Boys Basketball Captures NEPSAC Glory

 

The boys varsity basketball team defeated Hotchkiss 84-79 on Sunday, March 8, to win the Class A New England prep school title for the first time under head coach Rock Battistoni.

To reach the championship game, held at Western New England University, the Pelicans defeated Noble and Greenough 57-25 in the quarterfinals on Wednesday and Trinity Pawling 79-74 in the semifinals on Saturday.

Hotchkiss was a familiar opponent for the Pelicans, who had faced the Bearcats in a regular-season game only eight days earlier. Loomis won that previous contest 82-75 to capture the Founders League title and earn the top seed in the Class A tournament.

In the tournament finals, Loomis Chaffee came out strong and took an early lead, but Hotchkiss battled back several times to make the game close. The Pelicans made a charge in the second half, sparked by junior Nate Santos and senior Josh Menard, who hit timely three-pointers, giving the Pelicans an eight-point lead with six minutes left in the game.

Over the next two minutes, though, Hotchkiss made a late push of its own, shrinking the Loomis lead to a single point (72-71). Instead of panicking the Pelicans settled in and drew some fouls, allowing themselves a couple of free buckets, and when the final buzzer rang to end the game, Loomis took home the championship with a five-point victory.

Statistically, the Pelicans were led by senior R.J. Blakney, who scored 34 points and had six rebounds; Nate Santos, who had 20 points, five rebounds, and three assists; and Josh Menard, who posted 16 points, seven rebounds, and six assists. Blakney was named Most Valuable Player of the Class A tournament.