COURTESY of MassLive:
LUDLOW — The Ludlow boys basketball team goes over how to run a transition offense every day in practice.
3-on-2 and 2-on-1 drills are a staple of the team’s itinerary and for good reason. This year’s roster has speed and the best way to take advantage of it is by forcing turnovers and getting easy points on the other end.
That is exactly what the Lions did against Hampden Charter on Monday.
“If we don’t do that we struggle in the half court to score,” Ludlow coach Cliff Zimmer said. “That is our strength.”
The Lions defeated Hampden Charter at home, 63-36. Ethan Schwartz scored a game-high 20 points for Ludlow (2-4), while Cameron Ranck and William Abange each scored a team-high nine points for Hampden Charter (0-5).
The Lions created offense early in the game by forcing turnovers. Schwartz and Jack Serafino (six points) played energetic defense on the perimeter and created scoring opportunities in transition.
Schwartz scored off back to back Hampden turnovers late in the first quarter to put Ludlow ahead, 15-6.
The Lions’ senior consistently sliced through Hampden’s defense and scored in the paint on Monday night, even through the tightest of windows.
“He has gotten good at contorting his body to finish at the rim,” Zimmer said. “He is real nifty. It is something that has always been a strength of his. Now that he is longer and taller it is easier for him. … He has grown and is starting to realize what he can do with his body.”
Ludlow’s Kyle Fontoura opened the second quarter with a 3-pointer to build on the Lions’ lead. Joe Villano and Tom Hitchcock kept possessions alive with offensive rebounds off missed shots during all four quarters to help Ludlow pad its advantage.
Hitchcock started on Monday, as he usually does, and Villano worked into the rotation. Both have proven to be important rebounders for the Lions and compliment each other’s game well when they are on the court at the same time.
“We are looking for them to get a bunch of boards for us and put-backs,” Zimmer said. “They have been great.”
Hampden Charter got some momentum late in the second quarter when William Abange scored down low and was fouled. He made the following free throw, but Schwartz went on to score four more fast break layups in the second quarter to put Ludlow ahead 35-17 going into halftime.
The Lions continued to roll in the second half. Schwartz’s first made basket of the quarter was a 3-pointer and Fontoura made another shot from beyond the arc to put the game out of reach going into the fourth quarter. Hitchcock scored a team-high four points in the final quarter of play.
Monday was senior night for eight of the Lions’ players and their three managers. Zimmer thinks this year’s group of seniors have grown close and worked together through hard moments off the court.
“They have stuck together,” Zimmer said. “They have been through a lot. … They have been through the pandemic, but have stuck together. There is a brotherhood and love amongst them. They really cheer for each other and want to see each other succeed and do well. … They are top notch people.”