SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Sports

December 24, 2013

In The Paint: Beverly aims to defend title, build rivalries in holiday tourney

In the Paint

Matt Jenkins

The Beverly and Masconomet boys basketball teams developed a decent rivalry in the Beverly Invitational over the past few years. Unfortunately, that holiday tournament meeting has come to end — but Scott Lewis and the Panthers hope a new local rivalry could begin this season.

Bishop Fenwick has taken over the empty spot left behind by Masconomet, which dropped out of the holiday tournament after playing in it for three years. Boston Latin and Bishop Fenwick will kick off this year’s tournament on Friday night, with Beverly and Chelsea meeting in the second game.

The Panthers have won two of their first three tournaments, including the first year, which was held at Chelsea High School while the Henry Cabot Lodge Fieldhouse was being redone.

“It’s been good, almost every game has been really close,” Lewis said. “It’s always fun to have the tournament and play some teams you might not normally play. It’s good for the kids.”

Boston Latin and Beverly have battled for the title in each of the last two seasons, with Boston Latin winning two years ago and Beverly taking last year’s meeting.

Lewis is glad his team has the opportunity to play games during the break, especially games that really mean something to his players. It’s not that Beverly doesn’t play hard every contest, but there is a little extra at stake in the Beverly Invitational.

“Last year, we knew that Boston Latin had beat us the year before in a game that we felt we let slip away. We fell apart in the fourth quarter,” Lewis said. “We came out strong last year and held them off. The kids remember and any time a trophy is involved, they’re up for it.”

A team like Beverly, which should be in good shape this season with a returning core of Jon Berchoff, Nick Cross and Jonangel Franco, can only benefit from playing a couple of high-intensity games early in the season. That’s all that Lewis can ask for.

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