BEVERLY — A young, inexperienced Beverly boys basketball team erased a double-digit, fourth quarter deficit in the final half minute last night at home to tie undefeated Masconomet.
For the Chieftains, it was hard to find a solution for such a monumental momentum shift. It’s a lot easier when you have Jake Rudolph in your backcourt.
After Gavin Sparkman knocked down a pair of free throws to tie the game for the hosts, Masco turned to its senior captain and Rudolph came through draining a floater in the paint with just over a second left. As a result, the Chieftains held on to win 65-63 after losing what had been a 12-point lead in the fourth quarter.
“If you have a kid like Jake, that’s where he really comes into play,” said Masco (4-0) head coach Frank Shea. “We ran exactly what we wanted to do. If he (Sparkman) made both free throws we were going to come down, get into a motion set, run some clock and then have Jake try to create something. We were fortunate enough that it went down.”
With around :6 seconds on the clock, Rudolph took a pass from outside the three-point-line and, driving to his left, split the help defense with a crow hop before releasing a tough floater that found its way through the bucket. The Panthers (0-4) drew up a great, last-second play hitting Sparkman at half court who quickly flipped the ball to Sam Traicoff — but Traicoff’s potential buzzer beater banked off the back iron.
The game had been very close early before Masco closed the second quarter on a 17-6 run that included a four-minute span in which the Chieftains scored 14 unanswered points. That let them take a 35-24 lead into halftime.
Falling behind early has been a trend that Panther (0-4) head coach Scott Lewis would like to see change.
“I wish we hadn’t dug ourselves that hole in the first half. You expend a lot of energy only to lose again, it’s the second time now we’ve lost basically at the buzzer,” said Lewis. “If we would just initiate that in the beginning and play with confidence, and play physical underneath we won’t have to dig ourselves out. When we play like that (in the fourth quarter) we’re a pretty good basketball team but we’re young and inexperienced. We don’t have that confidence yet. You play with confidence and shots go down.”
Rudolph (23 points) was limited throughout the contest due to some foul trouble and some very tenacious defense by Beverly’s John Loreti. However Rudolph did a lot of damage with limited touches while the rest of the Masco offense spread the ball around well for most of the game. The visitors had seven of eight players that saw time contribute in the scoring.
Justin D’Orlando (16 points) had a big first half on offense for the Chieftains while Jackson Latimer scored 7 of his 11 points in the second half.
“When we got into our offense I thought we did a nice job. We spread it around, we had several guys getting involved early which was key because we had Jake in foul trouble and we were able to survive that,” noted Shea. “We were a little light on the backboard which is something we need to work on but this was a good game for us, out of conference and against a gritty team.”
Masco’s lack of rebounding nearly cost the Chieftains the game as Beverly got three offensive rebounds before Sparkman, who had two of them, was fouled and eventually converted both freebies to tie the game at 63-63.
Sparkman was one of three Beverly senior captains that went off in the fourth quarter as the forward hit all seven of his free-throws while scoring nine of his 15 points. Fellow senior captains Traicoff (16 points) and Kyle Coughlin (12 points) hit big three-pointers for Beverly with Coughlin connecting on back-to-back long range jumpers to spark Beverly’s big run.
“Those were big shots. And we needed them,” explained Lewis. “I’m certainly proud of the way we came back but i wish we hadn’t dug ourselves that hole in the first half. But those guys (Sparkman, Traicoff and Coughlin) stepped up. And John Loreti I thought played fantastic defense. He was scrapping and clawing and chasing Rudolph around all game.”
Masconomet 65, Beverly 63
Masconomet: Rudolph 7-7-23, D’Orlando 5-6-16, Latimer 5-0-11, Low 1-2-5, Veguilla 1-1-4, McNeil 2-0-4, Tines 1-0-2, Ring 0-0-0. Totals 23-16-65.
Beverly: Traicoff 6-1-16, Sparkman 4-7-15, Coughlin 3-4-12, Gavin 4-4-12, Garrity 2-0-4, Loreti 2-0-4, Mulumba 0-0-0, Anderson 0-0-0, Patrazza 0-0-0 Totals 21-16-63.
Halftime: M, 35-24
3-pointers: M, Rudolph 2, Latimer, Low, Veguilla; B, Traicoff 3, Coughlin 2.
Records: M, 4-0; B, 0-4.