lynn english girls basketball team

Calnan exemplifies leadership at English

FILE PHOTO
Rachel Calnan, a forward/center, is the lone senior on the English girls basketball team this season. 

By HAROLD RIVERA

When the Lynn English girls basketball team hosts its senior night on Tuesday, only one player will be honored. That’s because the Bulldogs have just one senior on their roster this season, forward/center Rachel Calnan.

A team captain for the Bulldogs, Calnan is the seasoned veteran among a group of talented underclassmen who have a promising future at English. Calnan, a four-year varsity player, has led the Bulldogs this season under first-year head coach Mackenzie Charles.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better captain in my first year,” Charles said. “We have regular

meetings and we always communicate about the team. She’s a great leader and has a 3.3 GPA as a student. She’s a girl that I want to surround my players around so they can see what it’s like to lead.”

As a freshman in 2014, Calnan was part of the Bulldogs group that went 25-1 and fell to Braintree in the Eastern Mass. Division 1 Final under former coach Fred Hogan. Since then, Calnan has emerged as a team leader.

“Going from an unbelievable team that played at the TD Garden my freshman season to the team we have now teaches me about leadership,” Calnan said. “I’ve played for different coaches and with different players. It’s been a learning experience.”

After Hogan stepped down, Rachael Bradley took over the program for the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 seasons.

“She (Bradley) was a great coach and did a lot for the program,” Calnan said. “She helped me through a lot.”

Bradley then gave way to Charles, the third head coach Calnan has played for in her basketball career at English.

“He’s (Charles) tough but he’s an awesome person,” Calnan said. “He knows how to push you as an individual. He knows what everyone does before they do it. He’s awesome, I love playing for him.”

Charles has similar admiration for his senior captain.

“She forces the other girls around to be more mature but that’s great,” Charles said. “She sets the tone in practice. She leads with her voice and with actions and that’s rare. It’s hard to find a leader who can lead both ways.”

Charles added, “We get our fight from Rachel. We don’t quit and we fight. She’s our leader and a great example of a student-athlete.”

During her sophomore year, Calnan faced a difficult hardship after losing her father, John, who died in 2015. Like his daughters, John was a star hoops player at English.

“I lost my dad my sophomore year,” Calnan said. “He was a star at English, he was amazing.  

Basketball has been an escape for me. He was my best friend and my coach. It helped me become a better person and it helped me build character. Basketball helped me improve as a person because I play for him.”

Calnan, a three-sport captain who also provides leadership on the English soccer and softball teams, comes from a family of athletes. Aside from her late father, Calnan’s older siblings were also stellar athletes. Her older brother, Patrick, played hoops at St. Mary’s. Shannon, her older sister, also captained the English girls basketball team before graduating in 2013. The youngest sibling, Jack, hopes to join the football team at Classical next fall.

Throughout the countless games and practices, Calnan has also had full support from her mother, Kerry.

“She’s my backbone,” Calnan said of her mother. “My entire family has been so supportive. My mom, to have raised four kids, she’s really amazing.”

With her high school basketball career coming to a close, Calnan sees the Bulldogs moving forward in the coming seasons. The combination of Charles’ direction and a group of skilled underclassmen makes Calnan believe she’s leaving the team in good hands.

“They’re going to be perfectly fine,” Calnan said. “They’ll improve even more, without a doubt. Everyone has heart on this team and the drive to win.”

What Calnan will miss most about the team is the family feeling that she’s been a part of for the past four seasons.

“I’ll miss that family atmosphere,” Calnan said. “Everyone has your back and you have everyone’s back. The team’s so supportive. It goes beyond basketball for me.”

Added Calnan, “These girls are my best friends. Even though we didn’t win all our games, we improved so much from last season.”

Although Calnan’s high school basketball days are numbered, she still has one more season left in her athletic career with the softball team. Calnan, a shortstop, feels the Bulldogs are primed for a big season under new coach Cara Crowley.

“The coaches are very optimistic,” Calnan said. “The coaches are willing to work hard. I’ve been working with our pitcher, Lindsey Lannon. She’s working hard and looking good. It just comes down to execution. People need to step up to the plate.”

In her next endeavors, Calnan hopes to study criminology and sociology in college. She hasn’t decided what school she’ll attend, but said the education she’s received at English has prepared her for the next step.

“English is tough in some classes but from what I’ve heard from friends who are already in college it has prepared them,” Calnan said. “The education I’ve received at English is really beneficial.”

 

Bulldogs win in Carr’s honor

ITEM PHOTO BY KATIE MORRISON
From left, Lynn English basketball players Tommy Rijo, Javonte Edwards and Angel Soto stand arm-in-arm during a moment of silence for former coach Mike Carr, who died Friday following a battle with cancer.

By HAROLD RIVERA 

LYNN — Lynn English boys basketball coach Steve Stranahan spoke with a heavy heart after the Bulldogs defeated Danvers, 81-52, on Tuesday night at Cavanagh Field House. Tuesday’s contest was English’s first game since the death of former coach Mike Carr, who led the Bulldogs program from 2010 until his passing last Friday. Carr’s death came after a year-long battle with cancer.

“Every win from here on out is special,” Stranahan, who will coach the Bulldogs for the remainder of the season, said. “He was my best friend. I’ve known him for years. He was a great friend of mine, so it’s special to me. I’m honored to be able to coach this team.”

Tuesday’s win is the second victory in a row for the Bulldogs, after English trounced Peabody 81-50 last Friday.

“It’s huge,” Stranahan said. “I wasn’t at the game Friday, I was in the hospital with Coach. When I heard what happened (at the game), it just made me feel so good. Coach would’ve loved it. Maybe he was here in the building.”

Stranahan added, “These guys have taken a lot of pride. They’re all ‘for Carr’ in the huddles, and they mean it. That’s what’s special.”

Ivenson Lopes and Sean Rooney traded threes in the opening minute of the game. English’s Javonte Edwards took over for the remainder of the first quarter, scoring eight points in the period. Dariel De Mota’s layup in the closing seconds of the quarter gave English a 19-11 lead after one.

Edwards carried his hot hand into the second quarter, knocking down a pair of jumpers to give English a 12-point lead at 23-11. Danvers answered the bell with a 7-0 spurt to cut the deficit to 26-20 behind a pair of baskets from Teddy Vaillancourt.

“We got up by 12 and they started coming back,” Stranahan recalled. “There was a timeout in the process and we just talked about it. When we play defense, we get after it. If we’re not playing defense, we’re an average team. That’s what coach Carr stressed. We’re not doing anything differently than he did.”

The Bulldogs responded with an 16-4 rally to close the second quarter. Calvin Seng hit a pair of threes in the process and English led 42-24 at the half. English made a total of nine threes in the win.

“We were trying to work off our transition baskets,” Stranahan said. “We got our threes in the flow of the game, inside-out knock-down threes. It adds a lot of energy.”

Edwards didn’t slow down in the second half. The junior forward scored ten points in the third quarter, including a layup and a jump shot in the final minute of the period. Tyshawn Anderson jumped into the scoresheet with a pair of buckets and the Bulldogs maintained their lead at 63-45 after three.

In the fourth, English’s victory was in the bag. The Bulldogs opened a 30-point advantage, their largest lead of the night, in the closing minutes of the game. Anderson scored six points in the quarter and English rolled to the win, 81-52.

Edwards led all scorers with 28 points.

“He’s (Edwards) a super athletic kid,” Stranahan said. “He’s playing with a lot of heart. These guys, they all are, with Coach Carr’s passing. He’s playing with pride in Coach Carr’s memory.”

Seng scored 19 points, including five makes from beyond the arc. Lopes added 14 points, while Anderson scored ten off the bench.

For Danvers, Rooney scored 11 points and Justin Roberto added ten.

English is back in action on Friday when the team visits Beverly.

Prior to Tuesday’s game, a moment of silence was held in Carr’s memory. The Bulldogs also wore black ribbons attached to their jerseys.

“Our old AD Gary Molea suggested it,” Stranahan said. “They did it for the girls game. We wore black ribbons in his memory. It’s all special to us.”

Carr’s funeral service will be on Thursday morning, at 9:30 a.m., at the Solimine Funeral Home.

 

GIRLS BASKETBALL ROUNDUP: English defense steps up

FILE PHOTO
Ely Guity and the Bulldogs closed out a win over Gloucester on Tuesday. 

By HAROLD RIVERA AND MIKE ALONGI 

The Lynn English girls basketball team has struggled to close out games this season. Tuesday night, they finally finished a game the way they’d hope to. Behind a number of key stops down the stretch, English downed Gloucester, 52-46.

“They played together and they played hard,” English coach Mackenzie Charles said of his players. “We played really good defense with key stops at the end of the game. We haven’t finished a game all season, we’ve been having problems with that. We’ve been struggling with rebounds so I think the combination of those things equalled a win.”

Dorathy Ezemba led the winning efforts with 18 points and 12 rebounds.

“She (Ezemba) rebounded well,” Charles said. “She pushes the ball well and she’s very physical.”

Ely Guity scored 16 points, grabbed eight rebounds and dished five assists.

“She (Guity) had a great game, five of her rebounds were on the offensive glass,” Charles said. Charles also credited Rachel Calnan and Shelya Manon for their performances in the win. English is back in action on Friday when the Bulldogs visit Marblehead. “We’ll get back to practice tomorrow and work hard,” Charles said. “We understand this in a win but Friday’s another game.”

Lynn Tech 44, Greater Lawrence 28

Alondra Sanchez had the hot hand offensively for the Tigers, putting up 17 points. Annmarie Texiera added eight and Jamila Constantine scored six. Malvelis Hernandez was solid on defense.

The Tigers (3-5) had to climb back from an early 8-0 deficit, but coach Kaitlyn Wechsler said that after a few timeouts and conversations with her team, something clicked.

“We turned up the pressure and worked very well together,” Wechsler said. “It was like a switch flipped and we started to figure it out. It was an overall great team win.”

Revere 65, Swampscott 56

A tied game after a quarter, the Patriots outscored the Big Blue 21-6 in the second quarter to pull away. Despite putting up 24 points in the third, Swampscott couldn’t claw all the way back into this one.

Valentina Pepic led Revere with 24 points, Pamela Gonzalez added 18 and Meghan Gotham chipped in with 10.

Archbishop Williams 77, Bishop Fenwick 44

Sam Mancinelli logged 15 points for the Crusaders, five assists and four steals, while Fredi DeGuglielmo added 14 points and Jaxson Nadeau had eight points and four steals.

Peabody 53, Salem 32

The Tanners (3-3) got 13 points from Melissa Gray and nine points and 14 rebounds from Nene Onwuogu. Katie Wallace had eight points.

Peabody will take on Winthrop on Friday night.

Swampscott’s defense stands strong in win over English

ITEM PHOTO BY KATIE MORRISON
Swampscott’s Hannah Leahy reaches out to try and deflect a rebound pulled down by English’s Rachel Calnan.

By HAROLD RIVERA

LYNN — The Swampscott girls basketball team prides itself on defense. Tuesday evening, the Big Blue brought their defensive showcase to the Boverini Tournament at Lynn English as they topped the Bulldogs, 44-32.

English started the game off on the right foot as Dorathy Ezemba scored six points in a first quarter that ended in a 10-10 tie. From there on out, the Bulldogs struggled to find rhythm on offense.

“I thought we took a step back in the communication phase today,” English coach Mackenzie Charles said. “Some of the girls were a bit overwhelmed with the tension of that game, so that was new to them. We have to play with a better effort, consistently.”

On the flip side, the Big Blue could hang their hats on another strong defensive performance as they held a talented Bulldogs team, that suits plenty of scoring weapons on its roster, to just 32 points.

“For us it’s defense first,” Swampscott coach Katelyn Leonard said. “We know if we can limit teams in scoring, we can win the game.”

The Big Blue built their first stable lead of the game in the second quarter when they came out of the gates with a 5-0 run. Rachel Calnan stopped the bleeding for English when she knocked down a free throw to get the Bulldogs back on the board. Swampscott led 22-15 at the half.

In the third quarter, Swampscott opened with a pair of buckets from Hannah Leahy and Ella Parker. English’s Shelya Manyon sunk a hook shot seeking to get the Bulldogs back in the game, but Swampscott’s Maggie DiGrande hit a three-pointer in retaliation. The Big Blue led 35-23 after the third quarter.

In the fourth, English began to find life again. Tommi Hill hit a three pointer and Ely Guity knocked in a jump shot to cut Swampscott’s lead down to seven points.

“In the late third quarter and early fourth, it seemed like they played a little better,” Charles said. “We just can’t dig a hole like that and expect us to get out of it.”

Unfortunately for English, Swampscott buckled down on defense in the final minutes of the game and walked away with a 44-32 win. The Big Blue advance to the championship game of the tournament today at 5 p.m., where they’ll clash against St. Mary’s.

“I know they’re really tough,” Leonard said of the Spartans. “It’s good to play good teams. They can only make us better. We’re going to go right at them and give them the best game we can.”

Ezemba led the Bulldogs with 11 points. English will face Classical in the consolation game today at 2 p.m.


Harold Rivera can be reached at hrivera@itemlive.com.