Tag Archives: Johnny Spears

Jeff Spellman (31 points) shoots Beaver Country Day past Pingree 81-64

Jeff Spellman (31 points) hit five long ones in a twenty-five point first half

Jeff Spellman (31 points) hit five long ones in a twenty-five point first half

Jeff Spellman drives on Alonzo Jackson

Jeff Spellman drives on Alonzo Jackson

(Hamilton MA) Talented Jeff Spellman (31 points) led Beaver Country Day School past Pingree, 81-64, on a rainy Friday night in Eastern Independent League action.

The win gives BCD (19-1) an undefeated league season as well as their fifth straight EIL championship.

Pingree (16-6) had an enthusiastic crowd (It was their senior recognition game) but no first-half defensive answers for guard Jeff Spellman.

Beaver was missing point guard Keyshaun Jacobs so that meant Jeff Spellman handled the ball more than usual.  In this game, that change spelled disaster for Pingree in the first half.

Jeff poured in a remarkable twenty-five points in the first sixteen minutes.  He hit three’s from five different spots.  He made driving layups in traffic and added free throws.  It was quite a show, to say the least.

Kyle Lentini (10 points) had the Highlanders up, 8-7, after 2 1/2 minutes.  The next four minutes of playing time belonged to the Beavers.  The visitors put a 19-3 segment together and vaulted ahead, 26-11, with eight minutes left in the first half.

Jacquil Taylor (14 points) gets set to dunk

Jacquil Taylor (14 points) gets set to dunk

6-9 Jacquil Taylor (Purdue) cashed three straight layups.  On one Jacquil (14 points) was assisted by Kevin Scarlett, another was a rebound putback, and the third was a jam off of a steal.

Jeff Spellman closed the scoring in this separation segment with two straight long ones.  He made the first from the top of the key and the second from the corner off an inbounds play.

The separation segment pushed Pingree down by double digits and they would never get inside that barrier the rest of the way.

Jeff Spellman closed the first half with a buzzer-beating three to give Beaver a 47-23 bulge at halftime.

Pingree was able to win the second half, 41-34, and did get to within ten points (72-62) with two minutes left.  However, BCD sealed this one by making 9-of-10 free throws the rest of the way.

Justin Assad in the lane

Justin Assad in the lane

Beaver won the first meeting at Brookline, 71-43.  This one didn’t go in that direction because Pingree played the second half with crowd-pleasing intensity.

Down 66-48 with 5 1/2 minutes remaining, the Highlanders’ pressure started to pay off.  Remember that the Beavers’ point guard was missing.  Also off the floor was shot-blocker Jacquil Taylor (injury).

The Highlanders started to get turnovers and took the ball to the basket.  Johnny Spears and Justin Assad were a big part of the 14-6 Pingree rally that cut Pingree’s deficit to ten points and fired up the crowd.  BCD coach Juan Figuero burned a couple of timeouts during the Pingree comeback.  The Beavers, however, recovered by taking better care of the ball in the two final minutes and Pingree was forced to foul.  Outstanding BCD free throw shooting finished off Pingree’s comeback.

Impressive game by Pingree’s Alonzo Jackson.  The Highlanders’ big man collected eighteen points on the inside.

Johnny Spears led a second half rally

Johnny Spears led a second half rally

Johnny Spears (13 points) showed his lightening speed in the second half on offense.  Sometimes he would get to the basket and other times he would spot teammates while he was airborne.  Johnny can take games over and Pingree will need that to happen if they are to do very well in the Class C tournament.

Beaver Country will be in the Class B tournament.  If they have all of their starters ready to go they could end up winning a title.

BCD’s lone loss was to Hoosac School by two points (54-52) on January 22nd at UMass Boston.  I tried to find out how the Owls had pulled that one off.  That’s where I got acquainted with a player named, Unique McLean.  The sophomore guard from Brooklyn put thirty-two points on Beaver including the game-winner at the buzzer.  Coach Figueroa told me before the Pingree game that Unique was the best player he’s seen this season.  Hoosac School (on NY/VT border) has won the Class D title two straight years.

Griffin Beal and Kyle Lentini each had ten points for Pingree.

Beaver Country Day School box

Pingree box

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Jeff Spellman finishes

Jeff Spellman finishes

Alonzo Jackson (18 points) shoots in traffic

Alonzo Jackson (18 points) shoots in traffic

Kyle Lentini and Connor Reardon

Kyle Lentini and Connor Reardon

Connor Reardon chases Jamie Kennedy

Connor Reardon chases Jamie Kennedy

Jacquil Taylor looks for a pass

Jacquil Taylor looks for a pass

Jeff Spellman saves

Jeff Spellman saves

Kent Ellertson shoots over Griffin Beal

Kent Ellertson shoots over Griffin Beal

Reese Fullmer and Kevin Scarlett

Reese Fullmer and Kevin Scarlett

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Filed under Beaver Country Day, Pingree

Cold shooting Pingree falls to Governor’s Academy 53-46

Kam Nobles sends a pass to Matt Peart for a layup

Kam Nobles sends a pass to Matt Peart for a layup

Matt Peart (15 points) shoots over Alonzo Jackson and Kyle Lentini

Matt Peart (15 points) shoots over Alonzo Jackson and Kyle Lentini

(Byfield MA) Governor’s Academy took the lead for good with 7+ minutes left and defeated Pingree School, 53-46, on Saturday afternoon in non-league action.

There were five lead changes in the first half and the Highlanders (12-7) had a slim, 29-27, advantage at the half.

The turnover-prone Gov’s (13 in the first half) survived in the first half because junior Matt Peart (15 points) was a force at both ends.  Matt blocked shots and intimidated Pingree penetrators while getting eleven of his points in the first sixteen minutes.

Matt Peart converted a rebound to tie the score at 35-35 with just under twelve minutes left in the second half.  However, Kyle Lentini (16 points) was part of a Pingree push that had them ahead, 40-37, with 10:12 remaining.

Last year the Gov’s won, 58-57, at Pingree and this game looked, at this point, as if it was heading in the same direction.

It didn’t work out that way.

Justin Assad and Nick Osarenren (10 points)

Justin Assad and Nick Osarenren (10 points)

Sometimes there’s a basket in the game that turns the tide.  I think it was the go-ahead-for-good basket by freshman Nick Osarenren.  The Govs were very patient on most of their second-half possessions but on this key one, they were almost a little too patient.  Nick ended up with the ball on the left baseline and with everyone on the GA bench yelling for him to shoot he did and swished a jump shot as the 35-second clock went off.

Nick’s shot put GA (4-10) in front, 41-40, with 7+ minutes left.  The Highlanders had no scoring answers the rest of the way.  The visitors from Hamilton made just one outside shot (Justin Assad) in the second half.

The Govs put an 8-2 segment together and increased their advantage to 49-42 with just under three minutes left.

Pingree could not get closer than five points the rest of the way even though GA made only two of seven free throws in the final minute.

Kam Nobles (11 points) tries to go between Erik Fyrer and Griffin Beal

Kam Nobles (11 points) tries to go between Erik Fyrer and Griffin Beal

I was impressed with the play of GA point guard Kam Nobles.  Kam was the stabilizer against a persistent Pingree press and was the key to GA’s clock-eating offense down the stretch.  Kam collected eleven points including two 3’s.

Johnny Spears was back for Pingree and made a number of passes that “wowed” the sizable crowd.

Pingree benefited from a scorebook miscue early in the game.  Kyle Lentini ended up with a couple of extra free throws as a result.

Kyle had Pingree’s only three in the game.

Kyle Lentini (16 points) puts up a shot

Kyle Lentini (16 points) puts up a shot

Justin Assad had twelve points for Pingree.

Pingree’s next game is at Providence Country Day School on Friday, February 7th.

Governor’s will be at Brooks in their next action on Wednesday (7PM).

Governor’s box

Pingree box

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Johnny Spears tries to get between two defenders

Johnny Spears tries to get between two defenders

Johnny Spears and Charles Odei

Johnny Spears and Charles Odei

Justin Assad gets an open look

Justin Assad gets an open look

Matt Peart blocks the shot of Kyle Lentini

Matt Peart blocks the shot of Kyle Lentini

Erik Fyrer (#5) deflects a shot

Erik Fyrer (#5) deflects a shot

heavy action under the basket

heavy action under the basket

Pat Davis

Pat Davis

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Filed under Governor's Academy, Pingree

Dorsey and Swenson lead Middlesex past Pingree 69-59

Austin Dorsey (23 points) shoots over Connor Reardon and Alonzo Jackson

Austin Dorsey (23 points) shoots over Connor Reardon and Alonzo Jackson

Aaron Swenson found enough room to score twenty-one points

Aaron Swenson found enough room to score twenty-one points

(Hamilton MA) I heard him say it in the huddle before the game even started.  “Get up on them.  They can shoot.”

Those were the words of Pingree coach Steve Gibbs referring to visiting Middlesex, and were they ever true!

Middlesex (10-2) defeated Pingree, 69-59, finding and hitting open shots with regularity on Friday night at Pingree in a non-league game.

Austin Dorsey, making only his second start for the Zebras, killed the Highlanders from the outside (six 3’s) on his way to a game high twenty-three points.

By the time the 6-6 Middlesex sophomore had canned his 4th trey in the first half, Coach Gibbs had burned three timeouts trying to find defensive answers.  The Highlanders trailed, 27-10, at the time with nearly four minutes left in the first half.

Pingree (10-5) was very keen on defending Middlesex point guard Aaron Swenson.  And for good reason, the 5-7 senior netted forty-one points on Wednesday against Roxbury Latin.  The problem for Pingree was that speedy defender Johnny Spears was unavailable to guard Aaron.  Without Johnny, Coach Gibbs gave just about everyone a chance to limit the damage Aaron might do.

Aaron Swenson chased by Chad DiCenzo and Alonzo Jackson

Aaron Swenson chased by Chad DiCenzo and Alonzo Jackson

After Aaron’s three on the first shot of the game, Pingree did keep him from hurting them long-range.  However, close guarding outside led to cuts to the basket.  Aaron finished with twenty-one points including thirteen in the second half.

Middlesex was missing starters Jon Siu and Ben Cherington but on this day Austin Dorsey filled in remarkably well.

The visitors from Concord (MA) had an 8-0 lead before Kyle Lentini (13 points) broke the ice with a 3-pointer.

The Highlanders were within six (16-10) until Middlesex ran eleven unanswered points over the next five minutes to build up a 27-10 spread.  Pingree had six turnovers during that five minute dry spell.  (Another place where having Johnny Spears available might have made a difference.)

Middlesex led by twelve (33-21) at the half.

Kyle Lentini (13 points)

Kyle Lentini (13 points)

Pingree showed some life early in the second half cutting their deficit to nine (40-31).  They were still close enough (44-33) to make things interesting with 11:20 left.

But in the next 3+ minutes, Middlesex put ten straight points together (3’s by Austin Dorsey and Hamza Usman, plus layups by Aaron Swenson and Hamza Usman) and grew their lead to 54-33 with 8 1/2 minutes left.

Pingree was able to make the final score a little more respectable by swishing three 3-pointers (Reese Fullmer, Tom Lennon, and Kyle Lentini) in the last minute.

Pingree’s Alonzo Jackson (12 points) was very effective in close.  The Highlanders did not give the tall sophomore enough touches.

Senior Peter Beatty picked up twelve points for Middlesex.

The Zebras had a number of assisted layups on passes from Aaron Swenson or Austin Perry.

Johnny Spears (right) watches

Johnny Spears (right) watches

Would it be fair to say that Pingree without Johnny Spears is like the Celtics without Rajon Rondo?

Aaron Swenson will be attending Connecticut College.

Next game for Middlesex will be home against Brooks School on Wednesday (4PM).

Pingree visits Landmark tomorrow.

Middlesex box

Pingree box

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Justin Assad blocks Peter Beatty

Justin Assad blocks Peter Beatty

Griffin Beal

Griffin Beal

Tom Lennon looks for help

Tom Lennon looks for help

Austin Perry passes

Austin Perry passes

Jon Siu

Jon Siu

Aaron Swenson

Aaron Swenson

Jack Lyne eyes the hoop

Jack Lyne eyes the hoop

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Filed under Middlesex, Pingree

Pingree overwhelms Winchendon 75-49 in New England Class C quarterfinals in boys basketball

Freshman Justin Assad (26 points) dunked twice against Winchendon

Freshman Justin Assad (26 points) dunked twice against Winchendon

Johnny Spears (12 points) chased by Batu Oztahtaci

Johnny Spears (12 points) chased by Batu Oztahtaci

(Hamilton) “I don’t think we could play any better,” was what I overheard afterwards from the Pingree School coaching staff.

And who on hand at Pingree School could conclude otherwise.

The Highlanders (19-7) did everything right to decisively defeat Winchendon, 75-49, on a rainy Wednesday afternoon at Pingree in front of a noisy crowd.

The victory moves Pingree on to the New England Class C semifinals on Friday.  They’ll face either Wheeler or Kent’s Hill.

The home team was missing starter Alonzo Jackson because the freshman had the misfortune of tearing his ACL in practice the day before.  With a teammate down, the rest of the Pingree team seemed determined to step up.  Their passing, shooting, rebounding, and defending were exceptional all game long.

Winchendon (12-7) hung around for the first ten minutes, trailing only 22-20, thanks to fifteen points by Malcolm Smith.  The Pingree scoring, however, never let up and they led by twelve (38-26) at the half.

Malcolm Smith (22 points) gets to the basket in the early going

Malcolm Smith (22 points) gets to the basket in the early going

The Highlanders started the second half with an 11-2 segment, covering 3 ½ minutes, to stretch their advantage to, 49-28.  Winch did well the rest of the way just to keep a rolling Pingree squad from only adding five points to their lead by game‘s end.

Justin Assad (26), Kyle Lentini (17), Connor Reardon (12), and Johnny Spears (12) all reached double figures for the Highlanders.

Malcolm Smith (22) and Mustafa Ozgumus (10) reached double figures for the visitors.

Anyone on hand for the first ten minutes wouldn’t have dreamed that Pingree would win by twenty-six points.

Blame Malcolm Smith.  The 6-3 junior had fifteen points in those first ten minutes including a jam and a three long ones and Winchendon was definitely in contention (22-20).

But the rest of the way?  Pingree just kept on putting up points but the tightened Highlander defense kept Winchendon from doing the same.  Switching freshman Justin Assad to cover Malcolm Smith limited the Winch star to seven points over the last twenty-two minutes.

Kyle Lentini (17 points) gets two

Kyle Lentini (17 points) gets two

Justin had fifteen points in the first half and Kyle Lentini had eleven.  The Pingree lead was twelve (38-26) at the half.

The Highlanders put the game out of reach quickly in the second half.  Two Johnny Spears’ free throws, a Reese Fulmer three, a Justin Assad jump shot, and two Connor Reardon layups were the points in an 11-2 run.  This collection of offense gave Pingree a twenty-one point spread (49-28) and the suspense about the winner ended.

I have seen Pingree play a few times and seen them look good on occasion.  They were collectively “good” in this one, in my opinion.

The reason?  The team put out a little extra effort in all areas to make up for the loss of freshman Alonzo Jackson.  Pingree was also helped by having plenty of student support in the stands.

Justin Assad had an eye-catching twenty-six points.  In Pingree’s half-court offense he could get any shot he wanted.  He was also quick enough in the open floor to fill a passing lane on Highlander fastbreaks.  The freshman had crowd-pleasing jams in both halves.

This was the best game I’ve seen Connor Reardon play.  The junior had plenty of rebounds and didn’t hesitate to take the ball to the basket.

Johnny Spears ahead of Isaiah Ruffen

Johnny Spears ahead of Isaiah Ruffen

Best player?  Had to be Johnny Spears.  The blazing speed and the in-your-face defense on the other team’s ball handler are to be seen in every game he plays.  The difference today?  He played more like Rajon Rondo.  How? He seemed determined to set up teammates rather than looking for his own scoring chances.  He set up teammates off the dribble, on the fly, as well as long-range and nearby.  It was pretty to watch and a big reason why the Pingree offense looked so good all game long.

Pingree’s defense tightened considerably after the first ten minutes.  Winchendon settled into perimeter offense and on this day the long ones weren’t falling.

Reese Fulmer took over as 5th starter and hit two three’s.

I knew that I was at a private school game when the student section was allowed to have noisemakers.  Believe me, those noisemakers were hard to miss!

Pingree Boxscore

Winchendon Boxscore

(All of the pictures above and below enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Connor Reardon and Mustafa Ozgumus

Connor Reardon and Mustafa Ozgumus

Malcolm Smith guarded by Justin Assad

Malcolm Smith guarded by Justin Assad

Mustafa Ozgumus defended by Connor Reardon (12 points)

Mustafa Ozgumus defended by Connor Reardon (12 points)

Malique McLaren launches from long range

Malique McLaren launches from long range

Senior Lucas Reeve shoots a free throw

Senior Lucas Reeve shoots a free throw

Opening tip with Pingree student section in the background

Opening tip with Pingree student section in the background

Nino Leone and Seamus Bell

Nino Leone and Seamus Bell

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Filed under Pingree, Winchendon

Pingree School cruises past Concord Academy 62-47 in EIL boys basketball

Kyle Lentini (17 points) blocks Malin Segal (21 points)

Kyle Lentini (17 points) blocks Malin Segal (21 points)

Sam Stogdon (14 points) and Kyle Lentini battle

Sam Stogdon (14 points) and Kyle Lentini battle

(Hamilton) Pingree School gained twenty-point separation from Concord Academy early in the second half and cruised to a 62-47 win on Friday night in Eastern Independent League boys basketball action.

Pingree (10-3) combined a turnover-producing defense with segment of 6 ½ minutes of nearly unanswered offense to get the job done.

The visitors found themselves in double teams almost anywhere they had the ball. Steals and bad passes were frequent as CA registered, by my count, twenty turnovers in the first half and ten more in the second half.

If CA could have subtracted a certain 6 ½ minutes of this game, they would have been in a tight game (like last year) but unfortunately for Concord they couldn’t and had to live with the effects of a 19-2 Pingree run.

CA (6-3) made enough shots in the first thirteen minutes (Malin Segal has ten points including two 3’s) to trail by a very manageable two points, 23-21.

Griffin Beal gets in clean for two

Griffin Beal gets in clean for two

What Pingree did to Concord over the last three minutes of the first half, and the first 3 ½ minutes of the second half, will not appear on any season-highlights video on the campus of Concord Academy.

Let’s take care of the final three minutes of the first half first.  The Highlanders scored the last ten points of the first half despite missing five free throws.  CA registered seven of their twenty first-half turnovers during this segment.  CA also missed the front end of two one-and-one free throw attempts.

Kyle Lentini (17 points) hit a jump shot, stole a CA pass, and made a layup in the final twenty seconds.

Pingree had a 33-21 lead, as a result, at halftime.

Concord had the first points of the second half (Sam Stogdon layup) but then were victimized by another scoring drought.  The next three minutes of playing time saw only Pingree points go up…….nine of them.  At the end of it, what had been a competitive game earlier (23-21), became out of hand (42-23).

Justin Assad (13 points) floats in the lane

Justin Assad (13 points) floats in the lane

During the early second-half run of Pingree offense, Justin Assad (13 points) had a three and a layup, while Kyle Lentini converted a rebound, and Alonzo Jackson made two free throws.

Concord did score more points than Pingree the rest of the way but as they say in farm country, “The cows had left the barn.”

Malin Segal (21 points) and Sam Stogdon (14 points) reached double figures for CA.  Many of their points came against the Pingree reserves in the second half.

CA employed a 1-3-1 half court zone.  Pingree’s willingness to make extra passes turned up juicy shots for teammates closer to the basket.  The Highlanders made just one three (Justin Assad) but didn’t need the long ball in this game.

Johnny Spears

Johnny Spears

The constant Pingree pressure forced CA to play a lot faster than I suspect they were comfortable with.  Good defense is a team thing but Johnny Spears stands out in the Highlander defense.  He is as capable of stealing the ball, even from good dribblers, as anyone I’ve seen this season.

The two teams meet again on February 1st at Concord Academy.  If CA can upgrade their ball management that meeting could well produce a closer game than today’s was.

Those of us who like to chase the good matchups might want to get January 30th circled now.  That’s when Beaver Country Day School visits Hamilton.  Both teams are currently undefeated in EIL play.  I saw Beaver defeat Pingree, 54-36, last February at Pingree.

Pingree boxscore

Concord Academy boxscore

(All of the pictures above and below enlarge considerably and get in better focus if you click on them.)

Alex Bernardi

Alex Bernardi

Jack Anderson goes for the block

Jack Anderson goes for the block

Johnny Spears surrounded

Johnny Spears surrounded

Malin Segal entertains Reese Fulmer

Malin Segal entertains Reese Fulmer

Kyle Lentini shoots over Sam Stogdon

Kyle Lentini shoots over Sam Stogdon

Lucas Reeve

Lucas Reeve

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Filed under Concord Academy, Pingree

Regular season pictures I’ve taken of MIAA tournament-qualifying basketball team members

The pictures are sorted by Divisions and boys/girls.

Click on a picture to enlarge it.

Division 1 North

#1 seed – St. John’s Prep (19-1)

Pat Connaughton

Mike Carbone

#3 seed – Lynn English (19-2)

Keandre Stanton

Travonne Berry-Rogers

 

#5 seed – Central Catholic (19-2)

Jimmy Zenevitch

Luis Puello

 

#11 seed – Andover (14-5)

Joe Bramanti

 

 

 

 

#14 seed – Everett (12-8)

Emo Deschommes

Alain Jeanty

 

Division 2 North

#1 seed – Wilmington (17-3)

Vinny Scifo
Tim McCarthy

 

 

 

 

 

 

#5 seed – Salem (15-5)

Antonio Reyes
Dario/Raphy Medrano

 

 

 

 

 

#3 seed – North Andover (16-4)

Zach Karalis

Derek Collins

 

 

 

 

 

 

#11 seed – Masconomet

Adam Bramanti
Zach Zaniewski

 

 

 

 

 

 

Division 3 North 

 #1 seed – Hamilton-Wenham (15-3)

Stephen Tam

 

 

 

 

 

#5 seed – Newburyport (13-7)

Matt Leavitt

Eric Meyer

 

#8 seed – Pentucket (11-9)

Corey McNamara

Will Angelini

 

 

 

 

 

Division 4 North

#2 seed – Manchester-Essex (16-4)

Joe Mussachia

Sean Nally

 

#8 seed – Georgetown (12-8)

Johnny Spears and Tyler Wade

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Division 1 North (Girls)

 #6 seed – Masconomet (15-3)

Brooke Stewart

 

 

 

 

 

Division 3 North

#4 seed – Ipswich (13-7)

Hannah O'Flynn

Nyra Constant

#5 seed – Newburyport (13-7)

Molly Rowe

Beth Castantini

 

 #7 seed – Triton (11-9)

Jen Rock

Alyssa Conley

#3 seed – Pentucket (18-4)

Alex Moore

Tess Nogueira

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Filed under Everett, Uncategorized

Town Common Photo

This picture appeared on the front page of The Town Common (February 16th -22nd, 2011) with the following caption: “Johnny Spears (#4) of Georgetown defends Darren Lewis (#10) of Triton during the Vikings, 65-49, win on February 9th at Triton.”

The photo was taken at night in the very well-lighted Triton gymnasium.

Hard to resist a picture of (arguably) the two best players in the game when they are together.  They also were not moving at any speed which lessened blurring possibilities.

I used my Canon EOS Rebel T1i camera.  I was shooting in the TV mode.  Shutter speed was 1/160, F-stop 5.0, Exposure compensation + 1/3, and ISO at 1600.

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Filed under Town Common, Town Common Photo