Fitchburg Rallies for Impressive Win Over Nashoba
FITCHBURG -- This one must have been sweet.
For seven years, Danny Ortiz was the head coach of a Nashoba Regional boys’ basketball team that went to the postseason year after year and even made it as far as the state final.
On Thursday night, the first-year Fitchburg High head coach knocked his former team out of playoff contention, and in doing so got his biggest win with the Red Raiders, as the hosts overcame a 15-point deficit in the third quarter to earn a thrilling 46-43 Mid-Wach B league victory over the Chieftains.
“Like I told the boys in the locker room, we have been waiting all year to beat a good team,” Ortiz said. “They are a quality team that is well-coached. I am proud of these boys for beating a quality opponent, because I think this is the basketball that we have been capable of playing all year long.”
With the win, Fitchburg ran its record to 4-13 overall and 2-5 in league play, while Nashoba fell to 7-10 overall and 2-5 in Mid-Wach B action.
“We turned it over too much and didn’t hit free throws,” said Nashoba head coach Bryan Riley. “You have to give Fitchburg credit because they deserved to win the game tonight.”
After consecutive baskets by John Duros (20 points, 2 of 4 from behind the arc) and Mitch Scanlon (12 points), Nashoba found itself with a 28-13 lead with 4:30 left in the third quarter. Over the final three minutes of the quarter, however, Fitchburg’s Bryan Beltre (15 points, 3 of 6 from behind the arc) drained a trio of 3-pointers as the Red Raiders closed the quarter on a 17-7 run to trail by just five, 35-30, heading into the final eight minutes.
“We just talked about playing one possession at a time and staying focused at what we trying to do,” Ortiz said about the comeback. “We thought that we could do a pretty good job pushing the ball up the floor. We were doing it early and that was a credit to their defense, but our shots started to fall.”
Fitchburg got its first lead of the night when Jorge Gaitan (9 points, 3 of 4 from behind the arc) canned a shot from 3-point land to give the Red Raiders a 40-38 advantage.
Following a layup from Cairo Jimenez (12 points, 2 of 3 from behind the arc) with 30 seconds left, Nashoba missed a pair of treys down the stretch, including one that Scanlon fired up at the buzzer.
In the opening half, the Chieftains started out hot as they went on an 8-0 run to open the game and held a 10-4 lead after one quarter. Duros scored 12 points in the opening half to help his team go into the locker room with a 19-12 lead.