Pirates push by Auburn in district opener
By Shaun Moriarty
Citizen Chronicle Writer
AUBURN — Nobody told the Oxford Pirates they were not supposed to be picking up a win in the boys basketball district tournament.
The eighteenth seed in a field of 18 teams, the Pirates traveled the short ride down Route 20 to Auburn High School for a preliminary round game against the fifteenth-seeded Rockets on Monday night. During the regular season, the series was a split with the home team beating the visitor by a 10-point margin in each game. The third contest between the rivals was more than just a rubber match, it would determine whose season would end and who would be heading to Sutton for another game on Wednesday night.
The game was close throughout in front of a high-energy and boisterous crowd from both schools packed into the Auburn High School gymnasium. At the end of the first quarter, the game knotted up at 11-11. In the second quarter, Auburn had pulled ahead just slightly but was unable to maintain that advantage as the two teams went into the locker room at half time with a 26-26 tie. Jared Perkins went into the half as Oxford’s leading scorer, picking up a dozen points in the first portion of the game. Auburn’s Coleman Picard also had 12 points at half time.
The Pirates came out in the second half with a sense of urgency, rallying to take the lead and started putting a little distance from their hosts, leading 35-30 about halfway through the quarter. Auburn bounced back, however, going on a 14-7 run in the final four minutes to gain a slim 44-42 lead heading into the fourth and final quarter. The game remained tightly contested until the clock had ticked down below three minutes to go. It was at this point that Oxford began to pick up more and more baskets, building steam and pulling away. All the same, the game remained in doubt until the final several seconds of the game when the Pirates were able to close out the victory.
Perkins led Oxford’s offense with 20 points, while teammate Klaytin Silva added 15 points — including 13 in the second half. Mac Owusu chipped in with 11 points. Auburn’s Matty Backlin led all scorers with 21 points, including 17 in the second half, while Picard finished the night with 19 points.
With the win, Oxford advances to the first round of the Central Division III District Tournament. They will play the Sutton Sammies in Sutton at 7 p.m. on Wednesday. The loss, coming off a very positive experience at the Clark Tournament in Worcester, ends Auburn’s season.