Published in the March 9, 2016 edition

JUNIOR swingman Louis Ellis (5) scored a career-high 34 points during the Pioneers’ 68-57 victory over Newburyport in the Division 3 North quarterfinals March 4.     (Dan Tomasello Photo)

JUNIOR swingman Louis Ellis (5) scored a career-high 34 points during the Pioneers’ 68-57 victory over Newburyport in the Division 3 North quarterfinals March 4. (Dan Tomasello Photo)


LYNNFIELD — Junior swingman Louis Ellis and senior captain Brendan Sullivan were unstoppable in the second–seeded boys’ basketball team’s 68-57 victory over 10th seed Newburyport 68-57 in the Division 3 North quarterfinals March 4.

“Those two kids won the game for us,” said Pioneers head coach Scott MacKenzie.

Ellis and Sullivan combined for 61 of the Pioneers’ 68 points. Ellis led the charge with a career-high 34 points.

“I went in feeling confident,” said Ellis. “After my shots started falling, my teammates kept getting me involved. Tonight was one of the best games I have been a part of.”

MacKenzie concurred with Ellis’ sentiment.

“Louis Ellis was the guy tonight,” said MacKenzie. “He is the best looking athlete we have had in the 17 years I have been here. The Louis Ellis from Dec. 18 couldn’t play this way but a confident Louis Ellis can do anything he wants on the basketball court. He has a great skill set. He was huge for us.”

Sullivan, who was named as the Cape Ann League’s Most Valuable Player this year, dropped 27 points on the Clippers.

“Brendan is the best,” said MacKenzie. “If you foul that kid, there is no doubt he is making those shots in the fourth quarter. He is a once in a career kind of kid.”

The first half resembled a track meet and the Pioneers managed to take a three-point lead, 19-16, at the end of first quarter. The second quarter mirrored the first and the Pioneers took a 31-29 lead at the break. Ellis scored 17 points in the first half while Sullivan added 12.

“Instead of our usual rock fight, it was an offensive battle,” said MacKenzie. “We could not defend anything and Newburyport could not defend anything.”

Lynnfield jumped out to an early 40-32 lead in the third quarter before the Clippers went on a brief run and cut the locals’ lead to four. Ellis helped the locals go on an 8-0 run after he scored on a driving lay-up and hit back-to-back three pointers.

The Pioneers took a 48-38 lead at the end of the third quarter. MacKenzie attributed the locals’ strong third quarter performance to the Pioneers playing tough defense and spreading the floor.

“We have run sets in the past but we have got to the point now where our guys are playing so well now, its instinctually,” said MacKenzie. “I want Brendan, Louis and Billy Arsenault to have dribble lanes. And when you open guys up like that, it creates rebounding opportunities on the offensive end.”

Sullivan gave Lynnfield a 53-41 lead in the beginning of the fourth quarter after drilling a three-pointer. On the next possession, Sullivan missed a three-pointer but senior Tucker Toroisan managed to come up with the offensive rebound and fed Sullivan for an open lay-up.

On the next possession, Ellis came out of nowhere to grab an offensive rebound and scored on a put back, making the game 57-41.

Newburyport went on a brief run down the stretch but Sullivan scored six straight free throws to give the locals the 68-57 victory.

“Newburyport is a well coached team that has kids who are aggressive, hard working and skilled,” said MacKenzie. “We know everything they want to do because they want to focus on penetration, penetration and penetration. We won enough battles to go up by 10 and that was the difference in the game.”

In addition to Ellis and Sullivan’s huge games, Billy Arsenault had three points and senior Esaie Philantrope scored two points.

Toroisan also finished with two points and several offensive rebounds.

“Tucker is like the sixth man of the universe,” said MacKenzie. “In the second half, we were up by eight before Newburyport cut it to four. Tucker got some big offensive rebounds and tip outs. He played the entire second half. He is a starter who comes off the bench.”

The Pioneers will face either 11th seed Saugus or 14th seed Stoneham in the Division 3 North semifinals on Wednesday, March 9, beginning at 7 p.m. at Essex Tech High School.