The Salem News
---- — Pingree boys basketball head coach Steve Gibbs and the rest of the Highlanders have been saying all winter long that junior Johnny Spears is the best on-ball defender in the New England Prep School Athletic Conference.
Last night, Spears had a chance to prove it.
On the road against the second seeded Wheeler School, Spears held the home teams best player, Nick Balcom, to just one field goal as Pingree earned a 62-52 win in the New England Class C semifinals.
The two teams had played at the end of the regular season at Wheeler and the home team scored a big victory behind a big outing from Balcom, who is averaging just around 23 points per game.
“(Balcom) lit us up last week and Johnny held him to only one field goal,” said Gibbs. “We say all the time that he’s the best on-ball defender in New England, and everything we said came true tonight. I’m really proud of the kid.”
Spears did it with more than defense, too; the junior speedster scored 14 points and dished out 12 assists. Fellow junior captain Kyle Lentini led the Highlanders in scoring with 20 points, including 14 in the second half, while freshman Justin Assad chipped in 14 points.
Pingree will play Green Farms Academy in the New England Class C championship at 1:30 p.m. tomorrow at Worcester Academy. Green Farms has won 17 straight.
“It’s going to be a huge challenge for us,” noted Gibbs. “But if we keep momentum and the way we’ve been playing this week, we certainly have a shot.”
Gordon splits season opening doubleheader: Beginning their 2013 season in New Jersey, the Scots defeated host Centenary, 7-6, in the opener but dropped the second game of a doubleheader, 5-1.
Brian Harrington’s three-run homer in the top of the seventh inning tied Game 1 at 6-6 before Stephen Crawford’s bunt single plated Anon Rowland with the winning run, capping a four-run final frame for Gordon. Nick Catalanotto earned the victory with three innings of relief while Dillon Coleman (as well as Harrington and Crawford) had two hits.
The Scots had just four hits in the nightcap, with Harrington’s sacrifice fly in the third inning plating Alex German for their only run.