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Wildcats fall to Co-DCL Small Champ Bedford 60-49

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Senior captain Jared Groff scored his 1,000th career point during Weston’s game against Bedford in the MIAA North Division 3 State Quarterfinals. PHOTO/ Dan Wims

By Matthew Garfinkel

After a hard-eayeought battle the third seeded Wildcats fell to sixth seeded Bedford Friday night 60-49. Despite the shocking loss of this historic team, a highlight of the night was the recognition of senior Jared Groff who reached 1,000 career points during the game.

The wildcats hit the court with abundant energy, won the tip, and were leading most of the first half. The gym was rumbling with the enthusiasm of the biggest crowd Weston basketball had drawn in years.

Weston came out with a 7-1 lead in the first quarter before Bedford came back to tie it up 7-7. The Wildcats finished the quarter on a 13-6 run en route to a 20-13 lead. Bedford freshman phenomenon Malachi Hazelton elevated Bedford as he scored six of his team-high 15 points in the second quarter. This included a pair of free throws to make it 27-25 Bedford at the half. Sophomore Kyle Murphy thought Hazelton’s impact was felt in all places along the floor.

“His 18 rebounds, eight of them off the offensive glass, were really impressive and hard to stop,” Murphy said.

At the end of the second quarter Bedford hit a two-point jumper and made it a 34-30 advantage for Bedford. The Wildcats tied it up at 37-37 early in the third after senior captain Cam Peddie hit a jumper. The third quarter ended with Bedford on an 8-1 run by senior captain Tim Cowen off a shot fake to lead 45-38.

By the start of the fourth, Bedford was up 48-38 but the wildcats came back on an 11-4 run to cut the deficit to 52-49 on a pair of clutch free throws by sophomore Kyle Murphy with 1:51 to go.

Looking to stop the clock, Weston sent Bedford to the free throw line 10 times where Bedford netted 8 and didn’t allow another Wildcat basket.

“We played well defensively but had a lot of trouble scoring and needed to work the ball  more than we did,” head coach David First said. “We had several players in foul trouble…. A few more made free throws and one or two shots falling for us and we would be playing in the next round with a great chance to win it all. The difference between winning and losing is sometimes a play or two like finishing a lay-up or hustling down the floor.”

First is already looking ahead and is confident the team will be back in it for next year’s tournament.

“Weston basketball is going to continue to be strong. We have a talented group of sophomores coming back- several of whom were on the floor [Friday]. It is tempting to take the enticing leap of two years to when they are all seniors, but don’t count these motivated players out for next year,” First said.

Junior Noah Cate who will be the sole senior on the 2018 squad and the rest of the team have already begun working for next year.

“This year’s seniors did not have the benefit of playing in games like Friday night or having crowds like what we’ve had and didn’t get to play at this high a level when they were underclassmen. That’s their gift to the sophomores,” First said.

Senior captains Jared Groff, Cam Peddie and Doug Dahl showed amazing stamina this season, leading the team to its highest level of play yet. This will set the returning young team on a competitive path for next year, First said.

“If they did their job, the younger guys will end up being better than they were and when they come back from college and see them play, they will be cheering them on and  know they helped create that,” First said

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Wildcats fall to Co-DCL Small Champ Bedford 60-49