Warrior defense is key in second straight victory

ALEX MCKENNA, a senior (front), dribbles the ball up the floor after a steal during Tuesday night’s win over Melrose. Teammates Joe Carmilla-Smith (#11), Max Hinchey (#20), and Kobey Nadeau (#23). (Donna Larsson Photo)

ALEX MCKENNA, a senior (front), dribbles the ball up the floor after a steal during Tuesday night’s win over Melrose. Teammates Joe Carmilla-Smith (#11), Max Hinchey (#20), and Kobey Nadeau (#23). (Donna Larsson Photo)


MELROSE — Don’t look now, but the Warrior boys’ basketball team is moving up in the Middlesex League Freedom division standings.

Wakefield won its second game in a row and did so against a Melrose team that was tied for first place as it posted a 50-40 triumph on Tuesday night at the Melrose Veterans Memorial Middle School Gymnasium.

The Warriors are now 2-4 on the season and have won back-to-back games against Wilmington and Melrose to move out of last place in the M.L. Freedom division.

The Red Raiders, who were tied with Watertown for first place in the Freedom division, dropped into second with a 4-2 league record and 5-2 overall mark.

What made the win more impressive is that the Warriors rallied from an 11 point deficit with 6:36 left in the third quarter. Wakefield did so with stifling defense as it held Melrose to just five points total in the third quarter. Offensively, Wakefield broke out with an 18 point outburst and led by four points (34-30) after three complete periods.

“We played great defense,” said head coach Brad Simpson. “Defensively, I thought we had one of best periods against Wilmington. But I think the third quarter tonight was even better.”

Wakefield trailed 7-6 after the first quarter and was down at halftime, 25-16.

Senior guard Sean Donovan (eight pints) scored a basket to put Melrose up by 11 points, 27-16, its biggest advantage of the game with 6:36 left in the third. But that was as large as the lead got.

Just 15 seconds later, senior forward Zach Price (nine points) sunk two free throws as the Warriors went on an 8-1 run. Senior captain and forward Kobey Nadeau (six points) recorded an inside basket a minute later and then senior guard Brendan DeLeire had a steal and a lay-up with 5:16 left to cut the lead to 27-22.

Nadeau then recorded a basket while being fouled which cut the lead to 27-24 with 4:32 left.

Wakefield then had the run ended with a bit of physical play as junior guard Joe Carmilla-Smith tangled with Melrose’s Frantz Pierrot, a junior forward. Carmilla-Smith was hit with a double technical foul and forced to leave the game. The junior will also have to sit out the next contest.

The Red Raiders were awarded two free throws and possession of the ball. However the Red Raiders made one of two free throws with senior guard Anthony Colozzo hitting the free throw. Wakefield prevented a basket on the ensuing possession, so it only trailed 28-24.

Alex McKenna, a senior captain, scored two of his eight points with a basket on a pass from senior guard John Evangelista (10 points) as the Warriors cut the lead to two, 28-26, with 3:02 remaining in the the third quarter.

Donovan hit a fallaway shot with 2:30 left in the third to give the Red Raiders a 30-26 lead.

But Wakefield went on an 8-0 run to end the third quarter. Evangelista scored on a cutter with McKenna making a nice pass. The senior then canned a try and junior guard Andrew Miller (a team high 12 points) hit the first of his four trifectas on the night with 50 seconds left as Wakefield took a 34-30 advantage after the third quarter.

“We came out in the third quarter and wanted to rebound better defensively. They had a lot of offensive rebounds in the first and second quarter which killed us,” said Simpson. “We rebounded defensively and then the shots starting going on. We scored on the inside which softened them up for the three-point shots.

“Andrew Miller played a great game. Brendan DeLeire had a big steal and basket which picked us up,” continued Simpson. “Kobey Nadeau also played more minutes tonight. We needed him. Even at 65 percent, he’s pretty good. That is a really good Melrose team that we beat in their home gym. Everybody on the team on the team contributed.”

Both teams had a hard time getting the ball through the cylinder in the first quarter.

Nadeau sunk two free throws and Price recorded a layup to give the Warriors a 4-0 with 5:17 left in the opening period. After Donovan hit a jump shot, Evangelista recorded a layup with 3:56 left to give the Warriors a 6-2 advantage.

But Melrose scored the final five points of the quarter to take a 7-6 lead after none. Senior forward Sean Prendergast scored a basket and then senior guard T’Mahri Mercer (13 points) hit one of two free throws and then sunk a shot from inside the paint with 1.4 seconds left to give Melrose its first lead.

Evangelista canned a trey with 7:12 remaining in the second period to give the Warriors the lead again at 9-7. Mercer then had a steal and a layup. He was fouled on play and hit the free throw. Pierrot then hit a basket to put the Red Raiders up by three.

McKenna hit a jumper to cut the lead to 12-11 with 5:11 left. But Melrose went on an 8-0 run to open up a 20-11 lead. Pierrot sunk two foul shots, Mercer had a steal and a layup, senior Avery Davis got a jumper to fall, and Donovan scored from along the baseline to give the Red Raiders a nine point lead with 2:47 left in the half.

The two teams traded points the rest of the way. McKenna had a steal and layup. Mercer then launched and hit a three-point shot. Carmilla-Smith then recorded a three-point play with field goal and free throw. Pierrot hit a basket and the score was 25-16 at the break.

Wakefield fell behind by 11 and then rallied to take a four point lead by the end of the third quarter. The contest remained close in the fourth quarter until the Warriors pulled away midway through the frame.

David canned a trey to cut the lead down to one, 34-33 with 7:35 left. But Miller deflated Melrose by sinking a trey of his own 17 seconds later to get the lead to four points again. Mercer and McKenna traded baskets before Prendergast sunk one of two foul shots to cut the lead to 39-36.

Miller sunk his third trifecta of the night with 4:07 left and Price sunk two baskets to give the Warriors a 46-36 advantage. Melrose got two baskets from Pierrot and junior forward Dylan Vienot. The final four points were scored by Wakefield. Miller sunk another trey and Price was 1-for-2 from the charity stripe.

Wakefield hosts Burlington tomorrow night at 7 p.m. at the Charbonneau Field House and will look to make it three wins in a row.


WAKEFIELD 50, Melrose 40

At MVMMS Gym, Melrose


WAKEFIELD (50) — Price 3 3 9; McKenna 4 0 8; Nadeau 2 2 6; Miller 4 0 12; Evangelista 4 0 10; Shannon 0 0 0; Carmilla-Smith 1 1 3; DeLeire 1 0 2; Hinchey 0 0 0; Marcus 0 0 0; Cusack 0 0 0. Totals 19 6 50.

Melrose (40) — Vienot 1 0 2; Prendergast 1 1 3; Davis 2 0 5; Donovan 4 0 8; Mercer 5 2 13; Monteiro 0 0 0; Williams 0 0 0; C.Stanton 0 0 0; J.Stanton 0 0 0; Pierrot 3 2 8; Colozzo 0 1 1. Totals 16 6 40.

Score by Quarters — WAKEFIELD 6-10-18-16 — 50. Melrose 7-18-5-10 — 40.

Three-point FGs — Wak, Miller 4, Evangelista 2. Mel, Davis 1, Mercer 1.