Athol musters only four players, forfeits game to Pioneer

  • Athol’s Brymere Edwards reigns in the ball and cuts to the hoop during Tuesday’s game against Pioneer in the Monty Tech summer basketball league in Fitchburg. Athol Daily News/Mike Phillips—

  • Athol’s Brymere Edwards throws the ball upwards after getting fouled during Tuesday’s game against Pioneer in the Monty Tech summer basketball league in Fitchburg. Athol Daily News/Mike Phillips

Sports Writer
Published: 7/10/2018 10:55:16 PM

FITCHBURG — After the previous game between Mahar and Ayer ended in a forfeit due to lack of players, the Athol boys summer basketball team suffered the same fate, forfeiting to Pioneer after having only four players for the start of Tuesday’s game.

Athol was able to pick up two players ready to play however, which did allow the two teams to face-off. Still, Pioneer defeated Athol 64-40 in the Monty Tech summer basketball league.

“I don’t think how many (players) we have matters,” said Athol coach Nate Fisher. “It’s a matter of, winning is an attitude just as losing is an attitude. I think one time these guys had a winning attitudes and it’s getting that out of them. The numbers don’t matter, it’s if I’ve got 10 or I’ve got eight (players), if they come here thinking they’re going to win, they’re probably going to win.”

That line of thinking amongst the players aside, Athol has a 1-6 record during the summer basketball season. To qualify for the playoffs, the team will have to win its remaining four games. They will face long-time rivaled Mahar (4-3) on Thursday, but also face undefeated and first-place Leominster on along the way.

Pioneer also moved to 6-1 with the win and needs just one more to secure a spot in the four-team playoffs.

“(Pioneer) is a shooting team,” said Fisher. “Once we knew that, knowing that I’ve got one guy on the bench, Bryce (King) gets hurt (mid-way through the second), it’s hard to keep up against that. I can run a zone against them and shut them down if I have a full team. Didn’t have that luxury tonight, so it’s a matter of focusing on man-to-man and working together, which I thought we did pretty well.”

King went down during the second-half after clanking knees with a Pioneer defender. He did return during though.

Athol was able to get the best out of Brymere Edwards as he netted a team-high 18 points. It marks back-to-back games where Edwards has scored a team-high for Athol.

“Brymere, it’s all in his head,” said Fisher. “He just needs to know what he does well and what he doesn’t do so well. Today, I got through to him and said ‘this is your spot, this is what you do well.’ All those things will come together when he notices that in the game, which he did today.”

Nicholas Bousquet made his return to the basketball court on Tuesday. Bousquet had sat out the varsity season due to a leg injury, but returned for the varsity baseball season. He contributed 12 points in his return.

“Nick, I coached for awhile at the middle school,” said Fisher. “He’s coming back from an injury, so I can tell you, he’s probably upset with his performance tonight, but the more he gets more acclimated to playing basketball again, the better he’s going to be.”

Athol started off with an 8-5 lead, but quickly surrendered it with 13:51 left in the first half. Pioneer generated an 11-0 run during that time to go up 16-8 and held the lead for the remainder of the game.

Athol came as close as five points multiple times in the first half, but went down 36-17 going into half-time. Pioneer stretched its lead to 27 with 6:36 left in the second-half, up 59-32. Athol was able to close the gap to 20 at 59-39, but could not get any closer.

Athol will wrap up its week on Thursday against Mahar at 6 p.m.

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