Published in the March 16, 2016 edition

SENIOR CAPTAIN Brendan Sullivan (3) scored 18 points during the Pioneers’ 65-62 loss to Bedford in the Division 3 North finals at Woburn Memorial High School March 12. (Dan Tomasello Photo)

SENIOR CAPTAIN Brendan Sullivan (3) scored 18 points during the Pioneers’ 65-62 loss to Bedford in the Division 3 North finals at Woburn Memorial High School March 12. (Dan Tomasello Photo)


WOBURN — The boys’ basketball team’s magical season came to an end on March 12, when the second seeded Pioneers fell 65-62 to fifth seed Bedford in the Division 3 North finals at Woburn Memorial High School.

The Pioneers concluded the 2015-2016 season with an overall record of 18-5.

“You don’t know what to say to the kids in times like this, but I said to them it was fun game to play in,” said Pioneers head coach Scott MacKenzie. “And if you were a fan in the stands, it was worth the $7.”

Lynnfield trailed Bedford 62-53 with just over three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter when the Pioneers went on a late run. Junior Mike Carangelo managed to find senior Tucker Torosian for a driving lay-up, cutting Bedford’s lead to five, 62-57.

After Bedford went 1-2 at the free throw line, senior captain Brendan Sullivan missed a three-pointer. Bedford was fouled on the next possession and senior captain Matthew Timperio went 1-2 at the line, making the game 65-58 with less than a minute remaining in the fourth quarter.

Undaunted, sophomore Billy Arseneault hit a contested jumper at the top of the key, making the game 65-60. Arseneault hit another jump shot on Lynnfield’s next possession, making the game 65-62 with 12.8 seconds remaining in the game.

Bedford was fouled on its next possession and missed a one-and-one attempt. Arseneault took a contested three-pointer from the top of the key that was off the mark. Junior Mike Carangelo managed to grab the rebound under the hoop but time expired as he was dribbling out to the three-point line to get off a late shot.

“We got punched in the face when we down 8-0 in the first quarter and we were able to respond,” said MacKenzie. “The fellas knew we had an opportunity to win the game.”

The Buccaneers jumped out to an early 8-0 lead in the first quarter. The Pioneers managed to claw their way back into the game and trailed Bedford 12-11 at the end of the first quarter.

Bedford opened the second quarter by going on a 6-0 run, giving the Buccaneers an 18-11 lead. Sullivan cut Bedford’s lead to five after drilling a mid-range jumper.

Bedford managed to take a 27-21 lead at the break.

“We didn’t really play well in the first half but it was still a two possession game,” said MacKenzie. “The guys were excited and were talking about it too.”

The Pioneers came roaring out of the gate during the third quarter. Sullivan opened the third quarter by converting a floater and a three-pointer, making the game 27-26. Sullivan added a lay-up, giving the Pioneers a 28-27 lead.

Senior captain Jake McHugh converted a lay-up after receiving a pass from Sullivan. Arseneault and Sullivan then hit back-to-back three pointers, giving the Pioneers a 36-33 lead.

Bedford was quick to respond by drilling a three-pointer, tying the game at 36. Arseneault followed the Buccaneers’ three by connecting on a shot from downtown, giving Lynnfield a 39-36 lead.

Bedford fired right back by drilling another three-pointer, tying the game at 39.

Carangelo hit two free throws with 1:46 remaining in the third quarter, giving the Pioneers a 41-39 lead. Bedford responded by drilling a three-pointer on the next possession, giving the Buccaneers a 42-41 lead.

On the next possession, Arseneault found an open Torosian, giving Lynnfield a 43-42 lead.

Bedford responded by converting another three-pointer and a lay-up down the stretch, giving the Buccaneers a 47-43 lead at the end of the third quarter.

The Buccaneers opened the fourth quarter by going on a 7-4 run to take a 54-47 lead.

Sullivan helped the locals get back into the game by draining consecutive three-pointers, making the game 56-53.

Bedford went on a run to take a 62-53 lead before the Pioneers made a late rally down the stretch.

MacKenzie said the inside-out game of junior center Thomas Greaney and junior guard Cameron Shelmire, coupled with the Buccaneers’ long-range shooting, ended up being the difference in the game.

“We had to close them out from literally 10 feet behind the three-point line,” said MacKenzie. “They made three consecutive threes from five or six feet behind the line. You can’t defend that. I give Bedford all of the credit in the world. They’re an incredibly talented basketball team.”

Arseneault scored a career-high 18 points against Bedford.

“Billy is a fantastic player,” said MacKenzie. “Everybody who watches him knows that. He is so skilled. Billy was just as loose today as he is at a pick-up game at the Peabody Y. He is just unflappable, which is an ability most kids don’t have. If you ask Bill, this was the most dialed in offensively as he has been. He normally doesn’t take threes but he took a few. He hit some contested jump shots. Billy was remarkable in the second half and he was one of the reasons we went from nine down to keep the game within an-arms reach. What a fantastic future that kid has.”

Sullivan finished with 18 points and played an excellent defensive game once again.

“For a kid like Brendan, his career had to end at some point,” said MacKenzie. “I hoped he would have gone out with a win. But I am happy he had a day like he had today, where all of his talents came out. He made shots, big plays and stuck his nose in with the bigs and got dirty. He is a once-in-a-career kid. I am just so proud of him.”

Junior Mike Carangelo scored eight points against the Buccaneers.

Senior Tucker Torosian finished with four points.

“Tucker plays well every game,” said MacKenzie.

Junior Louis Ellis had three points against Bedford.

Senior captain Jake McHugh finished with two points against Bedford.

“Jake battles,” said MacKenzie. “He has been with me for four years and is somebody I can lean on a daily basis to practice the right way and to play the right way. There has never been an instance in Jake’s career where he has demonstrated anything but a team attitude.”

MacKenzie also commended senior Esaie Philantrope’s defensive performance against Bedford. He said Philantrope was a valuable member of the Pioneers this season.

“Esaie doesn’t live an easy life,” said MacKenzie. “He leaves his house at 5 a.m. and doesn’t get home until 10 p.m. all because he wants to play basketball and be part of the team. I wouldn’t want to work as hard as he does or have as long of a day as he does. He accepted his role and did a nice job.”

While senior Cam DeGeorge did not play against Bedford, MacKenzie said the leadership he provided this winter was incredibly valuable.

“(DeGeorge) came in and took the end of the bench under his wing,” said MacKenzie. “That is what a leader does.”

MacKenzie said all five seniors will be missed greatly.

“From a replacement standpoint, and it has nothing to do with how they play, they’re monumental shoes to fill,” said MacKenzie. “And that is a good thing. It’s a challenge for the younger guys.”

MacKenzie said he is incredibly proud of what the Pioneers accomplished this season.

“I said to Tucker the other day, I want to win so I get to spend more time with you guys,” said MacKenzie. “It’s a really fun and cohesive group and the locker room is a riot. It’s fun. I am not somebody who worries about career win-loss records. The relationships I have established with this group are going to last forever. I am proud to be their coach.”