By Jean DePlacido
---- — PEABODY — Fans kept hearing the announcer say Onessimo many times last night in Peabody’s 68-41 victory over North Shore/Essex Aggie. That’s because the home team’s senior forward Brian Onessimo scored a career high 29 points in the second and third quarters to lead the Tanners to victory.
Not only was he automatic inside, but Onessimo also finished with a double-double with 11 rebounds and four steals. The game was close in the early going as both teams were cold shooting, but Onessimo changed that in the second quarter when he poured in eight points during an 11-3 run that put Peabody on top for good. The Tanners (3-5) closed out the quarter by scoring the last seven points to take an 11 point lead into intermission.
Onessimo had a great night, but he wasn’t a one-man show. His teammates realized he had the hot hand and kept feeding the ball to him. Bobby Sullivan, Matt Correale, Jared McCarron, and freshman Matt D’Amato gave Onessimo some great passes.
One of the keys to victory was holding Trace Schaejbe to 11 points. The junior had 31 for the Hawks in the loss to Greater Lowell the night before, but was covered closely all game.
“He’s having a fantastic year,” said Tanner coach Thad Broughton. “We know how great he is offensively and had to make sure we stayed with him at all times.”
Peabody had a distinct height advantage and crashed the boards led by Onessimo, Sullivan (eight), and Jared McCarron (six). Schaejbe got in early foul trouble and had to sit out much of the second quarter when the Tanners dominated. In the middle two quarters the Tanners had a 43-18 scoring advantage.
“Onessimo led us, and McCarron had one of his best games of the year even though he didn’t score that many points (seven),” said Broughton. “Sullivan did a nice job on the boards. We’re going on a stretch with a bunch of games in the next couple of weeks so it was very important to come out and play well tonight.
“I thought that third quarter was critical. We started to play better defense and hit timely shots. We know they are a really good outside shooting team, and that was one of my main concerns.”
Correale gave Onessimo a great pass in the paint, and he put it in to start the third quarter to increase Peabody’s lead, 30-17. D’Amato followed with a jump shot before Paul Lazzaro (eight points) answered at the other end for the Hawks.
“This wasn’t about me but about how we performed as a team,” said Onessimo. “I was in the right place at the right time and got some great passes. Once I got going I felt really good.
“We needed a win, and I think our strong defense had a lot to do with getting it; our pressure not only caused turnovers but created a lot of transition points. We’ve got a big game against Gloucester on Friday so we’ve got to get ready for that one.”
The Tanners kept the pressure on, and went on a 9-0 run to go up by 23 points late in the third quarter. Their full court press caused several turnovers that they were able to capitalize on at the other end.
“We’re vertically challenged,” said Hawks head coach Jody Norton after his team fell to 2-6. “Defensively we broke down. Our guys got in foul trouble so we switched to a zone which allowed Peabody second, third, and even fourth chances to score.
“We had a lousy shooting night, and maybe some of that was because we played last night so we were a little tired. The reason why we schedule Peabody is because we want to play teams that will make us better. If we do get to the Division 4 tournament games like this one are really going to help us.”
Broughton took his starters out at the end of the third quarter, but the bench players kept up the intensity the rest of the way led by Nick Cuevas (six points) and Aaron Loredo (five).
“Cuevas gave us some great energy minutes off the bench,” said Broughton. “Loredo did the same. It’s nice to get the win, but we’ve got to get ready for two big games against Gloucester and then Bishop Fenwick on Sunday.”