Boy cagers upset bid falls short with 83-79 setback to Salem

COREY IMBRIANO, a senior, dribbled the ball up the floor during Wakefield’s tournament game against Salem. Despite a valiant effort by the Warriors, top-seeded Salem ended Wakefield’s season in the Div. 2 North quarterfinals. (Donna Larsson Photo)

COREY IMBRIANO, a senior, dribbled the ball up the floor during Wakefield’s tournament game against Salem. Despite a valiant effort by the Warriors, top-seeded Salem ended Wakefield’s season in the Div. 2 North quarterfinals. (Donna Larsson Photo)

Published in the March 8, 2016 edition.


SALEM — Slowing down top-seeded Salem proved to be nearly impossible. However, the Wakefield High Memorial boys’ basketball team did a pretty darn good job of keeping up with the Witches.

In the end, the Warriors didn’t have quite enough.

The Middlesex League Freedom division champion Warriors gave the Northeast Conference Small division champs all they could handle in front of a large crowd on hand for a Div. 2 North quarterfinal game last night at the Veterans Memorial Field House at Salem High School, but had their season come to an end with an 83-79 overtime loss to the Witches.

The two teams were tied at 71-71 after regulation. But in the four minute overtime session, a couple of inopportune turnovers and missed shots resulted in Salem pulling away down the stretch. Despite battling to the final seconds of the extra session, Wakefield (13-7) was unable to catch Salem (20-2) in time.

“That was a great high school game,” said coach Brad Simpson. “We had two turnovers in that overtime. We were concerned about staying in control. But they got the deflections and steals down the stretch.”

Wakefield did a pretty good job of handling Salem’s speed and defensive pressure. In fact, Salem come out of that defense at times and played a zone.

The Warriors had a career game from senior center Andrew Auld scored a team high 35 points as he netted 20 in the first half alone. With the Witches having a lack of size, Auld dominated the low post and proved to a be mismatch for whichever Salem player was defending him. Auld even showed the ability to shoot the outside shot as he canned a trey late in the overtime session.

“Andrew Auld had a career game,” said Simpson. “Everybody played well. I’m very disappointed (with the final result).”

While Auld was the catalyst for the Warriors, senior guard Alex Sanchez was the engine that drove the Witches. Sanchez scored a game high 39 points as he consistently drove to the basket and made it look easy against whichever Warrior was defending him.

The score was tied at 71-71 headed into the overtime session.

After a miss by senior guard, Kelven Perpetuo (10 points), Auld grabbed the rebound. But a turnover led to Rick Arias, a sophomore guard, scoring a layup with 3:40 left. After a Wakefield turnover and miss by Arias, junior Alex McKenna came away with rebound.

Senior guard Corey Imbriano (10 points) sank a three-point shot to give Wakefield a 74-73 lead with 2:50 left.

But Salem went on to score the next six points to open up an 80-74 advantage.

Sanchez missed a layup and Auld got the rebound. On other end of the floor, Auld missed a shot. Sanchez hit a jumper to put the Witches in front, 75-74, with 2:06 left.

After a miss by senior forward Tighe Beck (four points) on a cutter to the basket, senior guard Joel Nunez (seven points) put back a missed shot to give Salem a 77-74 lead with 1:32 left.

Imbriano drove to the basket to try and score a layup but it appeared to many (especially on the Wakefield side) that he was fouled while going to the basket. But there was no call and senior forward Jhonel Roberts (21 points) sank his sixth three-point shot of the night to give the Witches an 80-74 lead with 56 seconds left.

Auld responded with a three-pointer of his own with 35 seconds left to cut the lead to 80-77 and then Wakefield began fouling to preserve the clock. Sanchez made two free throws with 28 seconds left to put the score at 82-77. After another Warrior turnover and two misses from the charity stripe by Sanchez, Auld scored Wakefield’s final basket of the game with five seconds left to cut the score down to 82-79.

But Roberts was fouled immediately and made one of two free throws to account for the final score.

“It didn’t come down to the who had the ball last but the team that scored last won the game,” said Simpson.

The game was close throughout as both teams battled in what can only be described an instant high school tournament classic basketball game.

Roberts hit a three-pointer, Sanchez sank two foul shots and then the senior standout hit a jumper for a 7-0 Salem lead with 6:28 left in the first quarter.

But Auld scored a three-point play with a baseline field goal and free throw to get Wakefield on the scoreboard.

Perpetuo hit a shot from beyond the arc for a 10-3 Salem lead.

But junior forward Kobey Nadeau (18 points) recorded a layup with 4:47 left and then Auld scored the next five points with two field goals and a foul shot to tie the game at 10-10 with 3:45 left in the opening period.

Perpetuo made one of two foul shots and then junior Zach Price scored a basket on a pass from Auld give Wakefield its first lead of the game, 12-11, with 3:19 remaining.

Sanchez made a layup and Auld scored the next eight points for the Warriors. Perpetuo hit a three-pointer and Sanchez made a pair of baskets as the score was tied at 20-20 after one quarter. Auld finished the first quarter with 16 of the 20 points scored by Wakefield.

Auld scored the first basket of the second quarter but Perpetuo scored an inside basket and Roberts canned a trey to give Salem a 25-22 lead with 6:01 left in the half.

McKenna (eight points) recorded a layup and then Roberts sank another trifecta to give the Witches a 28-24 lead with 5:32 left in the second.

Price made a field goal while being fouled and Imbriano sank two foul shots to tie the game at 28-28 with 4:28 left in the first half.

Sanchez made a layup, Nadeau scored a field goal, Arias hit a perimeter shot, McKenna made a layup, Roberts hit a jumper and McKenna made a layup with 1:28 left to tie the score at 34-all as the two clubs traded points.

Sanchez made consecutive layups to give the Witches a 38-34 lead. But Auld scored from the baseline in the waning seconds to cut the lead to 38-36 in favor of Salem at halftime.

Wakefield went on a 7-0 run to begin the third quarter to take a 43-38 lead. Nadeau got a jumper to fall, Imbriano canned a trey and Auld put back a missed shot to give the Warriors a five point lead with 6:24 left in the third period.

Nunez hit a three-pointer before Auld sank two fouls shots and Nadeau recorded a layup with 4:49 left to give the Warriors a six point lead, 47-41.

Sanchez scored the next six points with two layups and two free throws to tie the game at 47-47 with 3:15 left in the third.

Wakefield regained the lead on a Nadeau basket with 1:44 left but Sanchez recorded a layup and Nunez made one of three free throws to give the Witches a 50-49 lead with 1:14 left in the third.

Beck sank a jumper and Auld scored on a pass from Imbriano in the final minute to put Wakefield up 53-49. But Sanchez drove to the basket and scored right before the buzzer as the Warriors had a 53-52 edge after three quarters.

The fourth quarter was a battle for supremacy to win the game. But neither team was going to go down without a fight.

Auld made a field goal but missed the subsequent free throw. Beck then made a jumper to put the Warriors up 57-52 with 7:22 left in regulation.

But Sanchez scored on a pair of layups to lead to one point. Nadeau cut to the basket for a two point field goal and then Roberts canned a trey to tie the game at 59-59 with 6:13 left. Sanchez then made a basket and free throw to give Salem a 62-59 advantage.

Auld scored then Nunez missed the front end of a one-and-one. McKenna scored on a cutter to the basket with Auld making the pass to put the Warriors in front by one, 63-62, with 5:12 left.

Senior forward Mike Kazadi recorded a basket on a layup, Perpetuo hit one of two foul shots and Sanchez sank two free throws to put the Witches in front, 67-63 with 3:54 left.

Nadeau hit a trey and then sank one of two foul shots on two straight trips up the floor to tie the game at 67-67 with 2:39 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Sanchez missed with Auld getting the rebound. However Wakefield was unable to take advantage as Beck missed the front end of a one-and-one with 2:01 left. After a Nunez miss and Beck rebound, Imbriano drove to the basket for the layup to put the Warriors in front, 69-67, with 1:30 left.

But Roberts got a three-point bomb to fall to put the Witches in front, 70-69, with 1:20 left.

Nadeau recorded a layup with 1:02 left to give Wakefield a one point lead, 71-70.

After a pair of misses by Sanchez and Nunez, the ball went out of bounds with Salem being awarded possession of the ball. Nunez was then fouled and made one of two foul shots with 44 seconds left to tie the score at 71-all.

Auld got the rebound on the missed free throw but the ball was tied up on the Warrior end of the floor with the possession arrow point to Wakefield for possession. After inbounding the ball, a turnover gave the Witches the ball back to set up for the last shot. But Sanchez’s pull-up jumper was off the mark as the two teams headed for overtime.

The two league champions battled for the extra four minutes but in the end Wakefield came up short.

Salem will face Brighton (15-8) in a Div. 2 North semifinal game on Thursday night at 7 p.m. at Beverly High School. Wakefield, meanwhile, had a terrific 2015-16 season come to an end.

“It’s tough because this is the end of the careers for a special group of seniors,” said Simpson.

Wrapping up their high school basketball careers were seniors Alex Fils-Aime, Beck, Imbriano, Jonathan Miller, Auld and Paul McGunigle.


Div. 2 North

Boys’ Basketball Tournament

Quarterfinal Round

At Veterans Memorial Field House, Salem

Salem 83, WAKEFIELD 79 (OT)


WAKEFIELD (79) — Nadeau 8 1 18; Beck 2 0 4; Auld 15 4 35; Imbriano 3 2 10; J.Miller 0 0 0; Price 2 0 4; McKenna 4 0 8; Evangelista 0 0 0; A.Miller 0 0 0. Totals 34 7 79.

Salem (83) — Roberts 7 1 21; Sanchez 15 9 39; Nunez 2 2 7; Arias 2 0 4; Perpetuo 3 2 10; Vlaun 0 0 0; Kazadi 1 0 2. Totals 30 14 83.

Score by Quarters — WAKEFIELD 20-16-17-18-8 — 79. Salem 20-18-14-19-12 — 83.

Three-point FGs — Wak, Imbriano 2, Nadeau 1, Auld 1. Sal, Roberts 6, Perpetuo 2, Nunez 1.