THE HORNET faithful celebrated their boys’ basketball seniors during a 68-62 win over Ipswich on Feb. 7. (NRHS Athletics Photo)



NORTH READING — The NRHS boys’ basketball team won their fifth game in eight days with a road 71-57 win over Triton on Friday night. The victory officially punched North Reading’s ticket to the state tournament as they improved to 10-6.

It is the 3rd year in a row and the 16th time in head coach Joe Casey’s tenure that the Hornets have qualified for the postseason.

“What these kids have accomplished this week is a testament to their resilience and their character,” said Casey. “Winning five games in eight days is unheard of. One of our team goals before the season was to qualify for postseason play and I couldn’t be happier for everyone involved in the program.”

Cody Cannalonga, who become the third ever Hornet to score 1,000 career points on Feb. 5 at the TD Garden, dropped 25 against the Vikings. Andrew Boulas added 20 points.

Triton opened on a tear with a 13-0 start in the first quarter. The Hornets closed the gap towards the end of the first with hoops from Quinn Riesenberg, Cannalonga and Logan Scribner to go on an 8-2 run but were still down 17-8 after one.

Boulas single handedly got NR back into in the second quarter by hitting five 3 pointers. The Hornets took a lead for the first time but a Triton buzzer beater 3 gave them a 34-33 lead at the break.

The third quarter was a back and forth affair but Cannalonga went to work with 11 points in the quarter and Hornets switched to a 2-3 zone which slowed down the Triton attack.

Savino Morelli had a strong game inside and dominated taller opponents on the glass as the Hornets took a 49-48 lead after three.

North Reading’s full court pressure swallowed up Triton’s offense in the 4th as buckets from Scribner, Cannalonga and Rubino helped the lead balloon to as much as 16.

On Feb. 8, the Hornets beat Pentucket 61-58. North Reading got off to another slow start as the visitors took a 6-0 lead but Boulas kept NR in it with 6 of his game-high 24 points and and a late Riesenberg 3 made it 14-13 NR after one.

The score was tied 24-24 at the half.

The Hornet defense clamped down in the third, holding Pentucket to 7 points in the frame. A balanced attack from Riesenberg (10 points), Boulas and Cannalonga (19 points), Morelli and Rubino helped NR take a 38-31 lead after three.

Pentucket’s All-League Nick Daly kept his team in it with 20 in the fourth but NR would hold on thanks to 10 from Cannalonga in the final quarter and 9 from Boulas.

On Senior Night, North Reading beat Ipswich 68-62. Cannalonga went off for 30 points including 7 3 pointers. Boulas had 17 and Riesenberg had 11.

The Hornets honored Cannalonga, Riesenberg, John Jennings, Brian McKenna, Daniel Murnane, Ryan Baker and Ryan Tyrrell before the game.

“This was a good win on senior night,” said Casey. “Our seven seniors have been instrumental in our success over the last three years. This is a great group of kids who I have been fortunate enough to coach.”

The Hornets poured in 6 3’s in the second quarter from Cannalonga (3), Riesenberg (2) and Boulas as they took a 38-25 lead into halftime.

Ipswich made a run in the fourth but Cannalonga went 3-for-4 on free throws down the stretch as the Hornets survived for the win.

North Reading moved 11-6 with a 83-55 road win over Wilmington, their 6th in a row, on Tuesday after press time. They played at Shawsheen on Wednesday after press time.