Zac Vierra – Co-Editor-in-Chief
In the first game since the passing of senior captain Sean Bertanza, the Lasell men’s basketball team fell to Keene State College 73-63 on Thursday.
It was an emotional game from the beginning for Lasell. Many players wrote the number 11 on their shoes, a tribute to Bertanza. Before the game Reverend Tom Sullivan, the director of the Center for Spiritual Life, spoke to the crowd telling them to take care of themselves, take care of each other, and to find a way to remember Bertanza to give meaning to his life. Sullivan’s words were followed by a moment of silence for Bertanza.
After the touching ceremony there was still a game to be played and 12 seconds in Lasell took an early lead as Rob Roy drained a three. But Keene went on a 14-4 run to take control early in the first quarter.
Lasell would keep the game close and with 7:04 remaining in the half the Lasers regained the lead as Angel Ortiz got fouled and swished a pair of free throws to make it 23-21. The teams would go back and forth until Roy took a pass from Brandon Ganesh in the left corner and hit a trey to give the Lasers the 28-27 edge. After three more lead changes Keene had a 38-35 edge at the half.
Lasell caught fire from behind the arc to start the second half as Ganesh, Roy, and Ortiz all connected on treys in a minute span to put the Lasers up 50-46 with 15:14 to play. Ortiz and Roy would hit two more threes to give Lasell the 56-50 lead with 13:48 left but Keene went on a 6-0 run to tie it up.
Yet again Lasell fought back as Ortiz hit his third three of the half to regain the lead and a minute later Jeremy Daniel hit a layup to give the Lasers a 61-56 advantage. But Keene got six straight points to take the lead back before Daniel hit a jumper with 4:57 left to give Lasell the edge.
It was the last time the Lasers would be in front as they went cold from three point range and Keene went on a 11-0 run to finish the game including a thunderous tomahawk dunk in transition by Rashad Wright with 1:34 left that seemed to deflate the home team.
“There was a little bit of miscommunications at the end, lack of execution at the end, not getting the rebound, and the ball not bouncing our way here and there but that’s just basketball,” said Lasell assistant coach Corey Lowe.
It was a valiant effort by Lasell which was led by Ortiz who finished with 15 points. The loss was not due to a lack of effort as the Lasers played hard all game and were willing to sacrifice the body all night taking a total of five charges.
“We wanted to come back after the break and come together as a team. We have had a lot of good practices lately and we just wanted to come out and give the best effort we could for all of the things that are going on outside of basketball. We wanted to do that for each other and I feel like, and the coaches feel like, and the team feels like we did that,” said Lowe.
Notes: Lasell players wore warm up shirts which said #BURNTHESHIPS on the front and had Bertanza’s 11 on the back. This is a reference to the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire in 1519 in which Spanish Conquistador Hernando Cortez ordered his men to burn their ships giving them extra motivation to become victorious. The Lasers have had this motto throughout the season and decided it was a good time to put it on a shirt to help the team band together…Bertanza’s number 11 jersey was draped across a seat on the team bench by head coach Aaron Galletta before the game and it stayed there for the duration of the game…Lasell fell to 1-9 on the season after the loss. The Lasers will play three times on the road before returning to Lasell to play Suffolk on January 12.