NORTH ADAMS -- Playing in its first game in 10 days, the Drury boys' basketball team showed both the positives and negatives of a long layoff.
The positive: The Blue Devils won for the first time this season, 59-52 over Monument Mountain in the opening round of the Gene Wein tournament.
"We haven't played in 10 days and it's only our second game, so we have to get the jitters out," Drury coach Jack Racette said. "We haven't found our match yet. We got a win and that is good, but we have to play better than that if we are going to compete."
The negative: A slow start and rusty finish.
While both the first five minutes and the last eight minutes weren't the type of game the Blue Devils want to play. Their play in the second and third quarter propelled them to victory.
The Spartans went on a 10-5 run to open the game. Drury's Nolan Bird and Isiah Pantoja answered late in the first quarter and in the second.
Bird out-scored the entire Monument roster in the second quarter, as he put in nine of his game-high 17 points. The Spartans were able to record only eight points.
Monument gave Bird seven attempts at the foul line in the second quarter. He hit five of those free shots. He also recorded six of his 14 rebounds in that time frame.
"Coach tells us all the time, most of our points will come from rebounds," Bird said. "And rebounds taken away from the other team is taking points away from them. Basically I was just trying to get as many rebounds as I could and put them back in."
Drury owned a seven-point lead at the end of the first half and padded it with a big start to the third quarter.
Pantoja led his team on an 11-2 run to open the second half. He scored five of his 14 points in the first 90 seconds of the second half.
"We usually thrive on defense, but today wasn't all about defense," Pantoja said. "We were putting the ball in the hoop, luckily we did it enough."
The quick start to the second half opened up a 16-point lead that the Spartans couldn't overcome.
Peter Oggiani scored 16 points, 12 in the second half, for the Spartans. He was the only member of his team to reach double figures.
"I feel like we have a lot of work to do on our fourth quarters," Bird said. "But this is only our second game, so we have time to improve."
Paced by Oggiani, the Spartans out-scored the Blue Devils 18-12 in the final frame. Part of the problem for the Blue Devils in the fourth was a lack of trips to the foul line.
"They didn't foul us in the second half, but part of that was our inability to go to the basket," Racette said. "We were content to just keep shooting jump shots. We really have to take it to the basket."
Bird's double-double allowed his team to grab the victory, as he pulled down three rebounds in the final minute of the contest.
"Bird is our guy, he's the workhorse," Racette said. "If he doesn't have big games every night, we're going to struggle. I think we have some good complimentary pieces that showed tonight."
Kareen Beckett added six rebounds for the Blue Devils, and Justin Girard and Cam Parrino each added four.
"I think this year it's going to be more about scoring than it is about defense for us," Pantoja said. "That's going to be different. ... But we have to go with the flow."
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