Edged by Salem before buzzer, 58-56


JUNIOR FORWARD Tighe Beck (center) led all Warrior scorers with 20 points in Wakefield’s first round game against Salem in the Golden Tornado Holiday Tournament yesterday at Malden High School. Wakefield dropped a 58-56 contest. (Donna Larsson File Photo)

JUNIOR FORWARD Tighe Beck (center) led all Warrior scorers with 20 points in Wakefield’s first round game against Salem in the Golden Tornado Holiday Tournament yesterday at Malden High School. Wakefield dropped a 58-56 contest. (Donna Larsson File Photo)

MALDEN — The Wakefield Memorial High varsity boys’ basketball team was back in the 2014 Malden Golden Tornado Club Holiday Tournament being held at Malden High School on Sunday. In this year’s tournament, the Warriors drew the Salem High Witches in their first round matchup.

It was a fast paced, up and down game, the type head coach Brad Simpson encourages his team to play. But in the end Salem just edged the Warriors at the final buzzer to take the 58-56 win and send Wakefield to the consolation round on Monday.

“I think the effort was great,” the coach said just after the game. “Without Brian (Dickey) I thought we got the kids to do exactly what we wanted.”

Wakefield was without starting guard, senior captain Dickey, who missed the game due to illness. Senior Neil Fitzgerald filled in for Dickey in the starting five and handled the point guard duties for the Warriors.

“We got a lot of kids to chip in,” said Simpson, “Johnny Miller, Alex McKenna, Neil Fitzgerald (and) Elijah Nardone. (They) were just really really good, everybody just gave us a little bit either on defense or offense. I’m very proud of the effort but disappointed in the outcome.”

Despite missing one of their key most effective players on both sides of the ball, Wakefield held a 16-13 lead after the first quarter behind some aggressive play in the low post by the rotation of Warrior big men which included Andrew Auld who scored six and Tighe Beck who led all Warriors scorers with 20 points.

“Tighe Beck was wonderful,” Simpson said of his junior forward.

Kobe Nadeau and McKenna chipped in as well in the first with McKenna converting a three-point play with a layup and free throw after taking a hit on the shot. He finished the game with five points.

The front court was working hard to pick up the slack left by the absent Dickey but the majority of the weight fell on the shoulders of fellow captain Chris Calnan.

Calnan, a senior, played his usual, highly effective game, scoring 11 points with five assists and seven rebounds. He is Wakefield’s biggest threat to score when he has the ball in his hands but without his wingman Dickey, Salem made things difficult.

“Chris was the quarterback of the whole thing,” said Simpson. “He set the tone not just offensively but defensively. He got the ball into Tighe where he could score.”

The Witches got hot in the second quarter and outshot the Warriors to take a 30-27 lead into the halftime break.

Wakefield made some positive adjustments in the locker room and came out firing on all cylinders in the third quarter and reclaimed the lead by outscoring their opponent 17-9 to take a narrow five point lead into the final quarter.

“We talked at halftime about taking away their fast break because it really hurt us in the second quarter and we did,” said the coach. “I think they had two fast break points the whole second half.”

With a slim lead and only one quarter left, the game hung in the balance for the final eight minutes. Wakefield came out and played well right off the bat in the final frame and with 5:30 to play the Warriors held a 10 point lead.

However, at that time the Witches turned it on and made a run. Turnovers and failure to convert on open layups down low by the Warriors in the last quarter may have cost them this game.

“I think we panicked a little bit when we were ahead by four points,” Simpson said. “We made a couple bad passes, threw it right to the defense where I thought we could have taken it to them and made a strong move and got fouled.”

By the 2:10 mark in the fourth quarter, the Warriors’ once 10-point lead was down to just two points. Salem’s guard Alex Sanchez tied the game with a daring drive to the basket for two to tie the game up at 53-53.

Auld was able to convert down low for two and give Wakefield a one possession lead with 1:35 to go in the game.

On the next Salem possession, Beck forced a turnover (one of his three steals) and was fouled, sending him to the free throw line where he made one of two free throws to put Wakefield up 56-53.

That’s when sixth man for Salem, freshman guard Ricky Arias tied the game with a three-pointer with just 37.7 seconds to go.

Wakefield was called for a five second violation on its ensuing possession, giving Salem the ball back with a chance to win the game. The Witches put the ball in the hands of their go-to offensive player, Sanchez, who drove in and took a mid-range pull up from about 10 feet that missed off the right side. The rebound was boxed around and found its way into the hands of Salem’s Kelven Perpetuo just to the right of the free throw line. Perpetuo’s last ditch shot went in hitting nothing but net with 1.4 seconds remaining in regulation.

After a time out, Wakefield’s Hail Mary-style inbound pass was tipped and the time expired.

“It’s just a tough one to lose,” Simpson said. “As a coach, defensively, against a very very explosive, high powered team we did all the things we needed to do. It’s a really tough pill to swallow,” Simpson said as his team heads to the consolation round on Monday.

The Warriors face Arlington Catholic tonight at 5:30 p.m. at Malden High School.


Golden Tornado

Holiday Tournament

At Malden High School

First Round

Salem 58, WAKEFIELD 56


WAKEFIELD (56) — Beck 7 6 20; Price 1 2 5; Auld 3 0 6; Calnan 4 3 11; Fitzgerald 0 0 0; Nadeau 0 0 0; Nardone 0 0 0; McKenna 2 1 5; Miller 4 0 9; Imbriano 0 0 0. Totals 21 12 56.

Salem (58) — Salem scoring not available.

Score By Quarters — WAKEFIELD 16-11-17-12 — 56. Salem 13-17-9-19 — 58.

Three-point FGs — Wak, Price 1, Miller 1. Sal, NA.