SALEM — Back in high school, Bryan Ortiz and Nick Grassa were rivals while playing for Salem High and Lynn Classical, respectively.
Now they’re teammates at Salem State University — and both played a huge role for the host Vikings in a come-from-behind 70-65 win over local rival Gordon College in the second half of a men’s/women’s doubleheader last night.
Ortiz pumped in a game-high 22 points while Grassa finished with 18. Ortiz also had five assists, setting up Grassa for his three-point shots to spark the home team’s rally.
“The local boys stepped up,” said Vikings head coach Chris Harvey, his team now 3-2 on the season. It’s better to win ugly than to lose ugly; this one was ugly. Gordon plays a sagging man-to-man defense and they overprotected our guards, who are quick.
“We were able to make our shots late in the game, and both Ortiz and Grassa are super competitive. They had it going with Bryan feeding Nick for the three’s.”
The Vikings trailed by 10 points with 11 minutes left, but cut it that deficit to four after a trey by Grassa. After Ortiz made two from the foul line (where he was 6-for-6 overall), Grassa nailed a three-pointer to put Salem State ahead for good, 65-64, with just 2:39 remaining.
“It definitely took a full team effort,” said Ortiz. “I was looking for (Grassa) when we needed outside shooting. He and I had a lot of tough battles with Salem and Classical; I remember how he always hit those shots. We were down the whole game tonight and had to pick up the intensity.”
The Fighting Scots (now 1-4) were led by 6-foot-9 center Hans Miersma, who owned the boards and both ends and finished with 18 rebounds and 21 points as well as nine blocked shots.