CUMBERLAND – With a starting lineup comprised entirely of juniors, Cumberland head coach Gary Reedy believes that positive things are in store for his squad this winter.
The first step in the right direction took place Friday night with Cumberland disposing of Johnston, 69-60, in an Injury Fund non-league contest at the Wellness Center. Ben Bradley, one of those aforementioned 11th graders, led all scorers with 24 points while also contributing six rebounds and three steals.
“It’s a good group to start out with. Plus they look for each other,” noted Reedy, who also received contributions from Tom Lazaras (13 points, five steals), Greg Joubert (12 points) and Mitchell Baxter (10 rebounds, seven rebounds). “We have a lot of athletes who play a lot of different sports.”
For Johnston, which figures to be a playoff contender in Division III, Evan Hopson led the way with 20 points.
Wildly inconsistent is the best way to surmise both teams in the opening 16 minutes. Behind an aggressive man-to-man defense that would come back to bite them later in the half, the Clippers held the visitors to a 1-for-10 dry spell from the floor to start the game, the result a 14-3 advantage with nearly six minutes gone by.
The Panthers soon got their act together, scoring 10 straight points to close to within 13-13. Hopson, a burly forward who led Johnston with 11 points at halftime, scored on an aggressive move to knot the game at 17-all.
“They went to zone after starting the game in man,” Reedy said. “We’ve worked on (facing zone) a little bit but it just wasn’t enough.”
With Bradley running the show, Cumberland ended the half on a 14-5 run to grab a 31-22 lead. Bradley wound up with 14 points on five field goals (one 3-pointer) and three free throws.
Another reason for the irregular pace was due to the teams combining for 21 personal fouls, which led to 19 free-throw attempts.
Back-to-back triples from Lazaras put Cumberland up 39-27 early in the second half. The lead remained between 8-10 points with the home team enjoying a 62-54 cushion with 3:07 remaining.
The Clippers, who hope to get injured senior big man Ben Proctor back sometime after Christmas, face Scituate in another non-league contest on Tuesday. League play commences next Friday with a game against defending division champ Central Falls.