Tag Archives: Mike O’Brien

Undefeated North Reading beats Lynnfield 62-36 to win thirteenth in boys basketball

One of the four dunks John Mastascusa (20 points) had against Lynnfield

One of the four dunks John Mastascusa (20 points) had against Lynnfield

Pat Kearney dribbled into some strong North Reading second-half defense

Pat Kearney dribbled into some strong North Reading second-half defense

(Lynnfield) I swear it was the same group of North Reading Hornets playing the second half that played the first half.

You had to wonder, however,  after the North Reading boys started the second half trailing by a point (23-22) and then just thrashed Lynnfield with a twenty-five point third quarter.

In that same big point-producing quarter the Hornets were able to limit the Pioneers (8-5) to only six points and won going away, 62-36, on Friday night in Cape Ann League action.

The win keeps the Hornets undefeated (13-0) and you have to  wonder if anyone ahead in the CAL can keep them from a perfect regular season.  Not likely, from what I saw in this game.

The attraction of this game was that on January 2nd these two teams had played a very tight, 44-41, match at North Reading.  The Pioneers had the ball at the end of that game with a chance to tie it.  So there was history to suggest that in a rematch played at Lynnfield, the NR streak might be stopped.

That thought was still in my head after a half.  Undersized Lynnfield came out flying, and the taller, slower Hornets just couldn’t keep up for much of the first half.

Conor Sullivan (15 points) goes for a block against Chris Capozzoli

Conor Sullivan (15 points) goes for a block against Chris Capozzoli

North Reading had a run of five straight turnovers to start the second quarter while Lynnfield ran six straight points (two layups by Connor Sullivan and another by Adam Buchanan) near the end of that quarter.  The Pioneer point-streak put them up 23-18 with 1:23 left and led to a noisy Hornet timeout.

The visitors responded with all four points after that (John Mastascusa layup and a Tommy Hogan layup off a turnover) to trail, 23-22, at halftime.

I’m guessing that the noisy NR timeout extended into the locker room at halftime.  The Hornets came out just before halftime ended and took no warm-ups.

The second half started with 6-4 John Mastascusa (20 points) jamming home a rebound and Pat Kearney answering with two free throws.  So after a minute Lynnfield still had a one-point lead and another tight finish looked likely.

After that?  You almost had to be there to even fathom the way North Reading went off and Lynnfield went under from there on.  The simple math is that NR outscored Lynnfield, 38-11, the rest of the way.

It was a long second half for Lynnfield coach Scott MacKenzie

It was a long second half for Lynnfield coach Scott MacKenzie

2 ½ minutes after Lynnfield had the one-point lead, North Reading ran off eleven straight points and Coach Scott MacKenzie had burned two timeouts trying to find some way to stop what was happening.  The Pioneers were down, 35-25.

The difference?  The Hornets took much better care of the ball. The Pioneers gambled defensively all over the court and when that tactic didn’t work the visitors had layups.  Mike O’Brien had five in the run, while John Mastascusa had four, and Tommy Hogan two.

Conor Sullivan (15 points) finally hit a shot for Lynnfield to end their drought but only temporarily.  The next 2 ½ minutes saw NR put another run together (ten points) to vault ahead, 45-27, with 1:25 to go in the third quarter.  Mike O’Brien, Tommy Hogan, John Mastascusa, and Evan Wade registered points during this second big collection of unanswered points.

The rest of the game was played but not to determine the winner or loser.  There are rules that say you have to!  The Division Three Hornets, with a twenty-five point third quarter, had wrapped this one up early.  There was plenty of reserve action in the final quarter.

One of the things that killed Lynnfield in the second half was getting caught in close on their offensive end.  Over and over again, an NR player would get a rebound and send teammates off on fastbreaks.  In the first half, the Pioneers made enough shots so that they had time to get into some sort of defensive position. Not in the second half.

John Mastascusa (10) elevates

John Mastascusa (10) elevates

This was my first look at John Mastascusa.  I was impressed.  John lives in North Reading but until this year had been at Malden Catholic.  He was good enough in the Catholic Conference to earn All-Star honors after last season.  Suddenly in his senior year he decided to play in his hometown with teammates he was on travel teams with starting in fourth grade.

The usual pattern is that when a public school player becomes good enough they transfer to a private school but not in this case.

John can play above the rim, he had four dunks, but he was generally the point guard for North Reading.  His willingness to give up the ball to teammates was noticeable. However, when he wanted to get to the rim he could.  His highlight dunk was a flying put-down of someone else’s missed shot.  That was early in the third quarter.

I liked the hustle of Division Four Lynnfield.  In their excellent first half they forced turnovers and ran every chance they could.  No question it was a frustrating evening for Pat Kearney who was defended into a four-point game.

Both teams play next Tuesday.  North Reading hosts Ipswich while Lynnfield will be at Newburyport.

I chatted with Hornet coach Joe Casey before the game about Division Three.  He told me, “there’s Danvers and then there’s everyone else!”

North Reading was 7-13 last season.  Now they’re heading into territory that Coach Casey said, “they’d never come close to during his years of coaching at North Reading.”

Freshman Adam Buchanan added ten points for Lynnfield.  I would guess that he had at least that many rebounds.

Mike OBrien (13 points) looks for an opening against Paul Pasciuto

Mike OBrien (13 points) looks for an opening against Paul Pasciuto

Mike O’Brien (13 points) and Tommy Hogan (10 points) ended up in double figures for the Hornets.

Lynnfield is in first place in the CAL Small Division but have now lost three straight games.

North Reading has been averaging close to sixty points per game and giving up forty points.  Their shot blockers do not allow many in-close shots when opponents have to run half-court offenses.

I thought that there was a pretty good-sized Cape Ann League crowd on hand.

North Reading boxscore

Lynnfield boxscore

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

Evan Wade and Pat Kearney

Evan Wade and Pat Kearney

loose ball

loose ball

Carl Lipani

Carl Lipani

Adam Buchanan (10 points) shoots over John Fortes

Adam Buchanan (10 points) shoots over John Fortes

Tommy Hogan (10 points)

Tommy Hogan (10 points)

shot blocker

shot blocker

 

 

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Late Rally Gets Newburyport Past North Reading 53-48 in Boys Basketball

Colby Morris launches big three late in the game as Clipper reserves watch.

Carl Lipani (44) takes the last shot for North Reading.

(Newburyport) The Clippers put together a nice package of scoring and defense in the final 4 ½ minutes and defeated North Reading, 53-48, in nonleague play on Friday night at Newburyport High School.

This game was entertainingly close throughout.  The Hornets had seven points leads in the 2nd and 3rd quarters while the best the Clippers could do up until the final minute was a 3-point advantage in the third period.

The Clipper defense limited North Reading to only one point over the final 4+ minutes.  Alex Losh had a huge block when this was a one-point game down the stretch.

Big block by Alex Losh (12) on Mike OBrien (32) late in the game.

The late-game Newburyport offense fell into the able hands of Brett Fontaine trailing 47-42 with 4 ½ minutes left.  On three straight possessions he took the ball right at the Hornet defense and came away with two baskets and two made free throws.  Brett’s work gave the Clippers a slim 48-47 lead with 1 ½ to go.

After an NR miss, the Clippers Ian Michaels broke into the middle of the Hornet defense and drew defenders with him thinking he would drive to the hoop.  Instead he tossed the ball to Colby Morris alone in the corner in front the Newburyport bench.  Bang! The Clippers had a 4-point lead (51-47) with a minute left.

Mike O’Brien followed with a free throw.  He missed the second attempt but teammate Kyle Boucher got the rebound and was fouled.  He missed both – it probably didn’t help him shooting into the Clipper crowd directly under the basket he was shooting at.

The Hornets were eventually able to commit enough fouls to send Brett Fontaine to the foul line with a one-and-one.  He missed and that left NR with plenty of time, after a timeout with eleven seconds, to set up the game-tying shot.

Carl Lipani ended up taking that final shot which missed.  A couple of successful last-second Brett free throws closed the scoring.

North Reading (0-2) had seven-point leads in the middle quarters but just couldn’t put up points down the stretch.

Newburyport (2-0) has rallied late to win both games so far.

Dillon Guthro (44) goes for the block in the first half.

The home-crowd pleaser was sophomore Dillon Guthro.  He had at least four blocks by my count.

Next for Newburyport is a visit to Hamilton-Wenham on Tuesday.  HW coach Doug Hoak was on hand tonight.

North Reading next visits Ipswich on Tuesday.

Newburyport box score

North Reading box score

The pictures enlarge to normal size if you click on them.

Alex Losh layup

Chris Capozzoli gets early third foul

Mike OBrien (32) gets inside Alex Losh (12) for two.

scramble for loose ball

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Filed under Newburyport, North Reading