January 3, 2012

Middlebury senior Ryan Sharry (Braintree, Mass.) became the 16th player in school history to surpass the 1,000-point plateau as the top-ranked Panthers returned from the holiday break with an 83-54 win over Curry at the Salem State Holiday Classic. Middlebury shot .571 from the floor in the game, outscoring its opponents 23-6 from the charity stripe.

With his 22 points in the game, Sharry is now the only player in school history to score over 1,000 points (1,004), pull down over 600 rebounds and block over 100 shots (145). He is now fifth all-time at the school with his 672 boards.

Leading 36-21 at the half, Middlebury ran away with the game in the second session, cruising to the victory. All five starters were in double-figures for the Panthers, led by Sharry's 22 points on 8-11 shooting, while grabbing 10 boards. Junior Peter Lynch (Westford, Mass.) made all six shots he took, going 6-6 from the floor (8 rebounds), while sophomore Jake Wolfin (Woodcliff Lake, N.J.), rookie Dean Brierley (Morristown, N.J.) and sophomore Joey Kizel (Short Hills, N.J.) each scored 10 points. Kizel and Wolfin had seven assists apiece in the win.

Middlebury improved to 9-0 on the year with a 66-63 win at Salem State in the title. The top-ranked Panthers remain unbeaten on the season, while the Vikings fell to 7-4. Nate Simpson's three-pointer in the final seconds fell just short, as Middlebury held on for the win.

Wolfin broke a 57-57 tie with a three-pointer with just over three minutes remaining. Salem State closed the gap to one on three separate occasions, the last when Brian Clark's layup drew SSU to within 64-63. Kizel hit a pair of free throws with 18 seconds left to boost the margin to 66-63. Salem State worked the ball around the perimeter on its final possession, before Simpson got off a contested shot that grazed the front rim. The Vikings were unable to control the rebound as the clock ran out.

Wolfin and Kizel carried the Panthers on their back throughout the second half. The duo combined to score Middlebury's final 21 points, as no one else from the Panthers scored in the final 11 minutes. Wolfin finished with a game-high 21 points on 8-13 shooting, including 4-6 from three-point range, earning team m.v.p. honors for the tourney. Kizel added 20 points and was a perfect 6-6 from the line.

Middlebury appeared to take control of the game early in the second half, increasing a one-point halftime lead to eight, 43-35 with 13 minutes remaining after consecutive hoops by Sharry and Lynch. But the Vikings clawed their way back and eventually reclaimed the lead, 48-47 when Tavone Wynder drilled a three from the corner.

Less than a minute later, Wolfin hit a three to give Middlebury the lead back, and the teams traded baskets over the next three minutes. With the score tied at 54, Apollos Wade hit a three, his only bucket of the game to give the Vikings their largest lead of the half with five minutes remaining. Back-to-back threes by Kizel and Wolfin put Middlebury back on top for good, 60-57.

Clark led Salem State with 19 points on 9-13 shooting. Simpson just missed a double-double, finishing with eight points and 13 rebounds. The Vikings out-rebounded Middlebury 36-33, and shot a respectable 43% from the field. SSU was hurt by its poor performance beyond the arc, as the Vikings made just 3-16 three-point attempts. Middlebury shot 41% from the floor, and was 6-13 from downtown.

Sharry scored nine points with seven boards and three blocks to assist the backcourt efforts of Kizel and Wolfin. 
• Men’s Basketball record: 9-0
• Up next: 1/3 @ Rensselaer, 1/6 vs. Bates – 8, 1/7 vs. Tufts - 4