Rams’ Victory Barely Rims Out Against Green Wave (Highlights included!)

Steven Fudenna, Staff Writer

Hot off of a 13 point victory at Glen Ridge, the OP varsity basketball squad looked to add on another victory Tuesday night vs. long-time non-public rival Delbarton. Expectations for this game were incredibly high, as the two teams seemed to be equally challenging opponents for each other. Delbarton lost a nail-biter to Summit by one-point earlier in the season; a squad that Oratory had narrowly defeated earlier in the season, and lost to in their second matchup. The Rams had prepared heavily for this game with Coach Daugherty going over film and tactics thoroughly with the team. With the bleachers overflowing to the point where a second section for the students had to be created, a radical atmosphere illuminated the Farrell Gym, anticipating the tip-off of the tumultuous duel.


The Green Wave made a statement early, knocking down 2 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to give Delbarton a 6-0 lead to begin the game. Conversion of 3-pointers would be the story of Delbarton for the night, as they went 8-20 from beyond the arc. However, this early pressure from the Green Wave did not rattle the Rams, nor the Rowdies backing them up. Senior Co-Captain Peter Byrne, who has been leading OP in scoring this season, granted the Rams their first points of the coming, knocking down a long mid-range shot coming off a screen from Junior, Lucas Pavlounis. With energy surging through the gym, the Rowdies rallied behind the squad and caused chaos in the bleachers, disrupting Delbarton’s rhythm and causing them to force several clumsy turnovers in the first quarter. This allowed Byrne to convert a fast-break layup, and fellow Senior Co-Captain Declan McKee to sink his first points of the game, tying it at 6 apiece. Unfortunately, Rohin Bobba of Delbarton connected on 3 3-pointers in the first quarter, giving Delbarton a 17-9 lead after 8 minutes of play.


Sophomore Tommy Conniff started the scoring for the Rams in the second quarter, converting on a short jumper for his first points of the game. Unfortunately, Bobba returned with another 3 pointer, giving Delbarton a 9 point lead. A string of skillful layups by Freshman Mike Pirone sparked the Oratory offense midway through the second quarter, with Conniff subsequently scoring his second bucket. Shortly after, Byrne connected on a shot way behind the arc, cutting the Rams’ deficit to 4. To close the quarter, Oratory’s defense stood tall against a minute long possession from the green wave, culminating in a missed shot by Delbarton to end the half with Delbarton winning 26-24.


The Rams started the second half hot, initiated by a Pavlounis layup off of a zipped pass from McKee. After Bobba connected his 5th 3-pointer of the game, McKee responded with a triple of his own off a pass from Pirone, bringing him to 5 points on the night. Going back and forth with scoreless possessions, Byrne broke the scoring drought by hitting his 2nd 3-pointer of the game, bringing the game to 30-33. However, a collection of quick scores from Delbarton, including a tap-in at the buzzer, concluded the 3rd quarter with Oratory losing by 9.


These were no foreign circumstances to the Rams though, as they have displayed repeatedly strong 4th quarter performances throughout the season, and were ready for a comeback with the Rowdies behind them. Byrne commenced the comeback, knocking down his 3rd 3-pointer of the game to bring OP’s deficit to 6. He followed with an acrobatic layup on the next drive, inching OP closer to victory. Consecutive stifling defensive possessions kept Delbarton off the scoreboard and cut the lead to 2 after Pavlounis hit a layup off of a precise entry pass from Conniff. A free throw from Pirone and a layup off of an offensive rebound from Pavlounis gave Oratory their first lead of the game, 41-40 with 4 minutes to play. 2 layups from Delbarton put the Green Wave back ahead by 3, but OP couldn’t seem to find a way to respond. Although Delbarton missed several free throws, OP did the same, and could not seem to find ways to score in the closing minutes of the game. However, on the final possession of the game, Pirone was able to save the ball from going out of bounds by passing it to McKee, who found Byrne open behind the arc. He took a dribble, stepped back, and hoisted up the game-tying shot. But, Byrne’s shot rimmed in and out, breaking the hearts of all OP players and supporters.