Mahar wins by forfeit

  • Daesean Watson, of Mahar, dribbles in a game against Ayer on Tuesday. for the athol daily news/mike phillips

  • Mahar’s Noaha Chabot (12) begins to take the ball into the paint during Tuesday’s game against Ayer in the Monty Tech summer basketball league in Fitchburg. Athol Daily News/Mike Phillips—

Sports Writer
Published: 7/10/2018 10:54:33 PM

FITCHBURG — With only three players, the Ayer boys summer basketball team had to forfeit its match against Mahar on Tuesday. After tacking on one player and the team’s coach electing to play, the game’s outcome still didn’t change, as Mahar defeated Ayer 71-51 in the Monty Tech summer basketball league.

The win improved Mahar to 4-3 and improved its pursuit of the playoffs. The team remains only one game behind the fourth and final playoff spot and has four games left on the schedule. The loss eliminates Ayer, falling to 0-7 and five games behind fourth place with only four games left in the summer season.

“We just want to win the next game,” said Mahar summer coach Enver Softic. “If we have some easy games ahead of us, I think we have to make a statement, not by winning those games, but by giving someone a spanking. You don’t want to play down to the other team’s level and I think a young team tends to do that. We have to learn to play at the same level, game in and game out.”

Mahar will face three teams with less than a .500 winning percentage the rest of the season in Athol (1-6), Notre Dame (2-4 as of Mahar’s game), Monty Tech (2-4 as of Mahar’s game). The team will face the current fourth-seeded North Middlesex (5-1 as of Mahar’s game) in its final game of the season.

Against Ayer, Mahar spread the floor nicely with all eight players contributing points. Matt Lyesiuk led the team with 18 points, while Devin Patch contributed 15 points.

“We were able to move the ball around a lot tonight,” said Lyesiuk. “I had a lot of help getting open and getting open shots.”

Softic likes how his team distributed the ball, but felt they could have played better, despite winning by 20 points.

“I think they did a pretty good job overall in staying focused, but I think that they can play a lot better,” said Softic.

Mahar was able to use its size to its advantage against Ayer, which allowed Watson to net a summer season high 10-points for himself. He muscled his way underneath the hoop on multiple occasions, most notably in the first half when he twisted and turned both ways around the defender and got the basket from underneath the hoop to put his team up 20-10. He then netted a no-look hooked shot with 17:10 to go in the second half to put his team up 38-23.

Watson’s presence underneath the hoop and Lyesiuk’s three-point shooting (five threes, one jumper) created a combination interior presence with a threat to shoot outside that Mahar must replace after graduating players such as Matt Jenks and Brennan Mailloux, who could both rebound and play underneath the hoop well, and Sam Paul, who could shoot the 3-ball well.

“We have to have a nice combination of outside shooting, strong drive to the hoop and blend them together,” said Softic. “Then all of a sudden, defensively, teams have a hard time controlling us.”

Mahar led by 10 going into half, up 31-21. They stretched their lead to 20 with an 11-0 run within the first five minutes of the second half. A three by Patch gave Mahar the 45-25 lead. Ayer wouldn’t get any closer than 16 points the rest of the game.

Mahar will finish its week with a game against its long-time rivals, Athol, on Thursday at 6 p.m.

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