By Dan Harrison
---- — MARBLEHEAD — In terms of hot teams, the Marblehead boys basketball team is one to watch out for entering the Division 2 State Tournament.
After a thrilling, overtime victory over Manchester Essex on Tuesday, the Magicians pulled out a 48-43 win over Concord-Carlisle in the Brad Sheridan Memorial Tournament Championship.
The Patriots are 18-2 after the loss and considered one of the top Division 2 teams in the Central Region.
“This was big for us coming off a very poor showing last week against Danvers,” explained Marblehead (11-9) head coach Mike Giardi. “(Tuesday) we got the overtime win we haven’t really had. (Tuesday) catapulted us and now we’ll see who we draw.”
The Magicians played extremely solid zone defense throughout the contest and at times made a very good Patriots team look average offensively.
But a four-point second quarter sent Marblehead into halftime down 24-14. The hole wasn’t ideal but proved hardly insurmountable.
“I looked up at scoreboard and we’re giving up 24 points and I’m thinking that’s pretty good. But then I look on our side,” said Giardi. “I felt we were panicked and we took quick shots. We needed to catch our breath and find our way and we did that.”
The Magicians evened the score going into the final eight minutes after holding CC to just six points in the third quarter.
“In a game like this every play is big and every basket is big,” said Patriots coach David Cohen. “It’s almost like every basket counts double.”
In the fourth quarter, senior Matt Millett (15 points) made a few big plays that really turned the game in Marblehead’s favor. Millett finished with five points in the fourth quarter and a big steal close to the end of the game when CC had possession down just three points.
Giardi, spoke about Millett’s extra gear in crunch time.
“That’s one of his strong suits. He looks like he’s tired but he’s not,” noted Giardi. “I think football was good for him playing quarterback in a no-huddle offense. In the fourth quarter (now) he can explode by people.”
One of the big reasons for the offensive turnaround at halftime was Marblehead’s determination to get the ball down low and really establish a post presence. Ryan Himes scored all eight of his points in the second half and even guard Spencer Craig backed his man into the paint for a few nice buckets.
Even when the Magicians missed a shot the other guys were able to rebound much better offensively in the second half. Will Millett (nine points), Cian Saunders and Himes all rebounded well in the offensive end.