By Matt Jenkins
---- — BEVERLY — Two different versions of the Beverly boys basketball team were on display last night at the Henry Cabot Lodge Fieldhouse against Peabody.
The first — the one that plays offense in the halfcourt and relies on senior forward Nick Cross to produce points — held a slim advantage over the Tanners. The other — the one that turns defense into offense by scoring in transition — completely ran Peabody off the court.
Beverly scored 29 points in the second quarter and 31 in the third to pull away from the Tanners for an 88-52 victory.
“Their zone can be a little tough to crack, so if you can beat it down the court ... that’s what we tried to do,” Beverly (3-2) coach Scott Lewis said. “When the offense gets stagnant a little bit our best scorer, which is no secret, is Nick and he’s there to bail us out a little.
“I thought we did a much better job getting into our break (after the first quarter). Our defense was decent in the first quarter, but we weren’t getting anything out of it. In the second quarter, we were getting stops and were able to get into transition and then get some easy baskets.”
Cross is a scoring machine for the Panthers. He led all scorers with 27 points last night to boost his season average to 21.2 points per game, and he does it in all phases of the game. He takes it hard to the hoop and finishes with touch, while also stepping out to hit the 3-pointer.
In the first quarter, Cross had 11 of Beverly’s 13 points as the Panthers led 13-10.
After that, everything changed.
Beverly turned stops into fast breaks, which seemed to result in either layups or free throws. The Panthers hit Peabody with a 14-2 run in the blink of an eye, and they didn’t stop there. Beverly closed the quarter with an 11-2 run that pushed its lead to 42-19 heading into the break.
Then, it was more of the same in the third quarter. The team that was leaning on Cross in the first eight minutes was now spreading the ball around and beating the Tanners from all angles.
Beverly outscored Peabody 31-14 in the third quarter to completely put the game away.
“We hung with them for a quarter, but Beverly got really hot offensively and defensively and we got cold,” Peabody (1-4) coach Thad Broughton said. “They’re a fantastic team. We have to play a very good game to beat them and honestly they were fantastic tonight. They hit shots, rebounded and did all the things that you need to win.”
Beverly ended up with four players in double figures. John Berchoff made nine free throws and finished with 15 and Chris Sinclair scored nine of his 14 in the second half. Sophomore guard Kyle Coughlin came off the bench to contribute 13 points.
Peabody, meanwhile, didn’t have one player reach double figures. Matt Correale and Brian Onessimo each had nine points and Jared McCarron pitched in eight.
“The way I look at it, it’s early in the season and it’s a learning process. It’s good for them to see what a program hitting on all cylinders looks like,” Broughton said. “For us, our young guys have to do some of the things that are going to make them better. We have to go back to practice and work on what we did wrong tonight and correct those mistakes.”