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BABC VETERANS DAY BASKETBALL

Middlesex defeats Worcester West

Roxbury Latin’s Rohan Shukla’s 14 points and stellar outside shooting helped the Middlesex Magic overcome a 4-point halftime deficit to lift Middlesex over Worcester West, 53-46, at the 24th annual Veterans Day Classic at the Mansfield Sportsplex Saturday. The game was one of the day’s 31 boys’ basketball contests. Play continues Sunday at 8:30 a.m.

With 12:04 remaining in the second half, Shukla drained a 3-pointer to ignite a 7-0 run and give the Magic the lead for good.

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Worcester cut the lead to 4 with 4:30 to play, but the Magic’s disciplined defense forced a turnover to stop the momentum. After another turnover, senior Aaron Swenson (12 points), the Magic’s floor leader, found Obi Obiora in traffic for a jump shot to stretch the lead to 9 with 2:10 to play.

With Middlesex’s first-half offensive troubles, second-year coach Derek Brooks credited his team’s ability to keep the game within reach to its suffocating defense.

“The first half, we had some offensive woes, our defense really kept us in the game,” Brooks said. “Being only down 4 and scoring only 14 points in 16 minutes, that’s some really bad offense, but really good defense, just holding them to 18 points.

“Rohan hit some big shots in the second half. . . . We rode the momentum of [Shukla’s 3-pointers] and we were still locking down our defense.”

The junior shooting guard will be a key piece to Middlesex’s team next year after the Magic lose two vital players: seniors Phil Leotsakos and Obiora.

“Obi changes the game with his size and ability,” said Mike Crotty, the Magic’s director. “Obi can score the ball with his back to the basket, and he also possesses an excellent jump shot.”

Leotsakos, who plays for BC High, is still deciding between going to college or prep school.

His ability to play two positions is what made him a key player in the Magic’s win and overall successful AAU season. Leotsakos is gaining interest from schools, but he is also considering Bridgton and Choate for prep school.

“Phil is a superior athlete with excellent size, length, and instincts,’’ Crotty said.

“He plays both ends of the floor extremely well, and I believe his potential is very high at the collegiate level.”

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