By Jean DePlacido
---- — BEVERLY — The host Beverly boys basketball team handed Peabody its third straight loss of the young season, 61-43 last night. The Panthers were on fire at the start, quickly building up a 16 point cushion after a 17-0 run with Dom Abate, Jonangel Franco, and Josh Cairns all hitting three-pointers.
The Black-and-Orange maintained a big lead the rest of the way led by Franco with a game high 15 points, Jon Berchoff with 11, and Nick Cross chipping in 10.
"We're having a really hard time taking care of the ball, and once again turnovers (21) were a big problem," said Peabody coach Thad Broughton, his team 0-3. "Part of the credit for that has to go to Beverly's defense. They are real quick and play very good defense. "We never recovered from that slow start. I looked up at the board, and it was a 14 point game right away, only two or three minutes into the game. We fought back, but never recovered." Peabody turned the ball over eight times in the first quarter before settling down and playing much better. The Tanners reeled off six in a row on two foul shots by Maynard Wheeler and back-to-back baskets by Steve Leavitt and Wheeler to cut the deficit to nine points midway through the second quarter, but by halftime the Panthers had built up a 12 point cushion. Beverly relied on a very patient offense, working the ball around effectively to find the open man. "We really got off to a good start," said Beverly coach Scott Lewis after his team's second straight victory of the season. "We got a little sloppy in the middle of the game, and we still have a lot of work to do, but these kids are unselfish. I really like the balanced scoring and was happy to have a 12 point lead at the half. "Berchoff and Rogers both picked up two quick fouls, and they sat for the whole second quarter, but that gave us a chance to test out of depth. Mike Dooling got some good minutes along with Nick Cross. Everybody contributed; this was a good team win. Peabody fought hard right to the end with a good defensive effort, and we had to earn every basket." The Tanners came into the game missing two key players, who are recovering from ankle injuries. Ben Martinez was unable to play, and Yardley Tavares saw only limited action. Leavitt was the lone Peabody player in double figures with 13, and sophomore point guard Mike Correale added eight. Foni Makoci came off the bench to score four points and pull down eight rebounds. "We made some changes in our lineup because of the injuries," said Broughton. "The bench guys stepped up, and Makoci gave us a big spark. He has been working very hard in practice and deserved his playing time. "The effort was there, and the kids are playing hard. I am very happy with my team. We're struggling right now trying to find some consistency on offense. We had a couple of really good possessions, and then a couple of very bad possessions. It's a long season, and we're staying positive. We will turn this around."