PAXTON, Mass – Saturday afternoon the AMCATS hosted the Johnson & Wales Wildcats in cold, windy Paxton, Mass. In the gym the Great Northeast Athletic Conference contest goes down as an instant classic. Both teams wanted this game and it made for some great action. Ultimately the Wildcats left the Fuller Center with the 71-66 conference victory.
For the AMCATS, sophomore forward Mike Rapoza (Charlton, Mass) scored 17 points to lead the home team. He also grabbed 14 rebounds, leading all rebounders, for his ninth double-double of the season. Rapoza's score line was boosted with two blocks and three steals on the afternoon. Senior forward Kenneth Graham (West Haven, Conn) was right on Rapoza's heels in terms of rebounds, pulling down 13 of his own while also dishing out four assists. Junior guard Sidney Limage (Randolph, Mass) continued his consistent play adding nine points to the AMCATS tally and racking up seven rebounds. Off the bench for the 'Cats Sophomore guard Bobby Perette (Marshfield, Mass) and senior guard Liam Picket (Oxford, Mass) had big impacts, scoring 16 and 15 respectively, both shooting six-for-11 from the field.
The Wildcats were led by junior guard Briand Hogan-Gary (Staten Island, N.Y.) who led all scorers with 23 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as well as snagging 10 steals on the day to post a slightly unconventional triple-double. Junior forward Randal Ferdinand (Pembroke Pine, Fla) who started and freshman guard Donovian Maxfield (York, PA) who came off the bench, each scored 13 points for the visitors. Rounding out the double digit scorers for JWU was senior guard Jarell Lawson (Providence, R.I.) who scored 12 points in the victory.
The hosts jumped out to a 6-0 lead before the Wildcats got their first bucket after three minutes of play. In the first half it was all AMCATS who had all of the momentum and while there were two instances where the game was tied, the 'Cats never trailed in the first half. At one point AMC jumped out to an 11-point, 33-22 lead with just under six minutes left on the clock. In the last five minutes of the half the Wildcats were able to cut the lead down to seven and the AMCATS led this one at the break, 38-21.
In the second half, Johnson & Wales came out firing and their defense was solid. They quickly shrunk the AMC lead to one before taking a 39-38 lead after three minutes of play. Anna Maria wouldn't get their first bucket of the second half until the 15:35 mark when Mike Rapoza hit two foul shots to get back within three points. Anna Maria would grab the lead back, 49-48, at the 12-minute mark by way of a three pointer by Liam Pickett. From that point on the Wildcats were able to take control once again and never look back. The lead grew to as many as nine points with just over five minutes to play. Down six points with no fouls to give with just over a minute to play the AMCATS began conceding foul shots, and while the Wildcats only converted on the free throws three-of-four times, Anna Maria was only able to pull back within five points as time expired and Johnson and Wales left frigid Paxton with the 71-66 conference victory.
Anna Maria will be back in action on Thursday, January 11th at 6pm when they will travel to Mount Ida to take on the Mustangs in GNAC play.