WESTBOROUGH, Mass. — Coach Brian Willar said he's been preaching defense and it was clear his Westborough boys basketball team took that to heart Friday night.
The Rangers held rival Nashoba to just two points in the first quarter, en route to a 66-51 victory in the Mid-Wach B contest.
"We've had two days to prepare for this game and we really put the focus on defensive effort, rebounding and running," he said. "It was just a good team effort on defense, and we really stressed that coming in."
Westborough (6-3, 3-0) was able to turn that tough defense into aggressive offense. The team led 17-2 after the first quarter and led Nashoba (6-4, 2-1) by 20-plus points for a majority of the game.
The Rangers' aggression also led to plenty of opportunities from the free-throw line. Senior captain Zach Diamond made nine free throws himself, and the team went 29-of-42 for the game.
"We try to put pressure on the other team," Willar said, noting that his players shoot between 60 to 80 free throws every day. "Our guards are definitely our strength."
The Rangers were led in scoring by junior captain Dan Orlando, who finished with 19, and Diamond, who scored 13 off the bench.
Willar said he was slightly worried that the half-day for Westborough schools might lead to his team coming out flat. That wasn't the case however, as his team fed off of the large crowd that turned out for the rivalry game.
The first 100 fans in attendance were given free shirts.
"When the season started they named their goals, and one was to get the fans back in the stands," he said. "The fans came out in force tonight, and it means a lot to us."
Westborough led 34-14 at halftime, and maintained that 20-point cushion, entering the fourth quarter leading 50-30.
Nashoba junior Nick Campana led a fourth-quarter rally with blocks and strong inside play that brought the Chieftains back within 11 with just over two minutes remaining, but they were unable to get any closer.
Willar said he was proud of the poise shown by his players at the end of the game to keep Nashoba from fighting all the way back.
Sophomore Connor Fitzgerald chipped in 12 points, and junior Mike Power added six of his own as Westborough's starters accounted for 49 of their 66 points.