By Mike Grenier
---- — BEVERLY — Beverly High basketball coach Scott Lewis spent yesterday wondering how his undefeated team would stack up against a quality opponent like Lynn English.
The first conclusion he would reach after a 70-52 blowout loss at home was that the Panthers (2-1) have a long way to go.
But on the plus side, there’s a lot of basketball remaining and Beverly did show some promise despite the lopsided outcome.
“It was a learning lesson,” said Lewis. “It was disappointing (that the Panthers weren’t more competitive). They’re one of the best teams in the league and I wanted to see how we’d respond. We’re just not used to seeing this kind of team. We were a little nervous and it showed in the way we missed layups and free throws. But that’s a very talented team that we played.”
The Bulldogs played the role of aggressor and were rewarded with a game-changing 13-0 run that turned a 25-20 contest into a 38-20 lead shortly before halftime. Beverly would slice it to eight in the third quarter, but that was as close as it would get.
Quite simply, Lynn English (2-1) was superior in every facet of the game. The Bulldogs had more offensive weapons and knew how to use them. They pounded Beverly on the offensive glass, especially in the first quarter while grabbing 20-13 lead, and their full court press and trapping game never allowed the Panthers offense to turn comfortable. A 5-for-16 performance at the foul line also undermined Beverly’s cause.
“That’s not like us; we’re usually better than that at the line,” said Lewis. “But we didn’t break their press and I thought that was the key to the game. They’re a team that can wear you down with all that pressure.”
Lynn English showed a lot of creativity and variety on offense. Junior guard Fred Hogan, who is clearly the leader/orchestrator for coach Mike Carr, finished with a game-high 19 points, including three trifectas. Sophomore guard Erick Rosario added 14 points and impressive-looking freshman Anthony Silfa chipped in 12 points off the bench, matching Hogan with three 3-pointers.
Meanwhile, solid center Ben Bowden, who is headed to Vanderbilt as a pitching prospect, got the Bulldogs going with seven first quarter points.
“Don’t get my wrong, I’m happy with the win, but we’re a bit helter-skelter and we’re going to have to get better,” said Carr. “When we start a game, we feel like we should be down by 10 points (forcing a sense or urgency), but tonight there was a softness to our game at the beginning. But we got it going — and that 13-0 run was more about our defense than anything else.”
Junior guard Josh Cairns finished with 14 points but was the only double digit scorer for Beverly. Cam Rogers and Jonathan Berchoff each chipped in nine points while junior point guard Jonangel Franco had eight. Senior forward Mike Dooling was a spark off the bench with his hustle and contributed four points.
Beverly could’ve easily cashed it in when it was 38-20 late in the opening half, but baskets by Berchoff and senior Dom Abate in the final seconds made it a more manageable deficit (38-24) at the break. The Panthers then went on an 8-2 run to begin the third quarter with two baskets coming from Rogers. However, Hogan regained control of the tempo for Lynn English and Silfa nailed a pair of threes to extend the lead to 53-38 at the end of three quarters.
“This (win) was important to us,” said Hogan, who has the talent to cause problems against any team. “They’re not a bad team and I knew it would be a tough (road) place to play. Our defense was the difference. We play good ball ‘D’ and then we run up and down the floor. That’s what we do.”
Even against a sometimes stifling Lynn English defense, the Panthers ran some plays that gave them makeable shots. The problem was that they rushed those shots. “And when you get behind like we did, they’re a tough team to play catch-up against,” said Lewis.
Beverly will be playing more Lynn English-caliber teams this season, so it will have to elevate its play. Last night it was blindsided, but now it should have an idea of what to expect.