By Jeremy Balan
Although Bay School’s season-opening game against Bentley was the first basketball game of the year for any City team, it may end up being one of the season’s most best.
Bay rallied back from an early seven-point deficit and got a standout performance from junior guard Connor Mattoon, but still fell to visiting Bentley 55-51 in overtime on Friday at Letterman Gym.
Mattoon had a game-high 21 points, including 15 in the second half. The slashing guard hit three three-pointers in the fourth quarter, including one to send the game to overtime at 47-47 with :31 seconds remaining in regulation.
“Ever since he’s been a freshman here, he’s been hitting big shots for us,” said Bay head coach Peter Overfelt. “He just stayed focused and played a really great game.”
The game was sloppy at times, indicative of a season-opener, but it was decided at the free throw line.
Both teams shot poorly from the charity stripe (Bay made 4-of-12 and Bentley made 11-of-24), but the impact was especially felt in the overtime period.
After almost single-handedly willing the Breakers (0-1) to tie the game at the end of regulation, Mattoon found himself in the position to be the hero again with 24 seconds remaining in overtime.
Down 52-51, Mattoon was fouled on a driving layup, but he missed both free throws and Bentley made three free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.
“My free throws were just really bad and I missed some clutch ones at the end,” Mattoon said. “I told my team in [the locker room] that I take responsibility for that. This one was on me.”
Bay also struggled shooting from the floor, making just over 30 percent of their shots. The Breakers would often get into solid positions to score, but missed layups and open looks haunted them throughout.
“We probably left 30 points on the floor,” Overfelt said. “Missed layups and free throws make it a tough one to lose.”
Bentley (1-0) was led by sophomore point guard Nate Ellis, who had a team-high 19 points and had to deal with the Breakers denying him the ball throughout the second half.
The Phoenix also got a lift from junior forward Ben Hummel, who scored 10 points in the game, all in the fourth quarter and overtime. Hummel, who played in his first high school basketball against Bay, is considered by many to be one of the most sought soccer prospects in the state.
“You can play well and lose, and feel like a loser, or you can have a tough game like we did today, make some mistakes and work through them and leave with a win,” said Bentley head coach Frank Williams.
While Mattoon carried Bay late, 6-foot-9 center Aubrey Russell was the Breakers’ most consistent offensive threat, scoring 14 points to go along with a team-high 15 rebounds. But at times Russell looked out of sync within the Breakers offense and his influence waned down the stretch.
“He’s a senior and put a lot of work in this summer to get where he’s at,” Overfelt said. “We’re expecting a lot out of Aubrey once league comes around and hopefully that potential gets developed a little bit more.”
Bay will have a chance to quickly bounce back when they face 2009 Academic Athletic Association finalist Wallenberg on Saturday.