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Hot-shooting Amesbury takes down Manchester-Essex 77-58

Jaden Keliher (26 points) dribbles by Lars Arntsen

Rocco Kokinacis (11 points) splits two defenders

(Amesbury MA) There was no off button for the Amesbury Indians on this night.

Amesbury (8-3) jumped all over a very good Manchester-Essex team with a convincing, 77-58, win on Monday night in Cape Ann League action.

The Indians had a 25-5 final quarter against Hamilton-Wenham the other night and suffered a painful 63-50 loss to the Generals.

“We learned a lot from that loss,” said AHS coach Tom Comeau post-game.  “We have to take care of the basketball, win the 50/50 battles, and rebound.  We took care of all three phases tonight.”

Manchester-Essex (9-2) used multiple defenses but couldn’t slow down Amesbury.

Kellen Furse (11 points) passes out of an Amesbury double team

“We scored fifty-eight points,” said ME coach Tim St. Laurent afterwards.  “That should have been enough to win but we couldn’t contain them on the defensive end.  They were making shots and they were attacking us.  We didn’t keep them from getting to the rim.”

Amesbury built up a twenty-point lead (41-21) in the first half.

The Hornets cut that lead to eleven (61-50) at the start of the final quarter.

“I thought in the second half that we could get all the way back, but Amesbury was the hotter team tonight,” said Coach St. Laurent.

When ME narrowed the lead to eleven, the Indians answered with their third nine-point run of the game and back up the lead went to twenty (70-50) with four minutes left.

Senior Jaden Keliher (26 points) scored points in the breakaway first half (19) and then handled ME’s backcourt pressure in the second half.

“We came out and played hard,” said Jaden afterwards.  “We played together.”

Kyle Donovan (14 points) was a strong interior presence for the Indians

Junior Kyle Donovan (14 points) dominated the inside for AHS.

“Kyle was a ‘man’ out there,” said Coach Comeau.  “He plays hard and he’s a smart player.”

Tonight’s game did not get out of hand immediately.

The Hornets trailed only, 10-7, after five minutes. But then the first nine-point run kicked in.  Jimmy Gjikopulli (13 points) turned an ME miscue into a layup and followed that with a successful jump shot.  Jaden Keliher added a layup and a free throw and Ethan Catania converted a rebound.  Up the home team went, 19-7.

The Indians started the second quarter with another collection of consecutive points.

Play on the floor

Rocco Kokinacis (11 points) got to the rim twice.  Jimmy Gjikopulli converted his own rebound and Jaden Keliher added an old-fashioned 3-point play.  That boosted the AHS advantage to 28-11 only two minutes into the second quarter.

Amesbury was ahead, 43-24, at the half.

That lead would extend to 60-27 with two minutes left in the third quarter.  It looked like a cruise to the final buzzer for the Indians.  The Hornets, however, had other ideas!

Over the next 2 ½ minutes of playing time, the Hornets that I saw defeat Bishop Fenwick in double overtime, showed up.  Their defense was effective, and they made shots.  Visions of a big comeback started to take shape.

AJ Pallazola led a ME comeback attempt

Sophomore AJ Pallazola sparked the Hornets with a jump shot and two assists as ME put together a 13-1 segment stretching into the final quarter.

That 61-50 deficit looked manageable with 7 ½ minutes of playing time remaining.

“We called a timeout and things got settled down,” said Jaden Keliher.  “Then we went out there and kept them from making a comeback.”

Twice Kyle Donovan scored from in close and Jaden Keliher got to the basket.  Then Jimmy Gjikopulli got loose in the lane and added a free throw.  Back the lead went to twenty (70-50) and the Indians were home safe.

Sometimes backcourt turnovers will lead to rallies, but the Hornets pressure couldn’t get there tonight.

Jaden Keliher

“Jaden (Keliher) is strong with the ball,” said Coach Comeau.  “We have three guards who really play well so it’s hard to press us.”

Mason Paccone (15 points) led the ME scorers.  The Hornets senior drained three from long range.  Kellen Furse finished with eleven points.

Jaden Keliher: “We wanted to take away Kellen Furse and #12 (Jack Shaw).  Kellen is a great player.  I have a lot of respect for him.  I’ve grown up playing him.”

Coach Comeau: “Hamilton-Wenham came back against us and we let it snowball and get away from us.  We discussed before the game that we needed to learn from it.  They’re fast learners!”

Jaden Keliher: “Points are nice but getting a W at the end is what it’s all about.”

The Indians were 9-10 last season.

Pentucket players were in the audience at tonight’s game.

Amesbury box

Manchester-Essex box

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

Rocco Kokinacis

Coach Tom Comeau and Jaden Keliher in the closing minute

Frank Wood

Jaden Keliher breaks past Frank Wood

Jaden Keliher in close for two

Jimmy Gjikopulli

Kellen Furse and Jimmy Gjikopulli

Cam and Jaden Keliher guard Kellen Furse

Kellen Furse pressured by Rocco Kokinacis

Kyle Donovan

 

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Manchester-Essex bests Bishop Fenwick 76-74 in 2 OTs

Manchester-Essex celebrates win over Bishop Fenwick

Jason Romans defends AJ Pallazola

(Peabody MA) The two coaches called the game, “great” and “awesome,” and who could argue?

Manchester-Essex defeated Bishop Fenwick 76-74 in double overtime on Sunday afternoon.

There were fifteen lead changes and six ties and there could have been one more lead change if Jason Romans (27 points) had connected on the game’s final 3-point attempt.

The Crusaders (4-2) had four-point leads in both overtimes but the Hornets (6-0) just wouldn’t go away.

Kellen Furse (29 points) down the lane

Senior Kellen Furse (29 points) had ten of his points in the fourth quarter as ME rallied back from a seven-point deficit.

“We press and we fast break,” said Kellen post-game.  “I was exhausted after the first quarter, never mind after two overtimes.  Our ability to sub in our one-minute guys to give us a break is huge.  Our depth is awesome.”

Fenwick led, 74-70, in the second OT after a Hornet turnover led to a Kobe Estes layup with 1:34 left.  Those, however, would be the last points the home team would get.

A rebound basket plus one by ME junior Jack Shaw (15 points) and an AJ Pallazola layup after a BF five-second inbounding violation put the Hornets on top for good, 75-74.  Kellen Furse would add a free throw in the closing seconds.

Jason Romans (27 points)

“We competed hard,” said Fenwick coach Kevin Moran afterwards.  “That’s a credit to the players.  Our execution probably wasn’t as good as it should have been.  That one is on the coaching staff.”

A turning point in the game may well have been when Fenwick’s tallest player, junior Christian Loescher (12 points), fouled out in the first overtime.

“My eyes lit up when that happened,” said ME coach Tim St. Laurent post-game.  “Christian is a very good player.  With him out, I knew that we could go right at them.”

“When we lost Christian’s presence, it made a difference,” recalled Coach Moran.  “He does tend to get himself in foul trouble once in a while.  He’s one of the better athletic big guys around.”

Jack Shaw at the line late in the game

The two teams were tied 59-59 with three minutes left in regulation.  Neither team could score in those last three minutes.  The Hornets missed four straight free throws in the final ninety seconds; two each by Kellen Furse and Jack Shaw.

“We haven’t shot much from the free throw line in a tight game like this,” explained Kellen Furse.  “Tomorrow at practice we’ll most definitely be running……..and shooting free throws!”

Sophomore AJ Pallazola covered high-scoring Jason Romans during most of the game.  “He’s a very good player,” said AJ.  “He can shoot and he’s tough coming off screens.”

Jack Shaw finished with fifteen points including seven in the first quarter.  He had two 3’s.

Teammate Mason Paccone registered eighteen points.  He had four 3’s and produced eight points in the second quarter.

The Crusaders turned a 26-25 deficit in the second quarter into a nine-point lead with a run of ten unanswered points.  Both Jason Romans and Christian Loescher contributed two layups and Jason added two free throws for BF.

Manchester-Essex was down 40-32 in the third quarter before consecutive three’s (Mason Paccone, Alex Furse, Jack Shaw) put the Hornets ahead 41-40.

Max Grenert (13 points)

Fenwick had thirteen points from junior Max Grenert (three 3’s) and twelve points for junior Alex Gonzalez (two 3’s).

Bishop Fenwick used a zone defense while ME pressed full-court for the first half and went to a half-court man-to-man during the second half and in the two OT’s.

Coach Tom Comeau of Amesbury was in the house.  The Indians, like Manchester-Essex, are in the Cape Ann League and will face each other twice.

ME and BF played twice last season.  Both games were close.

Coach Moran: “Manchester-Essex is one of the top teams in D4.  We knew that they would be competitive.  They have seniors with lots of experience.”

Coach St. Laurent: “This was two of the best teams in Division 4 going at it.  This was high school basketball at its best.  Fenwick has great guard play and they have bigs that crash the boards.”

Kellen Furse: “This was such a big team win.  They are an incredible D4 team.  This gives us momentum going into our league stretch.”

AJ Pallazola: “It was very intense out there.  They were banging us, and we were bumping them.  We have to improve our foul shooting.”

Bishop Fenwick box

Manchester-Essex box

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

AJ Pallazola

Christian Loescher

Christian Loescher (33) blocks a shot

Frank Wood (23) and Alex Gonzalez (24) reach for a pass

Jack Shaw (15 points) to the basket

Jack Shaw surrounded by Crusaders

Mason Paccone (18 points) guarded by Alex Gonzalez

Max Grenert and Jason Romans double-team AJ Pallazola

Kellen Furse draws a foul on Christian Loescher

Kellen Furse in for two

Kobe Estes (10) puts up a three in the 2nd OT

Manchester-Essex traps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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