By Matt Jenkins
---- — 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.”
Classical was able to keep its composure down the stretch, even when its lead slipped away. Sophomore Phillip Rogers made two free throws to pull the Rams even at 55, then Eraldo Custodio hit a turnaround jumper to regain the lead and Jorge Perez delivered the dagger Lewis’ team had been looking for — a corner three for a 60-55 advantage with 1:57 to play.
Beverly didn’t go away. Junior guard Chris Sinclair came up with a steal and a layup to make it a one-possession game (60-57) with 1:23 to go and, after two free throws from Classical, Cam Rogers knocked down a three to pull Beverly within two (62-60).
Panthers’ junior forward Jon Berchoff then came up with a steal, but couldn’t convert a layup in traffic that would have tied the game. Beverly also committed a turnover in the final seconds when the deficit was only three points.
“We just beat them three weeks ago by 22 points and Scott came up with a completely different game plan,” Grassa said. “It’s take-your-pick with them. Cross we know has been very effective, and we were focused on Berchoff and Rogers. We tried to focus our attention on those three and that’s what I think Scott did, telling his guards to just take my guards to the hole. It was very effective because as soon as you try to help, they’d kick it.”
Beverly played hard, full-court man-to-man defense, which forced Classical to work hard for its shots and spread the wealth. Phillip Rogers, who scored 31 against Beverly the last time these two teams played, was held to 14 last night. Custodio also had 14, and Jalen Brown led the Rams with 16. Perez also hit double figures with 10.
Beverly’s effort on defense may have limited its offense at times. Cross scored a game-high 22 points and Berchoff added 14. Cam Rogers managed nine.
“I don’t know what (Phillip Rogers) had tonight, but I thought Cam did a really good job on him,” Lewis said. “He was exerting himself down this end (on defense). He made a lot of big steals late to get us back in. It’s hard; we ask him to do so much for us — defend the other team’s better players, go down and score, and he has to rebound for us.”
agateHed:Lynn Classical 66, Beverly 60
agate_boldCentered:Division 2 North first round
agate_lineQuarters:Lynn Classical@SportsLocalAgate:agate_lineQuarters:: Ja. Brown 6-4-16, Jo. Brown 1-1-3, Perez 3-3-10, Solis 3-0-7, Mercado 0-2-2, Rogers 6-2-14, Custodio 7-0-14. @SportsLocalAgate:agate_lineQuarters:Totals@SportsLocalAgate:agate_lineQuarters: 26-12-66@SportsLocalAgate:agate_lineQuarters:.
agate_lineQuarters:Beverly@SportsLocalAgate:agate_lineQuarters:: Rogers 4-0-9, Sinclair 2-1-5, Abate 2-0-4, Franco 2-1-6, Cairns 0-0-0, Cross 7-5-22, Berchoff 6-2-14, Dooling 0-0-0. @SportsLocalAgate:agate_lineQuarters:Totals@SportsLocalAgate:agate_lineQuarters: 23-9-60@SportsLocalAgate:agate_lineQuarters:.
agate_lineQuarters:Halftime@SportsLocalAgate:agate_lineQuarters:: Lynn Classical, 32-27.
agate_lineQuarters:3-pointers@SportsLocalAgate:agate_lineQuarters:: LC, Perez, Solis; B, Cross 3, Rogers, Franco.
agate_lineQuarters:Records@SportsLocalAgate:agate_lineQuarters:: LC, 15-8; B, 14-7.