VBB vs. Putnam Science Academy: CA-76; PSA-78

Putnam Science Academy - 78
Cushing Academy - 76

To finish out the 2019-2020 regular season, the Cushing Varsity Boys’ Basketball team welcomed the Mustangs of Putnam Science Academy.  With the Mustangs one of the top rated prep school programs in the nation and watching three Mustang players walk through the doors to the Watkins Field House at heights 7’ or greater, the Penguins knew they were in for a tough game.  The Mustangs not only had height, but they had skilled and strong guards the Penguins would have to contend with as well. It was a highly anticipated match-up and a perfect afternoon destination for the Cushing Family Weekend attendees.

The energy in the Field House was palpable as the game tipped-off and Isaiah Gray ‘20 lifted it even higher with a steal and thunderous dunk on the second possession of the game.  PSA responded with a three pointer and another basket to earn an early 5-2 lead. The score remained 5-2 for some time as each team worked hard to step-up their defensive efforts and not allow the opposing time to see the bottom of the net.  It took a bit, but both the Penguins and Mustangs finally settled into their rhythms to get things going and Cushing grabbed the lead at the half.

Gathering their thoughts over the halftime break, PSA quickly forced two Penguin turnovers and scored off an offensive rebound to cut the Penguin lead to two points as the second half got rolling.  From here there were countless lead changes as the game remained neck-and-neck to the wire and neither team spread the lead past 5 points for the rest of the way. The game ended with each team being challenged to make free throws to finish.  With the game tied at the end of regulation, the Mustangs had the opportunity to sink the Penguins on a three ball, but it wouldn’t fall and the game went into overtime.

Both teams were in the double bonus for the overtime period and they converted at the line.  A total of 75 free throws were taken in the game and 4 players fouled out. With decimated rosters and energy levels, the Penguins and Mustangs clawed at each other for the win.  With a mere 3.4 seconds left on the clock and the Penguins down by 2, they somehow found the bottom of the net to the delight of the crowd and home bench. The excitement was short lived as a foul on the inbound play put the PSA point guard at the line for two shots and he converted both despite the pressure.  A full court heave by Gray on the Cushing inbound pass hit the backboard and deflected off of the front of the rim before falling harmless to the court to give the PSA squad a 78-76 win.

Game Stats for Cushing - 
Bensley Joseph ‘21 - 20 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists
Daniel Braster ‘20 - 12 points, 8 rebounds
Alexis Matos-Reyes ‘21 - 9 points
Toby Okani ‘20 - 8 points
Malachi Ndur ‘20 - 8 points, 6 rebounds
Isaiah Gray ‘20 - 7 points
Jack Gumbert ‘20 - 6 points
Coby Gold ‘20 - 3 points
Sean Okpoebo ‘20 - 3 points

The Penguins will now await the seedings to find out their opponent in the AA New England playoff, which starts with the quarterfinals on Wednesday, March 4th.

Final Regular Season Record: 23-6

Cushing Academy

39 School Street
Ashburnham, Massachusetts 01430

Cushing Academy

Cushing Academy exists for students and develops curious, creative, and confident learners and leaders. Founded in 1865, Cushing is a co-ed, college preparatory boarding and day school for students in grades 9-12 and PG. Our students, who come from over 30 states and 30 countries, excel in our outstanding academic, art, and athletic offerings. We welcome you to visit our community and beautiful 162-acre campus in Ashburnham, Mass., just one hour from Boston, to experience all that Cushing has to offer.