AUBURN, Mass. – Auburn fans dressed up and painted themselves in blue before the boys basketball home opener Friday night. The scoreboard turned out to be all blue at the end of the night.
In the 2nd Annual “Blue Out” to kick off the Rockets’ season Dec. 14, Auburn held off the Grafton Indians, 52-46, in front of an electric student section at Auburn High School. Senior Tyler Lamonda led the Rockets with 20 points, scoring a layup from an out-of-bounds play with 3:30 left in the game to give Auburn the lead for good.
“I’m just happy that we were able to pull it out. Our guys buckled down, made the plays when it counted and came out on top,” Auburn head coach Andrew Niedzwiecki said. “Grafton’s not a bad team. They came out and competed hard, made us work for everything that we got. But we did a much better job of executing in the second half and were able to pull it out.
“We still got a ways to go, though,” he added.
The Rockets came storming out of the gates, scoring the game’s first six points in the opening minute, forcing three consecutive turnovers and causing Grafton to burn a quick timeout.
But the Indians turned it around and went on a 25-14 run in the rest of the half. Grafton hit two three-pointers right before halftime, going ahead 25-20 and riding momentum into the locker room.
But in a game that saw several lead changes, the Rockets started the second half with a fury, exploding with a 16-6 run and leading 38-35 at the end of the third quarter.
Then after Grafton battled back to tie the game at 40, the Rockets pulled ahead for good with Lamonda’s critical layup with 3:30 left.
“That was obviously a big hoop, but it’s only a big hoop if you get the stop on the either end, which we were able to get,” Niedzwiecki said.
Auburn went on a 10-0 run to lead 50-40 with a minute left, made its free throws and prevailed. Other scorers were junior DJ Scavone with nine points, senior Tyler Simmons with eight points, sophomore Mark Wright with seven points, junior Michael Thomas with six points and senior John Kewley with two points.
Senior Eric Thompson led the Indians with 14 points. Other scorers were junior Josh Levy with 13 points, senior Matt Taylor with eight points, sophomore Matt Olsen with five points, junior Dan Martin with four points and senior Josh Evans with two points.
Before the game, a moment of silence was held for the victims of Friday’s tragic school shooting in Newtown, Conn.