Redmen Edged By Marblehead In State Tournament Overtime Thriller, 46-43
Tewksbury High boys basketball team is eliminated from the state tournament in the first round.
If nothing else, you have to give Phil Conners credit for putting the excitement back into Tewksbury High basketball.
First-year coach Conners and his TMHS Redmen had a packed house full of fans sitting on the edge of their seats all night, putting on a spirited defensive effort for four quarters before suffering a heartbreaking, 46-43 overtime loss to Marblehead High in the first round of the MIAA Divsiion 2 North Sectional tournament Tuesday night in Marblehead.
"It was our best defensive game of the year," said Conners afterward. "We just didn't do it offensively. We didn't attack their 1-3-1 (zone defense) the right way. We got a lot of good shots, but we missed them. That was a heartbreaker."
The Redmen, who have shot the ball inconsistently all year, hit only nine of their 18 free throws and shot sporadically from outside the paint in a game that was theirs for the taking had they hit their shots.
Tewksbury came out ice cold in the first quarter, and didn't make a field goal until there was just 1:17 left to play in the opening period. But outstanding defensive efforts by seniors Sean Foley and Anthony Chiccarelli helped hold Marblehead to just eight points in the first period. And when senior guard Bobby Lumbard drained a three-pointer at the buzzer, the two teams went to the second period tied, 8-8.
Tewksbury's shooters were off target in the second quarter as well, but the defense held Marblehead to just 10 more points and the Redmen trailed by just three at the half, 18-15. Foley led the team with six first half points.
"We were awful (offensively) in the first half but Foley kept us in there," Conners said. "And Chiccarelli's defense was unbelievable, especially coming off knee surgery."
The Redmen started to find the range in the third period as senior guard Mike Doucette buried a pair of three-pointers and sophomore forward Kevin Dick added a third as TMHS drew even at 28-28 going into the fourth period.
Tewksbury even grabbed a brief led when the Redmen scored the first six points of the fourth quarter to go up, 34-28. But Marblehead took advantage of a distinct size advantage and pushed the ball inside, responding with a 9-0 run that put the host Magicians back on top.
Foley and Doucette each hit a critical pair of free throws to help the Redmen draw even in the final minute, but Lumbard could not beat the buzzer with a three-pointer from the corner, and the game went into overtime.
In the extra frame, Marblehead again utilized its size advantage and scored the first six points of the OT period, and held on for the 46-43 win.
Marblehead (10-10) had entered the game as the No. 10 seed in the Division 2 North Sectional bracket, while the Redmen were the 18th (and lowest) seed, bringing a 7-13 mark into the game.
"That team has beaten Lynn English, they beat Danvers," Conners said. "It's a good team. They're just big. They're huge. We struggled to stop them down low."
Doucette finished with a team high 13 points while Dick added 11 and Foley scored eight. Lumbard finished with five points, senior forward Chris Fandel had four and Chiccarelli scored two. Tewksbury's seniors accounted for 32 of the team's 43 points.
"They played their butts off," Conners said of his seniors. "I just told them I was ecstatic. This could have been a terrible situation, with a new coach and a new system...It looked tough to start but they battled and they bought in. Hopefully they started something and we can build on that going forward.
"I couldn't be happier with these guys, they worked hard all year," Conners added. "They're just a bunch of great kids who really love basketball."