six victories, including their 63-43 triumph over visiting Dual Valley Conference rival Nipmuc last Wednesday, Jan. 30, that swept the teams’ home-and-away series.

The Chargers started out fast with a 15-1 run before taking a 17-8 lead at the end of the first quarter and a 32-15 advantage at the intermission.

After a halftime ceremony that included the induction of this year’s BMR Athletic Hall of Fame class, the Chargers came out a little slow. Nipmuc outscored BMR, 15-8, in the third quarter to cut its deficit to 10, but the Chargers put the game away in the fourth by scoring 23 points.

Unfortunately for the Chargers, who snapped a four-game losing streak with that victory, they saw their record drop to 5-9 two nights later by suffering their most lopsided loss of the season, an 87-50 defeat on the road to DVC leader Hopedale. But on Monday night, they came back to rout David Prouty in a non-league contest, 67-30.

“We’ve been on a little skid here,” BMR head coach Shannon Ryan said after the win over Nipmuc. “We’re just trying to play better and keep our intensity. I think sometimes we lose that, similar to what happened at the start of the second half (of the Nipmuc game). We’re just trying to play some of our best Charger basketball.”

Nick Donahue, Kyle Lubinsky, Chris Chico, and Herrick Blais are returning seniors from last year’s team and this season’s captains, and Ryan also highlighted a couple of players who played on varsity last season and are back in juniors Jared Ducharme and Noah Laren.

Lubinsky has established himself as one of the top players in the DVC, and the 6-foot-9 center backed that up in last week’s win. He was a menace under the basket, scoring a game-high 30 points, nine in the fourth quarter, and adding 15 rebounds and five blocked shots.

“Kyle always leads the way for us,” Ryan said. “Kyle is 6-foot-9 and we try and punch it into him as much as possible. He gets double-teamed and that kind of stuff, but he’s been our go-to guy, and he demonstrated that today.

The first 15 points for BMR were scored by Donahue, who ended the game with nine points, Blais, and Lubinsky. Chico finished the night with 12 points and junior Wesley Truscotte had seven.

“We’ve been trying to lean on the other seniors,” Ryan added. “Chris Chico has been pretty steady as well.”

In Monday night’s victory over David Prouty, the Chargers played exceptional defense in the opening half, holding their opponent to just three points in the first quarter and five in the second in taking a 34-8 halftime advantage. Donahue scored 16 points, Lubinsky added 10, and Ducharme had eight for BMR.

As far as his team’s bid to return to the playoffs, “it’s a work in progress,” Ryan said. “We’re still trying to get there. We’re not mathematically eliminated. We want to try to see if we can push and make a jump into the postseason. That’s going to be hard to do, but little by little, if we can get there, that will be great.”

The Chargers, who played Douglas on Wednesday night, will host Whitinsville Christian on Friday at 6:30 p.m., before wrapping up their schedule on Wednesday, Feb. 13, with a non-league game at Northbridge.

“We’re trying to win the next game in front of us,” Ryan added. “That’s all you can try to do. We put ourselves in a little bit of a hole, and we’ve had some games that I think we should have maybe competed a little better. We can still qualify (for the playoffs); we just have to go game by game.”

Nipmuc’s Andrew Griswold, left, can’t stop Blackstone-Millville’s Nick Donahue from racing down the court with the ball during last week’s Dual Valley Conference contest. Donahue scored nine points to help the Chargers roll to a 63-43 victory.