By Jean DePlacido
---- — 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.
“Temme really gets after it, and this was his best all around game,” said Marblehead coach Wayne Hanscom. “We count on him for his for leadership. We turned up the intensity in the second half, but we’d come down and score only to see Beverly get a 3-pointer at the other end.
“We’re super young, not to use that as an excuse. In just about every game so far this season we get out to a slow start and have to play from behind. Beverly has so many weapons, and Lewis does a good job coaching them. They have so many really good shooters they were able to stretch us out, and they must have gone to the line 20 something times.”
The Panthers made 18-of-28 shots from the line, and in the final minutes Marblehead was forced to foul.
“We’re a pretty good free throw shooting team, but it comes and goes,” said Lewis. “One night we’ll hit 50 percent and the next 75. The nice thing about this team is how balanced the scoring usually is. We had two guys, Sinclair, and Mike Dooling, come off the bench to give us a nice spark in the third quarter.
Cam Rogers and Jonathan Berchoff both had 12 points for the Panthers. Temme was the lone Magician in double digits with 16 including three treys. Temme hit a bomb to make it a two possession game in the final minute before Beverly put the game out of reach by hitting three of four from the line.
“We tried to create turnovers, and were able to close the gap, but we couldn’t get over the hump,” said Hanscom. “Beverly is 7-2 for a reason.”