Mallards Down Jaguars, 52-35

BERLIN- Worcester Prep’s boys’ varsity basketball team used a couple of big runs to beat Salisbury Christian, 52-35, on Monday to improve to 8-2 on the season including a perfect 2-0 mark in the ESIAC conference.

The Mallards got balanced scoring from up and down the roster and hunkered down on defense nearly every time the Jaguars made a mini-run of their own to cruise to their eighth win against just two defeats. Worcester came out of the gates with an 11-2 run in the first quarter to set the tone early in the game. Christian Payne nailed a three-pointer just a minute into the contest and Justin Butler made it 5-0 with a put-back on a missed shot.

After a Parker McIntosh lay-up made it 7-2, Butler scored two more quick baskets to extend the lead to 11-2 before Salisbury Christian responded. The Jaguars got back in the game in the first quarter with a run of their own to cut the lead to 12-8 at the end of the first quarter.

In the second quarter both teams exchanged baskets early as the Mallards’ lead stayed around the four to six point range, but Worcester gained a big advantage thanks to a 9-0 run led by Butler and McIntosh. Worcester led 21-10 with just about three minutes left in the first half before the Jaguars went on a 7-2 run of their own to cut it to 23-17 with just over a minute left in the period.

However, the Mallards finished the first half with a flurry that sent the home crowd into a frenzy. Payne started the spurt with a three-pointer and Butler added a baseline jumper. After Max DiFillipo went coast to coast with a lay-up, Payne stole the inbound pass and converted a jumper to put the Mallards up 32-17 at the intermission.

In the third, DiFillipo took over to settle the issue once and for all. The point-guard went straight to the hole on several occasions early in the period as the Mallards went into a more controlled offense, which slowed the pace and ran down the clock. DiFillipo scored eight points in the third quarter alone, during which he was all over the floor on both ends. At one point in the third quarter, the Worcester lead bulged to 23 points at 42-19.

There was no quit in Salisbury Christian, however, which battled back to cut the lead to 12 points with a lot of time left. That was as close as the Jaguars would get as the Mallards continued to execute on offense and made big plays on defense. Worcester turned up the defense and contested every pass, which created turnovers and easy scoring opportunities.

Worcester was led by McIntosh, who scored 14 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Payne and Butler each finished with 13 points, while DiFilippo added 10, including eight in the decisive third quarter.