Special to The Bedford Citizen
The Bedford 8th Grade Boys Travel Basketball team wrapped up its most memorable season this past Sunday at the Mass Premier Courts in Foxboro, losing in the Division 2 Championship game to Walpole 75-62. Bedford finished the regular season with a respectable 7-5 record in the D2W division of the Metro-West Basketball League and entered the playoffs as the #7 seed in the highly competitive North bracket. The Bucs got hot at the right time and went on a tear in the playoffs, beating #10 Framingham 49-38, #2 Medford 52-48, #11 Woburn, 65-57, and #3 Mansfield 51-41, before losing to Walpole in the championship game.
Without question, the most exciting playoff game was the quarterfinal matchup against Woburn on March 5th, played in a packed John Glenn Middle School (JGMS) gymnasium. Bedford was in control most of the game, up by 10 points at the end of the 3rd quarter. The stubborn Woburn team staged a dramatic comeback in the 4th quarter and took a 2-point lead in the game’s waning moments. A Woburn player was fouled with 5 seconds left and sank the first of two free throws, extending their lead to 3. His second shot missed, and Aiden Pompi grabbed the rebound and quickly made an outlet pass to Ryan MacLellan, who dribbled to half court and sank the “Hail Mary” shot before time expired, sending the game into overtime and Bedford fans into pandemonium.
In the extra period, the Bucs executed well offensively and held Woburn to 2 points, coming away with a 65-57 victory. Ryan MacLellan paced the Bucs with 31 points and 8 assists and Jamie Buchannan had 16 points and 15 rebounds.
Highlights of the game were aired on Channel 4 on March 7th (https://boston.cbslocal.com/2019/03/07/buzzer-beater-bedford-8th-grade-basketball-team-woburn/).
The Cinderella season sadly came to an end this past Sunday against a very good Walpole team. The Bucs were down by 1 at the end of the third quarter but Walpole had too many offensive weapons, handing the Bucs the 75-62 loss. Ryan MacLellan led the way for the Bucs with 27 points (including three 3-pointers) and Jamie Buchannan had 19 points and 16 rebounds.
The team’s success was largely attributed to its stingy defense, which limited 4 of its playoff opponents to their lowest offensive outputs of the season. MacLellan and Buchannan were the scoring leaders of the team. Nick Tatarczuk was the unsung hero, always tasked with shutting down the other team’s best offensive player. Team newcomers Eric Miles and Aidan Pompi contributed nicely during the course of the season. Miles hit a huge 3-pointer late in the playoff game against Medford and Pompi played one of his best games against the tough rival Waltham, during the regular season. Guards Tomas Ou and Devan Kaushik were standout members of the “all-glue team”, defending at a high level all season long and coming away with many steals. Forward Chris Puglielli, played his best game of the season against a tall Framingham team, limiting their scoring and rebounding.
Other key members of the team included first-year player Andrew Blunt, Richie Fedele, and Ryan Cohen. Blunt knocked down three 3-pointers in the Mansfield playoff game, critical to the win. Fedele was the team’s most versatile player, mastering multiple positions during the course of the season and hitting two key 3-pointers in the wild Woburn game. Cohen, known for his shooting prowess, erupted for 14 points (including four 3-pointers) in the regular season finale against Sudbury.
The team, which has largely been together over the last 5 years, worked hard, competed, and defeated a number of more talented teams across Division 1 and 2 in the Metro West League over the years. Their hard work and determination should serve them well as they move to high school next year.