By Matt Jenkins
---- — SALEM — Sometimes all it takes is a minor defensive switch to transform the Lynn English boys basketball team from beatable to unbelievable.
Bulldogs coach Mike Carr made a small halftime adjustment last night, hoping to change the pace of the game, and it paid off as English ran away from Salem in the second half for a 68-57 win.
The loss snapped a 10-game win streak for Salem, which now sits at 12-2.
“In the second half we went to a triangle-and-two and had success with it,” Carr said. “That got us up-tempo and got us some turnovers. If we’re not turning teams over, we’re just average at best. The kids responded in the second half.”
Salem defeated the Bulldogs in Lynn earlier this season, and the Witches controlled play in the first half.
They kept their turnovers down, slowed the pace of the game, and confused the Bulldogs with their 3-2 zone before halftime.
After intermission, everything started slipping away from Salem.
“It was lots of things. I really think they executed a good game plan. We tried to take certain things away and we addressed certain things, but it didn’t happen,” Salem coach Tom Doyle said. “Leaving Freddie (Hogan) alone early in the second half and him hitting two wide open threes was bad. Our focus on defense was to find him and they got a lot of transition points and we turned the ball over (in the second half). Those were the three things we focused on and we just didn’t execute.”
Lynn English (11-3) started the second half with an 8-0 run, highlighted by a pair of Hogan 3-pointers, to take a 36-33 lead. After Jamie Dominguez dropped in a pull-up jumper to cut it back to one (36-35), the Bulldogs reeled off the next 11 points for a 47-35 advantage.
By then, Salem was out of rhythm and couldn’t find the answers.
“The shots weren’t falling. In the first half we were knocking down the shots, but not in the second half. That’s a tribute to their defense; they were all over us and they played a great game,” Doyle said. “It’s a setback and we had a chance to take a controllable lead in the (Northeastern) conference race. Now, it’s still in our hands. We have to play the games and see how it falls and just take care of our own business.”
English began finding the shots that it couldn’t in the first half, and the Bulldogs made them count. They hit five of their seven 3-pointers in the second half.
Erick Rosario hit three 3-pointers in the second half and scored a game-high 19 points. Johnny Hilaire added 15 points and Hogan and Danny Lukanda each scored 13 for English.
David Kazadi (15 points, 12 rebounds) and Bryan Martinez-Rodriguez (15 points, 10 rebounds) each had double-doubles for Salem. Dominguez hit four triples and scored 14 points while Rashad Keys just missed a double-double with nine points and 12 rebounds.
English may have snapped Salem’s win streak, but Doyle still believes it’s something his team can build from.
“It was a pleasant surprise to win that many in a row with five new starters,” Doyle said. “To be in the position we’re in right now, I’m pleasantly surprised. The kids are working and getting better all time. We’ve won some close games and the kids have really stepped up.”