MARBLEHEAD — Nick Cross is usually the sixth man for Beverly, but with point guard Jonangel Franco out of the lineup with an injury the junior was given a start. He made the most of his opportunity with a game high 17 points to lead the Panthers to a 58-49 win on the road.
“Franco either has a broken or dislocated finger,” said Beverly coach Scott Lewis. “Cross stepped up and was really active; he made a lot of big plays. Nick is so long and athletic it’s hard to guard him.”
The Panthers improved to 7-2 with the victory while Marblehead fell to 4-5 and has now lost three in a row. Beverly’s smothering defense was very effective and twice in the first half the Magicians couldn’t get a shot off before the 30 second clock expired.
Beverly had a four point lead after one, and went on a 7-2 run to open the second quarter to go up by nine. Josh Cairns hit a 3-pointer, Chris Sinclair followed with a layup, and Cross made two free throws to key the run.
Cross had nine points in that eight minute stretch, and by halftime Beverly had built up an 11 point lead, 29-18.
“We knew this was going to be a grind it out affair, and I thought we played well until the last three or four minutes when we got a little sloppy,” said Lewis. “The plan was to try to get an early lead and go from there. We knew they’d come back so we wanted a big lead early. They do a great job slowing it down.”
Marblehead’s Alex Conn hit consecutive baskets to cut the deficit to seven points, but Cross answered at the other end by nailing a trey. The Magicians’ Alex Temme, the lone senior on the team, answered with a big 3-pointer before Cross made an old-fashioned three point play to get the lead back up to 10.