Norton headed north with his family for a ski trip when he received a message from sophomore guard Trace Schaejbe asking if the gym would be open this week.
“We started two sophomores and there are three good freshmen in the program,” Norton said. “Next year we’ll probably be under the radar and it will depend on how good we do in the offseason. These young kids are really dedicated basketball guys.”
Masconomet seemed to be in great position after winning nine of 11 games to climb back over .500 (9-7) after a slow start,. But the Chieftains have lost three straight games and face elimination tomorrow night at Malden Catholic (6:30 p.m.).
The Lancers, who started fast this season and stumbled a bit down the stretch, defeated Masco by 11 (61-50) earlier this season. Malden Catholic just qualified for the Division 2 North tournament with a win over Chelmsford last night.
In The Paint, a column on North Shore boys’ basketball, runs every Tuesday during the winter sports season in The Salem News. Contact staff writer Matt Jenkins at 978-338-2648, by e-mail at email@example.com, or follow him on Twitter @MattJenkins_SN.
Five for Thought ... Teams are putting the final touches on their regular season schedules this week and tournament pairings will be released Friday. Everyone knows it's all about matchups when the brackets are announced, but here are some storylines that could be huge factors for the North Shore tournament teams: 1. Hamilton-Wenham's balance. Whatever team the Generals draw you can be sure they'll be prepared to slow down James Foye. Hamilton-Wenham's best chance of advancing rests in the hands of secondary scorers Henry Eagar and Nikos Lara. 2. Salem's strength off the bench. The emergence of juniors David Kazadi and Jamie Dominguez off the bench has provided the Witches with another layer of firepower. Salem will need its top seven players to play at a high level to go far in a deep Division 2 North bracket. 3. Beverly's inconsistency. When playing their best, the Panthers look like they can compete with just about anyone. The problem has been Beverly's inability to play its best for an extended period of time. Just like Salem, Beverly will need to figure that out in a talented Div. 2 North section. 4. Eric Martin's injury. Everything -- offense and defense -- goes through Martin for Danvers. He suffered an injury in the Falcons' first loss on Sunday against Brighton, then sat out last night against Newton North. If this is something that keeps him hobbled, it could mean trouble for Danvers. 5. The St. John's Prep-Central Catholic collision course. St. John's now owns two wins over the Raiders this winter, but you still have to believe that the Eagles will have to go through Central eventually if they want to reach their goal. Could St. John's defeat Central three times in one season?