ANDOVER, Mass. — Jake Pilecki probably won’t lead Acton-Boxboro in scoring or any major statistical category with other key contributors lining the roster of the Colonials.
But that’s not what head coach Rick Kilpatrick needs him to do.
All Pilecki has to do is mimic his production from the Colonials 58-50 victory over Boston Latin (12-3) last night at Regan Gymnasium and the head coach will be happy.
Pilecki poured in five points in the final minute to help the Colonials push past the Wolfpack for the second time this season. The Colonials are now 13-1 on the regular season and Kilpatrick is getting used to seeing Pilecki come up when he is needed most.
“He’s our emotional leader,” said Kilpatrick. “He just brings a lot of energy to our team.”
The teams were locked in a one-possession game after Miles Wright hit a jumper with 1:29 left to go in the game. The Colonials were able to get the ball past the pressure defense and feed it to Pilecki in the post. He felt the defender on his back and instead of kicking it out to an outside shooter he turned and drilled a baseline jumper for a 55-50 lead.
“I wasn’t really thinking,” said Pilecki, who scored eight points on the night and grabbed seven rebounds. “I just got it and knew the shot clock was around (five seconds). I just put it up and I knew I could get over that kid.”
The Colonials came up with a defensive stop on the next possession and the Wofpack were trying to foul, but the Colonials were able to pass it around into Pilecki’s hands without getting a whistle. Pilecki saw the clock winding down, hoisted up a deep 3-pointer and drilled it with the buzzer sounding for the game-clincher.
“I knew there was five seconds and I was just going to pull that no matter what,” said Pilecki.
Pilecki’s clutch performances have not come as a surprise for teammate Kevin LaFrancis.
“He’s been huge,” said LaFrancis. “He’s been the motivator of the team and he’s been the biggest leader for us in the times of the greatest adversity. He’s just shown up in the biggest spots.”
LaFrancis Not Too Shabby: While LaFrancis praised his teammates for clutch finishes, it was the 6-foot-6 center that was the steady force that kept the Colonials afloat in the game.
LaFrancis finished the game with a game-high 27 points and 10 rebounds, with the majority of his buckets coming in the post.
“They guarded us hard, but we felt like we had the height advantage,” said LaFrancis. “We definitely had the advantage on the inside and we tried to exploit that early.”
LaFrancis finished 11-for-17 from the floor and came to life in the beginning of the third quarter. He posted the first eight points of the quarter for the Colonials with a number of post moves. More importantly, he was able to get Mike Wojewodzic and Jack Duggan into foul trouble to break into the depth of the Wolfpack front line.
“That’s what we want to do,” said Kilpatrick. “We want to try and get the ball inside and draw fouls.”
Wolfpack in the Hunt: The emotions were running high for the Wolfpack after dropping the first game of the season against the Colonials and they were in this one all the way to the bitter end.
It’s safe to say that this won’t be the last time anyone hears about Boston Latin.
The Wolfpack are a balanced team with legitimate scorers up and down the lineup. None might be more prolific than Wright. The junior finished with 20 points and showed a good inside game to go along with the lost art that is the midrange jumper.
Wright came away with five steals and nearly threw down a tomahawk dunk on the break that would have brought the Wolfpack a crucial bucket in the final moments of the fourth, but he lost the ball on the way down and it clanged off the rim.
The athleticism is there and he will be a presence that the Dual County League and the rest of the state will have to be aware of.
“He doesn’t realize how good he can be year,” said Wolfpack head coach Brendan Smith. “He’s a young junior. He just turned 16 a littte while ago and he’s not a really a big man but for us he plays big. He’s more of a small forward and he’s going to be a tough cover.”
Added Kilpatrick: “We basically felt that we were going to give him the midrange jumper and we can’t let him get to the rim, because that’s when he’s so tough. To his credit he made them.”