The Bedford Buccaneers are one of the hottest boys’ basketball programs in the state.
Since falling to Millbury on Dec. 17, the team is 11-1 and has swept every Dual County League foe. (A loss at Mansfield in late December was a MIAA “endowment game,” and as such did not count on either team’s record.)
The latest victory was Friday night, 59-43 over Concord-Carlisle. And once again defense was the key. Oh, and 16 of 17 from the free-throw line helped as well.
Bedford didn’t shoot all that well from its home floor – 18 out of 44 is a hair over 40 percent. But the Bucs only trailed by two, 24-22, at the break.
Junior Justin Liberman missed all six of his three-point attempts in the first half. But when he bagged two in a row to start the third quarter, it set the tone for the rest of the game. Bedford suddenly led 28-24, and never trailed again.
Indeed, when junior Co-Captain Justice Buchannan picked up his fourth personal with almost five minutes to go in the third, the lead was still four. Fast-forward to the end of the period when Ryan Cohen’s putback at the buzzer gave Bedford a 39-26 advantage that turned out to be insurmountable. With Buchannan on the bench, the Bucs outscored C-C, 9-0. And the overall third-quarter edge was 17-2.
“These guys understand that if they want to give themselves a chance to win, they have to defend,” said Head Coach Anthony Halls. “We try to focus on the defensive end of the floor first. If you play hard-nosed defense, you can manufacture some points.”
In practice sessions, he continued, “We spend a lot of time doing different things defensively, so in a game it’s not a surprise we can pivot to the situation.”
Junior Co-Captain Camdyn Shoesmith registered another double-double for the Bucs vs. Concord. Half of his 16 points were from the line. Shoesmith had 12 rebounds, as did senior Jamie Buchannan. Ten of their combined total points were from offensive rebounds as the Bucs dominated the boards, 40-23.
Justice Buchannan had 13 points, going six-for-six from the foul line in the fourth quarter. Liberman scored nine and Eric Miles had eight plus seven rebounds.
“We’re not relying on just one particular guy,” the coach said.
The Bucs, now 12-3, travel to Newton South on Tuesday for a 7 p.m. game, then don’t play again until Monday, Feb. 13 when Wayland comes to town for the final regular-season home contest. After visiting Leominster on Feb. 16, Bedford will participate in a two-day tournament in Marblehead, playing the host on Feb. 19 and either Bishop Fenwick or Gloucester the following day.
“Forget their records – it’s all about the style of play,” Halls said. “If you have the right matchup for your team, you can compete.”