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Warriors Hitting Their Stride

Nipmuc Boys Basketball seems to be holding true to the old adage of wanting to peak at the right time. With just a few games left until tournament time, the Warriors are just a single victory away from being postseason bound and are headed back to Clark Tournament.
Coach Jim Grant's team improved to 9-6 with a victory against a Douglas team that had soundly defeated the Warriors earlier in the season. "It was just a huge win for us," Grant said of the 62-53 victory. "We played great team defense against a very good opponent."
Chris Reiffarf led the way for Nipmuc in the Douglas win with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Juniors Joe Mespelli and Nate Bertrand also spearheaded the offense of effort with 13 and 12 points, respectively.
Mespelli and his backcourt mate Kelly Rooney are giving Grant a unit he can really count on. "That combination gives us two guys who can handle the ball and are very good defensive players," he said. "Bertrand is a bit better offensive player and we just need him to come in for a few minutes and hit some shots." Bertrand did just that against Douglas, connecting on four three-pointers.
The victory was an important one, not only for Nipmuc's district tournament hopes, but also for a lineup that has seen some changes recently. With one of the top players on the team having left for disciplinary reasons, Grant has shuffled the starting five, inserting Kyle Bishop as the center and moving Darren Moore to power forward. The result has been a team that is stronger on the boards and plays well defensively. "If we can score some points, this is a good lineup," said Grant.
Nipmuc has had its nights recently where the shots have not fallen. Against Northbridge, the Warriors shot just 1-18 in the third quarter and still only lost by 13. They had a similar lapse in a loss the first time they played Douglas. "We just shot the ball horribly," Grant said of the two losses. "If you can hang around a good team and shoot so poorly, what can you do when you are getting the ball to go in?"
The answer came last Monday in the win over Douglas. Grant would like to see more of that consistency going forward. "Certain things we can control like intensity, intelligence, how we run the offense, and getting good shots. We have played better defense, we just need to avoid lapses. As for the rest of the game, I like how we are playing."




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