Pioneers (8-2) win in NR, travel to Pentucket on Friday

Published in the January 17, 2018 edition

SENIOR CO-CAPTAIN Dan Jameson blocks a Hornet shot during Lynnfield’s 65-60 road win over North Reading on Friday night. The Pioneers have relied on the multi-faceted Jameson, a good scorer and passer, to especially play strong interior defense and rebound. (John Friberg Photo)


LYNNFIELD — The Lynnfield boys’ basketball team hung on for a wild 65-63 double overtime victory on Martin Luther King Jr. Day to defeat Triton at LHS. It was the fourth consecutive victory for the Pioneers who also notched W’s against Amesbury and North Reading last week. The Pioneers (8-2) are now 7-1 in league play, tied with Newburyport for first in the Kinney Division.

After a back-and-forth game featuring plenty of excitement and big shots on both sides, the Pioneers held on for a massive two-point win.

“That’s a good high school basketball game,” said LHS head coach Scott MacKenzie. “We’re very aware of who we are. We’re a flawed team that has found ways to win basketball games. It makes it fun. We have to find points in transition and defensively we’re so small we have to switch on everything.”

The Vikings put towering center Jared Drouin on the block early to try to make a statement but Lynnfield’s senior co-captain Danny Jameson played him tough and it wasn’t long before Triton naturally shifted to a perimeter shooting attack.

SENIOR CO-CAPTAIN Zack Shone drives past a Triton defender on his way to two of his team-high 24 points for the Pioneers during their 65-63 win over the Vikings on MLK day at LHS. (Dan Pawlowski Photo)

The Pioneer offense had some trouble with Triton’s 2-3 zone and it was a struggle to score, especially in the opening quarter. One of senior co-captain Zack Shone’s early buckets of his team-high 24 points came in the waning seconds of the quarter limiting the damage to a 12-7 score, but the Vikings won the frame with smothering defense and pure energy from their bench, who could be characterized as the loudest in the league in combination between both coaches and players.

The Pioneers found their groove in the 2nd, outscoring the Vikings 20-17 with balanced scoring from Jason Ndansi, Matt Mortellite, and threes from Shone, Jameson, senior co-captain Billy Arseneault and Jack Cleary.

The Pioneers were hot and cold in this one but towards the end of the 3rd and into the 4th, they were able to get out in transition and attack; something that this team needs to do (and has) in order to be successful, especially when teams are double teaming Arseneault, the reigning CAL MVP.

“We like to have the ball in Bill’s hands,” said MacKenzie. “At some point in time it was going to break down a little bit. We had some possessions in the 2nd half where we weren’t able to find him so we needed to stretch the floor in transition, and keep running. Even if we didn’t get anything it was going to tire them out.”

Arseneault is also the type of player who recognizes those situations and is confident in his teammates enough to make the right play. That requires other players to step up, and Shone was the man in this one. The small forward went hard to the cup again for a 47-40 lead in the fourth. It was a play that appeared to give control to the Pioneers but Triton’s captain Will Parsons hit big three after big three late, even with excellent close-out defense from Ndansi and others.

With 17 seconds left, the Vikings had the ball up 52-51. They broke Lynnfield’s press and decided to attack the rim. Good defense from Jameson forced a miss and Arseneault found Shone up the court with time winding down. Shone was fouled and sent to the line with 3.3 left. He hit 1 out of 2 to force OT.

In the first overtime, Triton used the long ball to take a quick six point lead but Lynnfield battled back and four points from Jameson helped them force a second OT, where the Pioneers took control behind five points from Arseneault who finally broke free when it mattered most to help Lynnfield win it 65-63.

In the end, it was a bit hectic, but the five Pioneer senior starters (Shone, Jameson, Arseneault, Ndansi, Mortellite) have played in these before, and MacKenzie relied on them to bring it home.

“The seniors have been here before, they’ve battled,” said MacKenzie. “Every one of those kids has played in a big game for us so we want to rely on them.”

Beat North Reading

The Pioneers used a big second quarter effort to propel them to a victory over the Hornets in North Reading on Friday night. It was another classic battle between the two rivals, but Lynnfield was able to hold on for the win.

“The score was probably indicative of what the game was,” said MacKenzie. “They are real similar to us. They want to get out and run, push ball sideline and we had a really good run in the 2nd quarter and so that was what won us the game. We had enough of a cushion with a double digit lead where we made some mistakes blocking out, but there wasn’t enough possessions in the game for them to come back and win it.”

The Pioneers were led in the 2nd quarter by Mortellite who had six points in the frame. Mortellite finished with 12. Areseneault led the team with 25 points and Shone had 16. 

Lynnfield travels to Pentucket on Friday night before returning home to face Ipswich on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.