, Salem, MA


February 27, 2013

Classical closes strong, bounces Beverly boys hoop from playoffs

BEVERLY — An eight-point fourth-quarter run was just enough to get the Beverly High boys basketball team its first lead of the second half last night against Lynn Classical.

If the Panthers had been able to stretch it to a 10 or 12-point spurt, then they might have been able to survive their Division 2 North first round matchup with the Rams. Instead, Classical finished strong and made enough free throws down the stretch to hang on for a 66-60 victory.

Classical (15-8) will now play at third-seeded Wakefield on Saturday (4 p.m.) in the quarterfinals.

The Panthers couldn’t help but feel like they let one slip through their fingers at Henry Cabot Lodge Fieldhouse.

“We had so many chances to make that big shot that would’ve been the dagger. I know we had a couple of threes midway through the fourth that might have put us up,” Beverly (14-7) coach Scott Lewis said. “I’m proud of our kids, but disappointed because we had a chance to win that game.”

Beverly, which led by five points on three different occasions in the first half, floundered in the third quarter and fell behind by 11 (47-36) with three minutes to go in the frame.

The Panthers climbed back into it with a 9-0 run to close the quarter, highlighted by an old-fashioned three-point play, then a long-range three-pointer by Nick Cross. After another mini-spurt for Classical to start the fourth, Beverly scored eight straight points — capped by a Cross turnaround jumper — to take a 55-53 lead with 3:35 to go.

“Every single time we had a little breathing room, they came right back,” Classical coach Tom Grassa said. “I don’t mean that to say in a negative way, like we gave the game away, but we have turnovers in clusters. At one point we were up 11 and had four consecutive turnovers, and Beverly converted each time.”

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