Published March 5, 2020

JUNIOR CAPTAIN Will Taylor scored a game-high 20 points against Amesbury on Friday night. Taylor was recently named to the CAL All League All-Star team. (Dan Pawlowski Photo)

AMESBURY — The 10th-seeded NRHS boys’ basketball team traveled to Amesbury on Friday night for a quarterfinal matchup against the 2nd-seeded Indians.

The Hornets, who defeated Amesbury 64-54 on Dec. 18, were coming off a 69-54 victory over Greater Lawrence in the first round Feb. 24.

Sophomore Cody Cannalonga (17 points) and junior captain Will Taylor (15) led the way over the Reggies in a game that featured 64 foul shots. North Reading was 26-of-42 from the line but they hit them down the stretch to seal a victory.

Cannalonga and Taylor were both recently named Cape Ann League All-Stars. Taylor was named to the All League team.

With essentially two different teams from their early-season matchup, North Reading and Amesbury played a tough game in a standing-room only environment. The Hornet student section may have been divided as they had to stand on opposite corners of the court, but they were still united.

The crowd helped Amesbury get off to a quick 11-5 start in which the Hornets struggled to get into a rhythm.

Taylor had a monster first quarter, scoring eight of his team-high 20 points in the opening frame to bring NR back as they took a 14-11 lead. Amesbury hit a late 3 to make it 14-14 after one.

THE HORNETS played in a packed house at Amesbury High on Friday night. North Reading had a hard time containing Kyle Donovan (5) in the paint. The Amesbury junior scored a team-high 16 points and collected four blocks and plenty of rebounds leading the home team to a 62-45 win. (Dan Pawlowski Photo)

The Hornets got into some foul trouble to start the second quarter and didn’t score in the first five minutes. Amesbury outscored North Reading 13-4 in the quarter and took a 27-18 lead into the break.

The home team’s lead jumped up to as many as 13 before the Hornets went on a 7-0 run sparked by Taylor who had seven points in the quarter.

Amesbury followed that up with a run of their own throughout the end of the third and into the fourth, pushing the lead back to 14 thanks in part to an inside presence as they dominated on the glass and in the paint as they ended up winning 62-45.

Amesbury went on to play talented No. 11 seed Weston in the semifinals on Wednesday night after press time.

The Hornets finished the season 13-9. What stood out was their ability to bounce back from a slow start. North Reading was 4-7 at one point with a trip to the tournament seemingly out of range. Rather than call it a season, the Hornets went on an epic run, winning 9 of their last 11 regular season games.

“This was one of the best groups of kids we have had here,” said head coach Joe Casey. “It was a testament to our ability to persevere. I couldn’t be happier with what we accomplished this season. It’s been fun.”

In addition to the accolades for Taylor and Cannalonga, the Hornets earned the CAL’s team Sportsmanship Award.