Bedford Boys to Face Third Seed in Basketball Round of 16 

March 4, 2024

The 17-3 Bedford High School Buccaneers have established themselves as one of the 16 best Division 2 boys’ basketball teams in Massachusetts.  

And after dispatching pesky Grafton at home on Friday, 53-41, the Bucs are preparing for their biggest challenge of the season: a trip to Springfield on Tuesday for a 6:30 p.m. contest against third-seeded Pope Francis Preparatory School, formerly Cathedral High.

BHS Coach Anthony Halls said the Cardinals are “probably bigger than us at most every position. They’re a really good team; they’ve beaten quality opponents.” 

He stressed that “it’s playoff time. This is adversity and you’ve got to fight through it.”

The Buccaneers faced adversity in the first 18 minutes of Friday night’s first round game against 19th-seeded Grafton. Struggling on offense, Bedford fell behind 16-9 a minute into the second quarter, battled back for an 18-18 tie three minutes in, and then didn’t score for the remainder of the half.

“We’ve had a lot of slow starts this year, I’m not sure why,” Halls mused. Friday night he thinks there were some post-season jitters. “Some of the guys hadn’t been in a moment like that, where every possession matters. We had to relax and settle down. I thought we recovered nicely.”

It took a little longer than usual. The Bucs trailed 23-18 at halftime, and allowed for early baseline layups by the Gators’ talented sophomore Larry Lamar (21 points) to fall behind by nine.

And then everything changed. The Bucs went on an 11-0 run, finished the third quarter tied at 31, and then ripped off the first nine points of the fourth quarter enroute to a 12-point win. 

During the second half, Bedford outscored Grafton, 33-18, and in the process attempted only three shots from outside the arc, hitting one. In the first half, the Bucs made two of 16.

Bedford travels to Springfield on Tuesday for a 6:30 p.m. game against third-seeded Pope Francis Preparatory School, formerly Cathedral High. Photo Finn Harte

“We made some adjustments against their zone at halftime,” Halls explained. “I told the guys not to settle and be more aggressive and make a more conscious effort to get the ball inside.”

Seniors Camdyn Shoesmith (22 points) and Justice Buchannan (13) took over the offense in that second half, combining for 30 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, and three steals. In the first half, Buchannan was scoreless with only two shot attempts. Shoesmith didn’t attempt a shot in the second quarter.

But in quarter number three when Shoesmith was double- or triple-teamed on the low post, he found Buchannan cutting down the lane. If there was a single defender, the big forward outmuscled him. He was seven-for-seven from the floor.

Halls also applauded the play of senior forward Jireh Joseph, who “came off the bench and really had an impact by the way he played defense on their two best players.” Lamar had 12 in the half, but only two hoops in the fourth quarter, and Shabd Murty, who scored nine in the first half, finished with nine. 

Grafton only took 38 shots, as the Gators turned the ball over 18 times. The Bucs, with 12 turnovers, missed 16 of 19 three-point shots but converted 18 of 32 inside the arc.

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