CLINTON — Clinton, with a resounding 64-41 victory over Leominster, captured the recent Central Mass boys’ basketball league championship.
Using a stifling defense and a 31-point night from Jayden Ogando, the number two seeded Gaels beat Leominster en route to the title, finishing the league with a 4-1 record.
LJ Boisoneau added eight scorers in the championship game.
“It was a great (championship) win for us and a great group of kids to work with,” Clinton coach Tom Flanagan said. “Leominster are a good team who have athletic players, and they are well trained.”
“Their advantage was size and ours was the backcourt,” he said. “We took advantage of it with Jay (Ogando) in the lead.”
Ogando, who will be entering seventh grade this school year, had 29 points at halftime.
“He (Ogando) is only entering seventh grade and is a special player,” Flanagan said. “He plays both point guard and number two guard, and sees the ground so well. He can hit the 3 (pointer) and drive the ball to the ground, and can drive to the hoop.
“He works on his game at least six days a week, most of the year, and is dedicated to sports,” he said. “He loves the game and has great potential.”
After finishing pool play with a 2-1 record, the Gaels faced Lunenburg in the semi-finals and took a 64-35 decision on their own.
Clinton was led by Grady Frisch and Ogando, who scored 14 and 13 points respectively.
“This (Lunenburg) was an all-defensive game,” Flanagan said. “We have kids who buy into the defense and that can make a big difference.
“Grady Frisch, Marshall Zancewic and Jay Ogando played really well defensively,” he said. “Lunenburg had really good guards, but we were able to slow them down.
“Our guard game was one of the best in the league,” Flanagan added. “Our defense generated the offense in this game. We took a ten point lead with a lot of interceptions and layups.
“We just got consistent attacking play from everyone,” he said. “All the kids peaked at the right time and were in basketball mode.”
During the summer season, Clinton relied on a balanced score.
“Jayden (Ogando), Grady Frisch, Marshal Zancewicz, Owen (Flanagan) and Braydan Huban were our top scorers,” said Tom Flanagan. “Every game a different kid scored 12 or 14 points.
“These kids have been together since fourth grade and they’ve learned to share the ball,” he said. “It was a great league this year and I think all the youngsters have improved. It was very competitive, and I think the kids enjoyed it a lot.
In addition to Clinton, Lunenburg, and Leominster, the other teams in the league were Advanced Math and Science Academy (AMSA), Sterling, Fitchburg, Tahanto, and Quabbin.
The league began July 11 and continued for five weeks, with all games played at Clinton Middle School.
The highly competitive league was started three years ago by Clinton High School freshman/junior varsity 2 coach Matt Kobus, who serves as the league’s president.
“It was another awesome league this summer,” Kobus said. “We grew to eight teams this year, and it was just incoming seventh and eighth graders.
“With eight teams this year, we made two divisions of four teams each,” he said. “We called one division the Bird Division (after Celtic great Larry Bird) and the other division the Russell Division after (Celtic great) Bill Russell to honor both players.
“We played pool for the first three weeks and then the playoffs started,” Kobus added. “We had feedback from all the teams and everything was positive.
“There’s been so much growth in players across all teams over that five-week period,” he said. “Any time Fitchburg and Leominster are involved in the league it gives it weight. It was a fun league.
“The coaches – Tom Flanagan, John Boisoneau, Brian Zancewicz and Chris Lunn – were all great people and coaches, and it was a great experience overall,” added Kobus.
Kobus singled out former South Lancaster Academy coach Dave Cady for his contribution to league success.
“Dave Cady is a phenomenal guy,” Kobus said. “He assigned all the officials and we were able to have two officials for each match. He took care of all that for us, and it was huge.
Emotionz Graphix & Apparel designed the T-shirts.