Kirkland powers Spartans past Red Raiders
ASHBURNHAM– Jaylen Kirkland put 17 of his game-high 26 points in a raucous 2nd quarter to offer Oakmont Regional required separation en route to the Spartans downing checking out Fitchburg, 76-53, Monday night.
The 2 groups will fulfill at the Doug Grutchfield Field House Thursday night.
Second-year Oakmont coach Danny Ortiz was pleased with his group’s efficiency.
” We had fun with a lot of intensity tonight,” Ortiz said. “We have a great deal of returning men who have remained in our system for a year. I was proud of the way we played; we played hard. I do not think ball game dictates the game; that’s not a bad group there. We’re going to have our hands complete when we decrease there Thursday, for sure.”
Second-year Fitchburg coach James McCall kept in mind turnovers– 35 of them to Oakmont’s 14– obstructed the Raiders’ capability to hang with the Central Mass. Division 3 quarterfinalists from March.
” Oakmont is an extremely, great group, and a very, extremely well coached team. Danny has them well disciplined and they make rare mistakes. I informed the kids from the jump, ‘We will win this game if we don’t turn the ball over, and we do things we were taught in practice.’ That press they tossed on us, it rattled us,” he said.
Oakmont and Fitchburg traded baskets early on, with Sam Faulkner’s hoop off a Darnell Thomas assistant pulling the Red Raiders to within two, 12-10, with just over 2 minutes remaining in the very first stanza.
However baskets by Ryan Hulecki and Quinn Sugar sandwiched around a 3-pointer by Brandan Hulecki put the Spartans ahead, 19-10 at the end of the very first.
That first verse was quite close, as Oakmont required seven FHS turnovers to its 4.
That changed in the 2nd, as the Spartans’ 1-3-1 entered the passing lanes and denied Fitchburg in the very first 4 minutes.
” We were revealing our hand,” McCall discussed. “We were looking where we were passing the ball; we weren’t doing ball fakes, things you are taught.”
But not only that, Oakmont utilized some pretty darn excellent ball motion to separate Kirkland alone behind the arc– and even within.
” He’s been really remarkable up until now, and I’m very proud of that boy,” Ortiz stated. “He’s put in a lot of work, and that’s the outcome of that. Tonight was his night, but he’s not afraid to share the basketball. He’s a complete basketball player.”
Kirkland popped a pair of treys to open the quarter, providing Oakmont a 25-11 lead. He also fed Sugar to make it a 16-point game, prior to scoring off a Fitchburg turnover.
Sugar then developed another take and fed Ryan Hulecki, who drew the hack and included the damage from the totally free throw line to put the Spartans up by 21, 32-11.
Elijah Jeffreys’ 17-footer ended the run at 22-3.
Kirkland then scored the next seven points– off a Ryan Hulecki theft, off an offending rebound, and then a 3-pointer– to make it a 39-13 ballgame.
Oakmont led, 47-24, at the half.
Fitchburg opened the 3rd with Jorge Gaitan (team-high 14 points) popping a number of 3-pointers to accompany a Kenny Marte hoop to pull within 20, but Oakmont scored the next 10.
” Jorge was very excellent,” Ortiz said. “We discussed looking for Jorge, and they discovered a method to get him open.”
Fitchburg sophomore Zion Ayala contributed a remarkable 10 rebounds off the bench in his university launching.
” Our kids are starving,” McCall said. “Zion is going to be a horse. He’s a simple boy, he’s very coachable. He’s going to be excellent. And Elijah Jeffreys came and played some excellent minutes. Anthony Oquendo did, too. We’re going to get much better.”