Melrose bounces back in 68-60 victory over Winchester

Published in the January 29, 2016 edition

JULIAN NYLAND had 21 points to help lead Melrose to a critical win on Tuesday against Winchester, 68-60. (Donna Larsson photo) 

JULIAN NYLAND had 21 points to help lead Melrose to a critical win on Tuesday against Winchester, 68-60. (Donna Larsson photo)


MELROSE — The Melrose Red Raider hoop team’s fight for a playoff bid remains after a 68-60 win over Winchester Tuesday night at Winchester High. Melrose senior captain Julian Nyland scored 21 points, nine rebounds and five steals to help the Raiders earn their sixth win of the season.

After the game, Melrose head coach Mike Kasprzak credited the effort. “Julien really led us in all facets of the game. This was a much needed win.”

Along with Nyland, Melrose’s T’Mahri Mercer added 11 points with 8 assists. The Raiders got out to a hot start opening the game on a 14-1 run, and from there, never trailed. The Sachems came within 3 at the start of the fourth quarter but Melrose’s Sean Donovan (9 points) had an important drive to the basket, drawing a foul for a 3 point play that extended the Melrose lead to 6 and kept Winchester at bay for the entirety of the game.

The victory came at the perfect time for Melrose (6-7) who experienced a brief speed bump last week, dropping two games against Middlesex League foes Reading and Woburn. Melrose was coming off a 49-44 victory over Stoneham on Jan. 15 before slipping to the Rockets (6-3) on Jan. 19, 57-42. Leading Melrose were Avery Davis with 15 points and Sean Donovan with 9 points. The Rockets overall proved tough competition with big games from Rockets Johnson Thape (19 pts) and Chris Morullo (16 pts).

On Friday, Jan. 22 Melrose hosted Woburn and lost 65-57, in front of a large home crowd. Melrose fell victim to three pointers during the evening, with a big performance from the Tanner’s Mike Catizone, who shot for 23 points for the evening. Melrose’s Avery Davis led with 16 and Julian Nyland had 8. The Raiders sent Nyland, Sean Prendergast, Devondre Williams, Avery Davis and T’Mahri Mercer to the floor to open of the game and scored first when Mercer fed an assist to Nyland, who hit a three. However, Woburn’s Catizone started a run that would continue throughout the first, earning 8 of the first 11 Tanner points, including two treys. Those three-pointers would be a problem for Melrose over the night with the Tanners throwing a total of 9 (27 points) behind the efforts of Catizone and James Doyle. Melrose fell to a 20-10 deficit at the end of the first despite baskets from Sean Donovan and Avery Davis.

Woburn outscored the Red Raiders 12-6 in the second quarter, thanks in part to forcing Melrose turnovers and the Raiders entered the half, down 32-16. The third quarter proved a strong one for the Raiders, with T’Mahri Mercer pressing the court and setting up a number of Raider baskets by Donovan and Davis. Melrose narrowed the gap to 10 but struggled to keep up with a barrage of three pointers by Catizone and Doyle. By the start of fourth quarter Melrose was down 47-33 but put up a very spirited finish to the game with Avery Davis, T’Mahri Mercer and Devondre Williams closing the gap at 62-54 with a pair of threes (Mercer and Williams) but ultimately Melrose ran out of time to turn the tide.

But by bouncing back on Tuesday, the Raiders helped their fight to return to the familiar home of the MIAA Div. 2 North playoffs. Melrose will continue their hunt when they tackle Middlesex Freedom League teams this week. They get that chance on Friday when they host winless Wilmington at 7 p.m.

Middlesex Freedom Standings

League      Overall

Wakefield       7-3        7-4

Melrose          5-6        6-7

Watertown      4-4        4-5

Stoneham       2-6       4-6

Burlington        1-8       3-9

Wilmington      0-10       0-12

Remaining Schedule

Fri. 1/29 7 p.m. vs. Wilmington

Tues.  2/2 7 p.m. vs. Burlington

Fri. 2/5  7 p.m. @ Wakefield

Tue. 2/9 7 p.m. @ Watertown

Fri. 2/12 7 p.m. vs. Stoneham

Mon. 2/15 5:30 p.m. vs. Lynnfield

Thu. 2/18 5 p.m. @ Chelsea