Published in the February 8, 2017 edition
By DAVID McCOUBREY
LYNNFIELD — With 12 games down and seven to go, the boys’ basketball team continues to wreak havoc on the Cape Ann League, improving to 12-0 (12-1 overall) with a home win over the Pentucket Sachems, 77-64, Jan. 31.
After a gutsy, low scoring affair against Triton, where the Pioneers only manage 52 points, Lynnfield’s offense showed up in a big way, besting their season points per game average by 12. And in the first quarter, the Pioneers got off to a hot start with 18 points, while holding Pentucket to just seven with swarming team defense.
On several defensive trips, Lynnfield forced Pentucket into wild long range shots deep into the shot clock. An excellent shooting team, Pentucket was completely stifled in the first eight minutes.
The rest of the game was a different story, however, as the Sachems found their stroke and according to head coach Scott MacKenzie, the Pioneers’ defense became lackadaisical.
“We were atrocious for three quarters, and print it,” he said. “We were terrible.”
Starting in the second quarter, those Pentucket 3-pointers started to fall, causing MacKenzie to burn a timeout at the six minute mark when the Sachems cut the lead to 24-17.
“I thought tonight we were lazy in spurts. I thought we were super undisciplined in spurts. And that type of defense right there, that is losing team defense,” said MacKenzie.
Ellis dons his cape
Luckily for Lynnfield, they have senior forward Lou Ellis, who almost single-handedly kept Pentucket from taking over the lead. He scored 15 points in the third quarter and 29 overall, continuing an incredible recent run of games, averaging just over 22 points in his last four. His sharpshooting in the third kept Pentucket at bay, even as the Sachems continued to shoot the lights out, pulling within six at the three minute mark of the third, 53-47.
Senior forward Bryant Dana looked to seal a victory, though, with a buzzer beater to end the third, putting Lynnfield comfortably ahead 66-51.
Junior guard William Arseneault also turned in another good game, adding 15 points. It’s clear that he and Ellis are making their mark in the Cape Ann League this season.
“I think they’re the two best players in the league,” said MacKenzie. “It’s a nice luxury as a coach to be able to turn the ball over to Billy and just let him work and create offense. And then Lou decided to take it upon himself in the third quarter to keep this thing moving forward. They’re both very talented basketball players.”
As well as Ellis and Arseneault played, filling up the stat sheet, sometimes the game is won in the trenches. Senior forward William Klotzbier, filling in for a couple of injured Pioneers, did the nitty gritty hustle work that set the tone for a physical game. He scored nine points, but more importantly, put his body on the line in the paint, grabbing rebounds and diving for loose balls. Early in the third, Pentucket had cut the lead to five points, at 39-34, when Klotzbier laid out for a loose ball on the elbow and managed to tip it to an open Ellis, who drained a huge three.
MacKenzie said, “That’s what he does. He plays with so much energy and so much reckless abandon. When we look at the offensive film, Willie working the offensive glass is going to be a real positive.”
Even in the win, MacKenzie was not particularly pleased with his squad, especially on defense. But he doesn’t think that just because the Pioneers are undefeated in the league and have earned a trip to the tournament, that the team is looking past the remaining games of the regular season.
“We’ve got something at stake,” MacKenzie said. “We’re looking to win a league title. But as we’ve shown tonight, we’re not good enough to just roll out the ball and play. We’re not.”
Offensive explosion silences Chieftains
The basketball team keeps on rolling as they thumped Masconomet 81-55 on the road on Friday.
Lynnfield has turned into something of an offensive juggernaut, and they got out to a blistering pace in the first half, leading the Chieftains 49-20 at the break. The key for the Pioneers was scoring in transition.
Head coach Scott MacKenzie said, “There were large stretches of the game where we didn’t run sets because of our transition offense. We spent a great deal of practice time coordinating our break and it’s great to see it carrying over into games.”
Lynnfield shot 53 percent from the field thanks in large part to their big three. Lou Ellis led the way with 20 points, including six of nine from the 3-point line. When he gets going there may be no better pure shooter in the Cape Ann League.
Billy Arseneault nearly posted a double-double, scoring 18 points and dishing out nine assists. And big man Mike Carangelo, a rangy scorer and a menace on defense, chipped in 13 points, two blocks and six rebounds.
When these three have it going, Lynnfield possesses the ability to stretch the floor with excellent shooting in Ellis, a playmaker who can score and find others for good looks at the basket in Arseneault, and a low post presence who can snatch rebounds and shut down the opponent’s big men in Carangelo.
MacKenzie said, “When Lou and Mike and Billy are on their respective games, we are an extremely tough team to guard.”
The second half saw Lynnfield take their foot off the gas defensively. With such a large lead at the half, the defensive urgency wasn’t there, and Masco managed 35 points in the second half, a total with which MacKenzie wasn’t thrilled.
“Unfortunately there are still some holes to fill on the defensive end,” he said. “We played a very disciplined and smart first half, but the third quarter was a mess for us. We need to get our defensive act together down the stretch because the level of competition is going to pick up considerably.”
That may prove true in the tournament, for which the Pioneers have already qualified. But right now they continue to dominate the Cape Ann League as the regular season starts to wind down.
The team has a week-long break before its next game on Friday night, Feb. 10 against rival North Reading High School. Tip off is 6:30 p.m. at LHS.
On Sunday, Feb. 12, Cardinal Spellman visits the Pioneer gymnasium for a noon start.
LHS will play its third consecutive home game next Tuesday, Feb. 14 against Triton at 6:30 p.m.