BOYS BASKETBALL: Old Rochester (12-0) closing in on another South Coast Conference title
The defending state champion Old Rochester Regional Bulldogs find themselves in a familiar position entering the final month of the season.
By Adam Ellis
Posted Jan. 27, 2016 at 5:38 AM
Updated Jan 27, 2016 at 5:42 AM
MATTAPOISETT – The defending state champion Old Rochester Regional Bulldogs find themselves in a familiar position entering the final month of the season.
After 12 contests – each played inside the South Coast Conference – the ORR boys basketball team remains unblemished. The Bulldogs flawless mark is the best in Division 3 South by a half-game over Rockland (12-1), and two games better than Apponequet (9-2, 8-2) and Bourne (11-2, 9-2 SCC) inside the conference.
Old Rochester finished a season sweep of the Canalmen with a 67-61 home win this past Friday. The Bulldogs also ran rampant over Case, 74-54, collecting their 28th consecutive SCC win on Tuesday – the team’s 37th victory in its previous 38 league contests.
Ever one to keep his eye on the prize, Carvalho pointed towards a pivotal matchup looming in Lakeville this Friday night (Jan. 29). Apponequet has won six straight games following a Bulldog blowout (61-38) on Dec. 28.
“By no means is this over,” Coach Steve Carvalho cautioned. “We’ve got [four games] left against some quality opponents. We’ve still gotta go to Apponequet. We’ve still gotta go to D-R. And we also have two ballclubs left – Wareham and [Greater New Bedford] Voke – that can give anyone a run for their money on any given night. So when you look at the bigger picture, in no way are we out of the woods yet.”
ORR pulled out what Carvalho called “a character win” against Bourne, overcoming an 11-point deficit in the second quarter to rally past the visitors.
Shorthanded due to injury, juniors Grant Reuter and Jacob Cafarella got a chance to shine as starters for the Bulldogs. Reuter replaced Matt Valles (lower back) at center, while Cafarella stepped in as shooting guard for Jason Gamache (concussion).
After missing Tuesday’s win over Fairhaven, Valles came off the bench, seeing his first action in seven days following a brutal fall in Seekonk. He remained efficient and effective, scoring a team-high 17 points, as his minutes were monitored closely.
“I thought Matty Valles played a real gutsy game,” the coach said.
Valles protected the rim and kept the visitors off guard with a steady diet of mid-range jumpers.
While he did most of his damage away from the basket, Reuter provided a nice inside-out combo. With the game tied at 48, Reuter single-handedly tossed the team on his back, spurning a 10-0 run in the fourth with three crucial baskets inside the paint.
“Grant Reuter gave us some great points when we needed them,” Carvalho said. “He’s working on being a true post player and, with what was at stake, this was his biggest moment. This is Grant’s first high school season and he’s only going to get better.”Cafarella, who has been coming on strong, also had his finest performance of the season. The reserve guard scored 14 points, going 4-for-5 from the field and knocking down a pair of trifectas. He also splashed all four free throw attempts in the closing minutes.
“Cafarella gave us some big moments tonight,” Carvalho said. “He certainly played great defense. He’s a true point guard and he got his hands in the passing lanes all night.”
“This was the biggest game of his career,” the coach added. “He was another ball-handler for us and was the glue for our defense.”
Asked if he’d spend the weekend on Cloud Nine, Cafarella’s father interrupted with a jovial laugh, explaining he’d be in the driveway with a shovel cleaning up the remnants of Winter Storm Jonas. The youngster laughed and said: “Yeah, but I’ll have smile on my face doing it!”
“This is definitely going to give me a lot of confidence moving forward,” said Cafarella, who drew high praise from Bourne Coach Scott Ashworth. “In the beginning of the year, I was really struggling. But my captains [Evan and Will Santos] have been awesome. They told me to keep my head up and keep playing hard. And lately, I’ve been able to turn the corner.”
Old Rochester has now won 19 consecutive contests – a streak that dates back to February 19, 2015 (345 days).
With four league games left, the Bulldogs maintain a two-game lead in the conference, holding the tiebreakers over each of the trailing teams. A win over Apponequet, which still has two games with Bourne remaining (Feb. 9 and 23), would place ORR on the doorstep of a second straight SCC title.
“Our destiny is in our hands,” Carvalho said. “We’re very proud of where we are and what these boys have been able to accomplish over the first 12 games.”
They may not be out of the woods yet, but it’s become evident that Old Rochester is starting to see the forest for the trees.
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