Benoit and Drury Defense Step Up in Win Over MonumentNORTH ADAMS, Mass — Drury's tough defense and some clutch free-throw shooting from senior captain Tyler Benoit helped Drury overcome an 8-point deficit to beat Monument Mountain Regional High School 44-40 on Thursday night at Bucky Bullett Gymnasium.
The game started off slow as neither team could get much offense going. Keefe Gitto, Monument's 6-foot-9 big man, was the spark for the Spartans, as he started to get his jumper going from just outside the paint. He scored 8 of his game-high 14 points in the first quarter.
Drury continued to battle into the second quarter. Donyel Daugherty, who missed the first six games of the season with a broken nose, returned to action equipped with a face mask for protection. He looked to be a little rusty, but didn't let the facemask get in his way and went on to share a team-high in points with Benoit, both scored 12 points in the game.
“As you can see from tonight, he’s [Daugherty] a scorer. We are glad to have him back out on the floor contributing,” said Drury's coach Jack Racette. Daugherty scored seven of his 12 in the first half, which was a big help to keeping the Blue Devils in the game.
Monument jumped out to their biggest lead of the night (21-13) in the second quarter with a little over two and half minutes left to play. Gitto got out ahead of the defense and Sam Levin hit him stride for a big two-handed slam dunk. This seemed to wake up Drury and they picked up their defense and went into halftime down 25-23.
The Blue Devils came out of halftime and continued their tough defensive pressure. Drury held Monument to just two points in the whole third quarter and took the lead 31-27 going into the final quarter of play.
Racette said, "After the first half, we wanted to get out and pressure them. I think our pressure helped wear down their big man and that was a big part of us holding on to win."
The Devils did just what their coach expected, and Gitto was held to just two points in the whole second half after scoring 12 in the first. Robert Jutras had a large role in stopping Gitto as he was assigned to guard him for the second half. “He does the little things that you only see if you were at the game," said Racette.
Jutras played hard defense and kept Gitto out of his comfort zone. He denied Gitto the ball in the post and it really disrupted Monument’s offense.
Monument wasn't going to quit without a fight and kept the Blue Devils lead to no more than four points. In the fourth quarter, Drury's Benoit stepped his game up and showed why he is Drury's go-to guy. He scored all of his 12 points in the second half and was a clutch down the final stretch, as he knocked down four free throws with under a minute left to seal the victory for the Blue Devils.
"I just tried to stay calm and approach it like any other free throws," said Benoit, when asked about being at the line at the end of the game. "I think our team has been improving, and if we can make some more shots we can continue to win games because our defense plays hard every night."
“Every game, we need to continue to get better," stated Racette, after the game. "We are young team and tonight showed a lot about us improving because we didn't panic and played 94 feet defensively."
Drury plays again early Saturday beginning at 11 a.m. in the Coaches vs Cancer Classic at MCLA.