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No. 1 Gaels plant seed for a title run.

Byline: Jennifer Toland

WORCESTER -- Clinton senior forward Eddie Rupia said he and his teammates wanted to prove they were worthy of their top seeding in the Large School division of this year's Clark Tournament.

"We wanted to come in and play our best,'' Rupia said, "play like the No. 1 seed.''

In Monday night's quarterfinal against No. 8 seed Westboro, the Gaels dominated things inside offensively and kept Westboro out of sync with their zone defense en route to a 58-41 win.

Clinton (17-3) will face Quabbin, which beat Nashoba in Monday night's other quarterfinal, in a semifinal at 7:45 p.m. Thursday. The game is a rematch of last year's semi, won by Quabbin.

"It will be nice to play them again and win this time,'' Rupia said.

Senior forward Richard Dalton scored 17 points and pulled down 14 rebounds, both game highs, to lead Clinton. Junior guard Brendan Kittredge added 13 points and eight assists. Rupia had 10 rebounds.

The Gaels outscored Westboro in the paint, 40-18, and outrebounded the Rangers, 43-36. Westboro shot just 28 percent from the field and made 2 of 16 3-point attempts.

"They're a good team obviously and they played a great zone against us,'' Westboro coach Brian Willar said. "They made us shoot the 3 and they had way too many layups. We didn't get anything going for ourselves. The effort was great, but they took us out of what we wanted to do with their zone.''

Junior guard Connor Fitzgerald scored 15 points for the Rangers (11-9).

Clinton had won eight straight before falling to Maynard last Friday. The Gaels' other losses this season were to St. John's and David Prouty.

Against Westboro, the Gaels gradually built their lead.

AJ Bedard's layup started a 10-0 Clinton run that spanned the last 1:44 of the first quarter and the first 1:34 of the second and the Gaels took an 18-10 lead.

Clinton, which shot 50 percent from the field in the first half, led, 30-21, at the break.

Senior forward Christian Parades got the Gaels going in the second half with a breakaway layup and his pair of free throws extended the lead to 37-21 with 5:54 left in the third.

Later in the quarter, Rupia found senior guard Ronal Asencio underneath and his basket gave the Gaels their largest lead, 45-27, up to that point.

Clinton scored 14 fastbreak points.

"We were aggressive on defense, we got out running,'' Rupia said. "We were doing the things that we do.''

The Gaels led by as many as 20 in the fourth quarter.

"We knew they were coming in playing real well,'' Clinton coach Tony Gannon said. "I thought we controlled the boards, limited them to one shot and showed a lot of patience. We got a lot of points inside and that's what we have to do. We beat a good team that was playing as well as anyone coming into the tournament, so we feel good about that.''

Clinton was 7 for 21 from the free-throw line in the loss to Maynard. The Gaels got to the line just 10 times last night but made eight of the free throws and Gannon thought that was a key as well.

Contact Jennifer Toland

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Title Annotation:Sports
Author:Toland, Jennifer
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Feb 18, 2014
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