The Georgetown Royals boys’ basketball fans travelled to Billerica for a Division 4 North semifinal game to flood the stands, outnumbering Austin Prep's white-out support by a two-to-one margin.
The Cougars (16-4) were the top seed, while the Royals (12-11) came into the postseason as the 12th seed, and despite a valiant effort, the Georgetown boys ended up dropping a 69-47 decision.
After losing 99 percent of the team's rebounding and interior scoring from the likes of Hunter Lane and Brendan Willis last year, it looked like a big void to fill, but reaching the sectional Final Four was still a goal for their successors.
Coach Josh Keilty inserted a slew of sophomores to complement the three senior captains – Arlen Winer, Jason Bellefeuille and Stephen MacDonald. They battled through injuries and an early season slump, but ended up 12-6 after the 0-5 start. They went 8-3 down the stretch, and all of them were quality wins. But on Monday, March 2, the glass slipper came off amid an aggressive Austin Prep defense and relentless scoring from junior Lance Altenor.
After spotting the Prep eight points to open up the game, Georgetown surged back to trail by only one, 12-11 after one quarter.
The acoustics of the shiny new Billerica High School facility bounced chants off the walls, making it the loudest venue of the year.
The Cougars made a series of runs, but the Royals answered back partially. However, the Prep’s lead still went from seven to 10 to eventually 20.
The staple of the Georgetown offense – the trey – hit a season low point, because Austin Prep simply ran them off the arc.
As the competition increases in these tournaments, the referees let them play a little more, and so the weaves were pushed out a bit further than normal.
Harrison Lien led the team on offense with 12 points, plus three demonstrative blocks. Lien, one of the many sharpshooters on the squad, had another big night with several triples. But with only four made long distance shots, they had to drive the lane and baseline.
Junior J.T. Murphy, adept at the pull-up jumper, netted nine points. Jack Lucido chipped in with seven, including his Georgetown record 65th three-pointer. Jason Bellefeuille battled leaper Adrian Quezada, and came away with six points and nine rebounds, before fouling out. He left it all on the court.
Matt Torgerson came off the bench to net five late points, as did Quinn Nicholas, who scored the last two buckets. Chris Guyer took it right at the Cougars’ superstar with drives to account for four points and few fouls.
Stephen MacDonald played his last Georgetown game, before starting a career at quarterback at WPI. He had two early on with a nice drive.
The best play of the game was a classic two-on-one fast break ignited by sophomores Lucido and Guyer, although the crowd erupted on a couple of other plays that included Lien beating the shot clock with a shake and shimmy and then a Harden fade away from just beyond the elbow.
Just making the tournament was a great feeling for this young team, but two big wins over highly-touted St. Joseph's Prep and archrival Manchester Essex are tasty gravy that will resonate for years to come.
The team will return their top three scorers next year – Murphy, electric lefty Lien and Lucido.
Chris Guyer, Matt Torgerson and Quinn Nicholas, all sophomores, were in the 2020 rotation, and will certainly jump into expanded roles next winter.
There are also exciting players moving up from JV like launchers Cory Walsh and Colin Martin, ultra quick Dylan Angelopolus and savvy guard Nate Giguere, just to name a few, along with juniors Hunter Curtin and Cam Rooney, who are both capable players.
This small school is set up nicely for a solid run at the Cape Ann League title next year.