Morrison: Local teams on the bubble

February 16, 2017

FILE PHOTO
Jamila Constantine and the Lynn Tech girls basketball team are on the tournament bubble. 

By KATIE MORRISON

With the days winding down in the high school hockey and basketball regular seasons, the majority of teams know exactly where they stand. Either they’ve locked up a spot in the MIAA state tournament and are trying to improve their seeding, or their playoff hopes have been dashed and they’re playing out the string.

But the most interesting teams to watch in the final days of the regular season are, of course, those on the bubble.

When a team is fighting for a chance to play in the postseason and every game is make-or-break, it almost serves as a preview of what’s to come in the tournament. There’s a buzz of excitement in the air at these games, and one can’t help but get pumped about the tight games and high-energy atmosphere that’s characteristic of high school playoffs.

There aren’t many teams that are still fighting for the chance to keep playing deep into February and hopefully, for some, into March.

The Lynn Tech Tigers’ girls basketball team is one squad that could punch its ticket to the tournament. At 9-10 with one game left, all the Tigers will have to do is win tonight to grab that elusive 10th win and finish with a .500 record.

All that stands in their way is Chelsea. The two teams have kindled a rivalry that’s heated up this season, and will be burning hot tonight at Tech. The foes have split the season series.

For Tech, it will come down to being on its game offensively. I’ve seen the Tigers shoot well and pour in baskets in transition, but I’ve also seen them struggle to make shots when their opponents force them to slow their game down and be more selective from the floor.

A key player to watch in Tech’s battle with Chelsea is Arianna Anaya. The freshman is arguably the Tigers’ best overall shooter, and definitely their best outside shooter. In Tuesday’s game against Notre Dame, Anaya was hitting threes with ease when she got the chance. If the Red Devils are able to shut down the Tigers in transition, Tech could look to Anaya to knock down a few treys for a boost.

Then there’s the English boys basketball team. The Bulldogs need just one win to secure a spot, and they were hoping to clinch a tournament berth Wednesday night against rival Classical. But English couldn’t get it done, and it will come down to the final game of the Bulldogs’ season.

English will take on Swampscott tonight, a team that has just one win (and none in the Northeastern Conference) this season. After the loss against Classical Wednesday, English coach Steve Stranahan acknowledged that no team can be taken lightly, and the Bulldogs will need to come out and compete if they want to extend their season.

There’s also the Peabody/Lynnfield girls hockey team. This is a brand new situation for the Tanners; not only have they never made the tournament, but just set a single-season record for wins for the program, earning their seventh win against Oakmont Saturday. At 7-7-3, the Tanners are in a good position to make the tournament. Peabody/Lynnfield needs three points over its next three games, which are against Beverly, Fenwick and Melrose. It won’t be a cakewalk for Peabody/Lynnfield; Beverly is undefeated at 16-0-3 and one of the premier teams in the area. The Tanners tied Fenwick earlier in the season, and fell, 2-1, back in December to Melrose. If Peabody/Lynnfield can pull it off, it will be another huge milestone for the program.