The boys varsity basketball team defeated Hotchkiss 82-75 on Saturday, February 29, to claim the Founders League title and the No. 1 seed in the Class A New England Prep School Athletic Conference Tournament.
Hotchkiss came into the game undefeated atop the Founders League and Class A, with Loomis Chaffee in second behind them. Making the game even more important, the Pelicans honored their four senior players, Josh Menard, R.J. Blakney, Reece Brown, and Paris Shand; and two senior managers, Manu Crawford and Grace Wolf.
The Pelicans started the game hot, jumping to an 8-2 lead against the Bearcats. Blakney brought the crowd to its feet after an emphatic dunk that helped Loomis build its lead.
Hotchkiss did not back down, though, as some poor shooting by Loomis and pressure from Hotchkiss closed the gap. Loomis saw its lead dwindle and then disappear partway through the first half, with the home team trailing by as much as seven points.
But Shand stepped up and put in some big minutes that helped the Pelicans retake the lead, and they headed into halftime up by a point.
In the second half the lead swung back and forth as no team could take a demonstrative lead. The Pelicans mounted an 11-point lead midway through the half but could not sustain it as Hotchkiss went on a run that shrunk the Loomis lead to four.
Loomis pulled away from the Bearcats near the end of the game with junior Nate Santos hitting a few big shots. Menard had a huge second half that carried the Pelicans, as he ran the offense and continued to talk on defense.
Four of the five Pelican starters reached double digits in points. Menard led the team with 25 points and five rebounds, and Santos scored 24 points and added five rebounds.
Up next, the Pelicans take on Noble and Greenough on Wednesday, March 4, at 5:30 p.m. in Olcott Gym in the first round of NEPSAC Class A Tournament action.