Team enjoys a 2-1 week against Freedom rivals
Published in the January 15, 2016 edition
By JENNIFER GENTILE
MELROSE — The Melrose Red Raider basketball team went 2-1 in league play over the last week, earning two key wins against Burlington and Wakefield before falling to Watertown on Tuesday. At 5-4 Melrose looks forward to continued league play this week.
It started last Friday with a thrilling home victory and key league win over Wakefield, 51-47, at the Melrose Veterans Memorial Middle School Gymnasium. Melrose’s T’Mahri Mercer led with 20 points for the Red Raiders (5-4), who were coming off a 81-71 win over Burlington on Jan. 5. It was a jam-packed and spirited crowd for the first meeting between an always-competitive Wakefield (5-4). Fans watched as Melrose took leads of 5-0 and 15-11 in the first quarter and held on to a 25-21 lead at halftime. Most of the scoring was done by Mercer and senior captain Julian Nyland (8 points).
Melrose outshot Wakefield in the third quarter but the Warriors fought a hard fourth with 16 points – though the Raiders matched that with 15, which helped them maintain their lead. The Warriors narrowed the game early in the fourth quarter, pulling within two points. An offensive rebound and basket by Melrose’s Sean Prendergast closed the deal at the buzzer and put Melrose ahead, 51-47 for the win.
On Tuesday, Jan. 12 Melrose hosted a surprisingly tough Watertown team and fell, 53-43. Melrose was hard pressed to stop Watertown senior Derek DiPietrantonio, who had a double double for Watertown (3-4). Melrose was led in scoring by senior captain Julian Nyland (14 points) and Avery Davis (12 points). Melrose started the game strong, showing outstanding defense with James Liles, T’Mahri Mercer and Julian Nyland shutting down Watertown offense, and forcing turnovers that gave Melrose leads of 4-0 and 10-5. Sean Prendergast helped Melrose extend their lead at 12-6 while also turning up a number of rebounds while Avery Davis went on a run with 6 second quarter points. Watertown, however, showed their prowess at the foul line, going 5-6 in attempts that gave them an eventual 20-16 advantage. Nyland kept Melrose toe-to-toe with a trey but Watertown’s DiPietrantonio went on a tear, helping his team to a 20 point quarter. The half ended with Melrose down 28-25. The Red Raiders were outscored 10-8 in the third and fell 38-33, despite a trey from Mercer. Melrose lost the rebound game in the fourth and fell victim to turnovers, unable to close the score any tighter than 40-35 and 47-43, despite some fine shooting and forced turnovers from Nyland. Melrose ultimately fell 53-43.
They look to rebound this Friday at 5 p.m. when they travel to Stoneham for another league game.