ROB COLOZZO and the Melrose Red Raiders finished a winning season this week when they fell to Charlestown in the opening round of the Div. 2 playoffs. (photo by Raj Das edphotos.com)

 

 

Charlestown pulls no punches in 76-64 loss

 


By JENNIFER GENTILE

CHARLESTOWN—The Melrose Red Raider basketball team’s playoff journey ended on Tuesday, March 1 in the opening round of the Div. 2 playoffs when Melrose (#35 seed) fell to Charlestown (#30 seed), 76-64 on the road. The loss ends the season for Melrose while Charlestown will advance to play No. 4 seed Burlington on Thursday.

Charlestown proved tougher than advertised but Melrose brought a crowd that outnumbered the Townie counterparts. A high scoring event, the tempo of the game never relaxed and it was at times a free-wheeling scoring bonanza that often resulted in a slew of Melrose turnovers. Charlestown capitalized on that and took off to early leads of 10-2 and 20-11 thanks to numerous three pointers that kept Melrose out of reach for most of the game. Melrose was led in scoring by junior Cam Lippie and senior Zach Federico, both with 14 points.

Despite the slow start, Melrose would score courtesy of senior Rob Colozzo (7 pts), Owen Dewey (8 pts), Cam Lippie and Zach Federico. The Red Raiders would be down in deficits of 26-11 and 33-16 as the Townies simply ran the floor, capitalizing on Melrose turnovers. The Red Raiders utilized the bench with solid contributions from Miles Nzui was fouled on the three line and sank all three, nice defense from Sage Jones and smart ball handling from freshman John Arens, who assisted on two straight treys by Max Kirby (10 pts) and Owen Dewey. It kept Melrose at pace but down 41-23 at the half.

Cam Lippie had a big third quarter for Melrose with 8 points and some baskets from Max Kirby kept Melrose within range at 54-36. Fortunately, the fourth quarter was Melrose’s best effort of the night and the Red Raiders narrowed the gap at times and kept pace against a relentless Charlestown team, thanks to some great shooting from Federico (11 points in the quarter) along with Max Kirby and Rob Colozzo. The free-wheeling scoring between the two teams, complete with dunk attempts, steals and three pointers was certainly entertaining for the crowd. So, by the time Melrose seniors came off the floor, they were proud to have some of their best work behind them in the quarter. This season, Melrose loses a talented crop of senior starters including captains Zach Federico and Owen Dewey, along with Max Kirby and Rob Colozzo.

 

ELLIS DAVIS is among those expected to lead Melrose in 2023. His Red Raider team fell to Charlestown in the opening round of the Div. 2 playoffs. (photo by Raj Das edphotos.com)

 

“We had great year, we started 1-4 and the seniors really showed true strength and leadership,” said head coach Dan Burns after the game. “We had injuries and COVID would have kept us down. But we fought back.”

Melrose ends a season with a final record of 11-10 that doesn’t exactly reflect Melrose’s talent. The naturally athletic team had many high scoring victories and a well-balanced offense that seemingly did it all: stayed sharp on the foul line, good with treys, strong in the paint and even showcased a dunk or two. All season a super talented bench was ready to step in to contribute. It certainly made for exciting winter nights as a packed stadium of fans can attest. And there’s no reason to think 2023 will be any different. Look for Cam Lippie and Ellis Davis, among others, to use their senior experience for Melrose’s advantage.

Summed up the coach, “I couldn’t be more proud of the team and it was such a privilege for me to coach this group.”