Pioneers turn season around with four-game winning streak

Jan 29, 2020 by

Published January 29, 2020

By JAMES CRANNEY

LYNNFIELD – Sitting at 2-6 two games ago, things were not looking good for the Lynnfield boys’ basketball team. With what seemed like an insurmountable mountain to climb, the Pioneers were able to steer the ship back on course picking up big wins against Ipswich and Pentucket.

Now at 4-6, Lynnfield had the chance last week to do what many thought could not be done in getting their record to .500. To do so, The Pioneers would need two more big performances against a 7-4 Triton team and 3-8 Masco.

Pioneers trounce Triton

An explosive start out of the gate for Lynnfield put them in great position to control the game against Triton on Jan. 20. At one point, the Pioneers held a sizeable 20-point lead over the Vikings in the first half. Triton would not go away easily though, as they cut the deficit to 10 at halftime 35-25.

In the second half, it would be all Lynnfield. The Pioneer lead once again exceed 20 causing both coaches to empty their benches in the fourth quarter. In the end, Lynnfield was victorious 68-55 and only one game separated them from a .500 record.

BLAKE PETERS scored eight points against Masco during Lynnfield’s 65-57 win on Friday, their fourth straight. (Kristine Marengi Photo)

Lynnfield hangs on against Masco

The last time the Pioneers squared off against the Chieftains from Masco, Lynnfield cruised to a 50-39 road victory. Early on Friday night, it looked as if the Pioneers would yield the same results on their home court.

Senior captain Max Boustris (14 points) got things started early with a 3-pointer following a great pass from teammate Jack Ford (11 points). Half a minute later, Lynnfield made another 3, this time from senior captain Clayton Marengi (19 points). Masco’s junior guard Harry Osgood would respond with a 3 of his own to make it 6-3. Ford would also respond sinking another Pioneer bucket from downtown making it 9-3.

“The last four games we’ve shot the ball very well,” commented Lynnfield head coach Scott MacKenzie after the game. “We’ve shot especially well from outside so maybe that’s a sign of things changing.”

Marengi kept the three-party going dropping the fourth Pioneer 3-pointer at the first quarter’s five-minute mark. Lynnfield’s first basket not coming from beyond the arch came at 4:10 in the first quarter. Boustris made a terrific outlet pass hitting a streaking Ford down the court where the guard laid it in, making it 14-5. The Pioneers would finish the quarter strong with an 18-11 lead.

Lynnfield’s dominance continued in the second quarter. After a missed Chieftains 3 to begin the quarter, junior guard Blake Peters (8 points) was there to grab the board and feed Ford with a full court pass where the layup would make the lead nine. For the remainder of the first half, both teams exchanged points but Masco could not cut the deficit to single digits. Lynnfield’s Luke Martinho (2 points) finished the second quarter with a spectacular lay-in after grabbing a loose ball to make it a 34-22 game going into the locker room.

After a nearly flawless first half, the Pioneers seemed to ease their foot off the gas in the second. With a slew of poor shots and self-inflicted turnovers, the Chieftains were able to go on a 7-0 run late in the quarter and make it 41-32. Masco continued draining 3’s and would make it only a two-possession 45-39 game going into the final quarter.

At 6:09 in the fourth quarter, Masco’s Ethan Cote made it a four-point game with a mid-range jump shot. Marengi came right back with a 3-pointer to make it a three-possession game. A Chieftains 3 would bring the Lynnfield lead down to four, but yet another Marengi triple (his fourth of the night) would give the Pioneers some breathing room.

That breathing room shrank quickly following an onslaught of Masco 3-pointers. Lynnfield’s once commanding double digit lead had now dwindled to only one point. With a little over two minutes left in the game, coach MacKenzie had seen enough and called a timeout. After resetting, the Pioneers came out and finished the job.

Boustris got things started by nailing a 30pointer to make it 58-54. When Masco got the ball back, a steal from Ford led to another fast break basket brining the lead to six. Ford sealed the game with just over a minute left when his baseline jumper circumnavigated the entire rim before finally falling to beat the shot clock buzzer. A late 3 from Masco would not be enough as Lynnfield reached 6-6 on the season winning 65-57.

There are still plenty of games remaining in the season, but to go from 2-6 to now 6-6, the Pioneers have plenty of reasons to be proud.

“We could have easily folded at some point but we didn’t, which is a very big positive,” claimed coach MacKenzie after the close win. Despite the sloppy second half play, coach MacKenzie understands how much this hard-earned victory means.

“Twelve games into the season you are who you are. So, best performance or not best performance, it’s a win.”

Lynnfield dropped a 52-49 non-league game to Masco on Sunday night. The Pioneers (6-4 league record) traveled to Manchester-Essex (7-2) on Tuesday after press time. They play at North Reading (4-6) on Friday night at 7 p.m. 

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