BEVERLY — It’s tough to pinpoint exactly when the Lynn English boys basketball team ran away from host Beverly Wednesday night.
The Bulldogs are just so long, so athletic and so deep that their decisive spree seemed to happen in the blink of an eye.
Holding just a seven-point advantage heading into the locker room after a competitive opening half, English turned on the afterburners and doubled-up the Panthers on the third quarter scoreboard. They beat them from inside and out, and seemed to wear down the short-handed hosts en route to an 84-56 win.
“It was a duplicate of the Lowell game,” said Beverly head coach Matt Karakoudas, whose team remained close with unbeaten Lowell in the first half before succumbing to a third quarter surge that closely resembled Wednesday’s clash.
“We were down seven at the half tonight, down six at the half (at Lowell), but unfortunately you have to play two halves; you have to put four quarters together. It’s not like its a big X and O thing, it’s just that they’re so talented and Lowell was so talented. When you play a team of that caliber it’s going to show and it started to show there in the third quarter. Once they get running there’s no slowing them down, I don’t care who you are.”
With English holding a 36-29 lead at halftime thanks to the inside dominance of Mukeba Jean-Baptiste (11 of his 19 points in the first quarter), it was Jarnel Guzman who ultimately took the game over in the third.
The senior guard went off for 18 in the third frame alone, including a trio of 3-pointers and another three at the free throw line after being fouled on a shot from deep. Guzman also had a pair of steals in the frame and finished the contest with a game-high 31 points, five rebounds, two assists and four steals.
His notable aggressiveness and confident stroke from seemingly anywhere on the floor proved to be the difference, as Beverly had trouble keying in on Guzman with so many other viable options on the floor that could also beat them.
“I told (Jarnel) that in the first half he made some shots but he was trying to do a little too much,” said English head coach Antonio Anderson. “So at halftime I just told him to be yourself, take the shots they’re giving you and he got himself going. When he gets himself going by getting steals and making easy layups then everything just falls into place for him.”
The Panthers countered with some nice buckets inside from Duncan Moreland (team-high 17 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal) to get it back to 10 early in the third, but then Guzman got hot. He fittingly ended the stanza with a steal and breakaway layup to give the Bulldogs a 66-44 lead heading into the fourth.
Beverly was able to keep things close in the first two quarters thanks to a steady dose of defense, rebounding and well executed offense. Moreland — who now needs just 14 more points to hit 1,000 for his career — scored 10 points in the first half alone, while Damian Bouras (11 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals) also made some timely shots, including a 3-ball, to help the Panthers keep pace.
Senior big man Austin Ayer drew the start and rewarded Karakoudas with some stellar play as well, finishing with 13 points, 3 rebounds, an assist, a steal and a block, while playing some solid interior defense on English big man Jean-Baptiste and Ademide Badmus. Ayer, the tallest player on Beverly’s roster, gave up a good 3-5 inches on the aforementioned Bulldogs duo, but managed to contest without fouling and force some tough shots down low.
“Austin has played better every single game and his aggression is what is really carrying over which is what I like,” said Karakoudas. “He’s going to need to do it next year for us as a senior so it’s good to see.”
Outside of Guzman, the Bulldogs got some more sharpshooting outside from Kanye Wavezwa (14 points with three 3-balls).
English’s bench more than held their own throughout the contest, and with Beverly missing two key rotational players (Rook Landman and Treston Abreu) due to injury, the overall depth of the opponent proved to be a key difference maker throughout the 32 minute game.
“I think that’s the one thing that really helps us is we go down to the bench guys and they can make shots, they can defend, and we have enough bodies to keep going at them,” said Anderson. “We know Moreland plays a lot, Crowley plays a lot, and we just wanted to keep at them.”
With The Panthers competing in Division 2 come tournament time and English in Division 1, the two NEC foes won’t see each other again this season. But a matchup like this prepares both teams for a potentially deep run come playoff time.
“They’re up there; they’re good, they’re good,” Anderson said of how Beverly compares to some of the better teams his team has faced this season. “They’re beating people for a reason and I don’t care what people say about the league or anything else. That’s not a team anyone wants to play come first round, especially coming in here and how Matt (Karakoudas) has them playing. So they’re up there for sure.”
“I don’t know if anyone else in Div. 2 has played the No. 1 (English) and No. 2 (Lowell) teams in the state to gear up for the tournament,” said Karakoudas. “So I don’t think we’re going to see a Lowell or an English in the tournament. There’s some very good teams but I really feel D2 North is wide open and games like this better prepare us for that.”
Lynn English 84, Beverly 56
at Henry Cabot Lodge Fieldhouse, Beverly High
Beverly 15 14 15 12 — 56
English 18 18 30 18 — 84
Beverly: Duncan Moreland 8-1-17, Austin Ayer 6-0-13, Damian Bouras 5-0-11, Gabe Copeland 1-2-4, Brennan Frost 1-0-3, Kevin Regan 1-0-2, Jack Crowley 1-0-2, Justin DeLaCruz 1-0-2, Zack Sparkman 1-0-2.
English: Jarnel Guzman 11-3-31, Mukeba Jean-Baptiste 9-1-19, Kanye Wavezwa 5-1-14, Aaron Vizcaino 2-2-7, Louis Rivera Jr. 2-0-4, Ademide Badmus 0-4-4, Jack Rodriguez 0-3-3, Mason Jean-Baptiste 0-2-2.
Halftime: 36-29, LE
3-pointers: LE: Guzman 6, Wavezwa 3, Vizcaino; B: Bouras, Ayer, Frost
Records: B 17-2, LE 15-2