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Right time for a 'bug'; Kittredge nets 31 to lift Gaels.

Byline: Mike Richard

CLINTON -- Clinton High's Brendan Kittredge went home from school early on Monday with a bout of the stomach bug.

Then he responded with a truly "sick'' game, pouring in a season-high 31 points as the third-seeded Gaels shook off a sluggish first half by outscoring 14th-seeded Oxford High, 28-11, in the third quarter en route to an 88-56 victory in the first round of the Central Mass. Division 3 playoffs.

Clinton hosts No. 6 Littleton in a quarterfinal at 7 p.m. Friday.

Perhaps still on a high from its Clark Tournament Large Schools championship, Clinton fell victim early to strong outside shooting by the visiting Pirates (8-12), who drained 11 3-pointers for the game.

Liam Pickett (20 points) and Jake Parmenter (15 points), who combined for eight treys, had the hot hand in the first half as the Pirates moved to a 32-30 lead at the break.

"We didn't come out flat, we just needed to find the right combination of things we could do with the right combination of kids out there,'' Clinton coach Tony Gannon said. "It's hard to maintain the same intensity we had in the Clark, but we had a great second half.''

The top priority was stopping Pickett, who had 15 points at the half, and preventing Oxford from hitting those backbreaking treys.

"I thought we had a good game plan coming in, and we did a good job on Kittredge early,'' Oxford coach Sean Halloran said. "Liam was hitting his shots and we went into the break feeling pretty confident.''

However, Clinton put Christian Paredes (13 points) on Pickett to try to neutralize him in the second half. The Gaels then went to work generating their offense with strong rebounding while also winning the turnover battle.

"The first half, they shot lights-out,'' Gannon said. "So we came out (in the third quarter) with a diamond-and-one, figuring we'd take Pickett away and see if they could still shoot that way.''

Richard Dalton (17 points) opened the half with a layup to tie the game at 32-32, then Paredes hit two free throws, both following steals by Eddie Rupia. Kittredge stole a cross pass and hit a bucket, then collected another Rupia steal and knocked down another jumper.

"I was sick during school, then it hit me again before the game, but I wasn't going to let it stop me,'' Kittredge said. "We realized if we lose, we're done, so we came out strong in the third quarter.''

The Gaels led, 43-37, then outscored the Pirates, 15-6, over the final four minutes of the quarter to put the game away.

Kittredge went on a six-point flurry before Parmenter hit a 3-pointer for Oxford. Raygel Obispo followed with a layup. Then, after a Nikolas Tremblay trey, Paredes hit two buckets and Dalton added a put-back for a 58-43 lead after three.

"We had five possessions and five turnovers to start the quarter,'' Halloran said. "We just couldn't stop the bleeding.''
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Title Annotation:Sports
Author:Richard, Mike
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Feb 25, 2014
Words:497
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