MacKenzie Charles

Magicians sneak past Bulldogs in closing minutes

PHOTO BY BOB ROCHE
Marblehead’s Virginia Linzitto drives for a layup between Shayla Manon and Julianna Perry of English. 

By STEVE KRAUSE

MARBLEHEAD — If the Lynn English girls basketball could play with the type of drive and passion at the end of games the way it does at the beginning, things might be a lot different.

For the second time in as many weeks, the Bulldogs got off to a blistering start, but limped home in the fourth quarter. As a result, Marblehead dropped English to 2-7 with a 38-35 win.

“We certainly didn’t have the energy at the end of the game that we had in the beginning,” said English coach Mackenzie Charles. “We had too many turnovers and we gave them too many points in the paint.”

Actually turnovers plagued both teams. However, once Marblehead found its rhythm, early in the second half, the Magicians kept it up while English faltered on a number of occasions.

“I think they just got tired,” said Marblehead’s Wayne Hanscom. “I think we were tired too. They don’t have much depth and neither do we.”

The 5-4 Magicians started out colder than a polar vortex. English came out of the gate running, and built up a 9-0 lead before the Magicians could get a bucket. Ely Guity and Dorathy Ezemba, who scored nine first-quarter points between them, gave English a 13-6 lead after one.

It didn’t get much better for Marblehead at the beginning of the second quarter either. Rachel Calnan and Sheyla Manon scored back-to-back hoops to open the period, and it was 17-6, English. That’s where the Bulldogs started to cool off.

Marblehead co-captains Lindsay Walker (game-high 17 points) and Ashley Stiles (10) began to take over. They made it a point to go to the basket. If they could not hit their shots from the floor, they hit them from the line. Walker sunk four free throws and Stiles one more to close the gap to 18-11 by the break.

It may have been only a 7-point lead, but Marblehead couldn’t do much from the floor in the third quarter either. The Magicians did just enough to keep the game under control. It took a 3-pointer with two seconds left in the period by English’s Tommi Hill to get the lead up to five (27-22) with eight minutes to go.

The fourth quarter turned into a good battle. Walker hit two baskets right away to whittle English’s lead down to a point, but Calnan hit one to get it back up to three (29-26). Both teams went through large stretches of missed baskets and turnovers before Walker brought Marblehead to within a point again (29-28) before Hannah Garthe hit a trey with 3:54 to go to give the Magicians their first lead of the game (31-29). Guity tied it back up right Walker and Stiles hit back-to-back baskets to make it 35-31.

Guity sunk a basket in to make it a two-point game, and Marblehead’s Montana Joyce hit one free throw after that, but it was still a one-possession game with 30 seconds to go.

English was angling for a 3-pointer in hopes of tying the game and sending into overtime, but Marblehead guarded the perimeter effectively and Ezemba settled on a two-pointer, which forced English to foul. Stiles hit two free throws to put the game out of reach as time ran out.


Steve Krause can be reached at skrause@itemlive.com. 

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.

Morrison: Classical-English game was a thriller

FILE PHOTO
The Classical bench reacts after Paris Wilkey makes two of three free throws to tie the game.

By KATIE MORRISON

Tuesday, the first of two “rivalry days” of the basketball season, I thought the big-ticket game of game of the night would be the English-Classical boys basketball game, but boy, was I wrong.

The girls game was where the action was.

To be honest, though, there wasn’t much excitement for the first 3½ quarters, except for the fact that the Bulldogs, after losing by 23 points to Classical just the week before, seemed to be well on their way to their second victory of the season.

It looked like a big upset was in the making. And for the first 28 minutes, every time the Rams looked as if they were hitting their stride, the Bulldogs would pull away again.

But then, Classical came alive and went on a 12-0 run. All of a sudden, shots that weren’t falling earlier were finding their way through the hoop. The Rams were pulling down rebounds on defense and making the most of second chances on offense.

And just like that, with under a minute to play, it was a game again.

The final play of regulation was a thriller. The Bulldogs were able to contain Paris Wilkey, the Rams’ best shooter, in the first half, but the junior started finding her groove later in the game. Down by two, 43-41, with the final seconds of the game ticking away, Wilkey got the ball and launched a shot from behind the arc as the buzzer sounded. The shot was no good. But Wilkey was fouled, and the Rams had new life.

So, all eyes were on Wilkey, standing alone at the line. There aren’t that many instances in sports when the game is in the hands of just one player. In a hockey shootout, the focus is divided between the goalie and the shooter, depending on which team you’re pulling for. In baseball and softball it’s the same, with equal pressure on a batter and pitcher.

But being all alone, just you and the basket, your teammates hanging on each shot, your ability to perform one of the fundamental parts of the game on display … it’s a vulnerable position.

At first, everyone in the gym, even English fans and players, were quiet, everyone watching with bated breath, at least until English coach Mackenzie Charles encouraged the crowd to make some noise. But that didn’t distract Wilkey, who nailed the first shot.

She missed the second, and I think every person in the gym held their breath as she put up the third, which went in to tie the game.

Even with all eyes on her, Wilkey was calm, cool and collected at the line.

“Nothing (was going through my head), I just focused on the rim and making the shot, just focused on me,” said Wilkey, who added that she blocked out everything except the rim.

It was only fitting that overtime was just as exciting as the final play of regulation.

Priscill Alouidor put back an offensive rebound to give the Rams a four-point lead, 50-46, with time winding down.

“I was just really nervous, because I didn’t want to mess up, but I was really focused and my teammates kept my spirits up and kept me motivated,” Alouidor said after the game.
And while Alouidor’s shot was the game-winner, it was English’s Ely Guity’s shot that was the loudest in overtime. After Alouidor gave the Rams the four-point edge, Guity knocked down an improbable three-pointer to bring the Bulldogs within one. Unfortunately for English, there wasn’t enough time to complete the comeback, as it got the ball back with just over a second left.

I wrote last week, after the Rams blew out the Bulldogs, that with the English and Classical girls playing each other three times this season (since the two met in the Boverini Tournament consolation game), maybe the fire of the rivalry wouldn’t burn as hot, especially if Classical, which looked like the definitively stronger team after the first meeting, swept the series.

The Bulldogs proved me wrong Tuesday. It was pretty clear that the Bulldogs have the ability to compete with some of the best teams in the Northeastern Conference. Earlier in the season, English fell by just two points, 52-50, to Danvers, which is still undefeated at 5-0. And if it weren’t for the perfect storm of Classical sparking a hot streak and English failing to hit shots in the final four minutes of Tuesday’s game, the Bulldogs might have won going away against a team that should be in the mix at the top of the NEC.

One thing is for sure, though. Circle Feb. 16 on your calendar. That’s the next time these two teams meet, and if the game is anything like it was Tuesday, it will be a blast.


Katie Morrison can be reached at kmorrison@itemlive.com. 

Classical sneaks by English in OT thriller

ITEM PHOTO BY KATIE MORRISON
Paris Wilkey throws up a shot through a trio of English defenders.

By STEVE KRAUSE 

LYNN — This one was about four minutes from being in the bag. English was up by a dozen, and it looked as if it just wasn’t Classical’s night.

But all of a sudden, the Rams’ girls basketball team caught fire, just at the same time the Bulldogs got ice cold. The result was a 12-0 run over the last four minutes that brought Classical even at the buzzer.

Then, in overtime, Classical looked as if it had the game well in hand, only to see English hit an improbable three-pointer and have a chance to win the game with 1.3 seconds left.

It wasn’t to be. Classical hung on for a 50-49 win that left Rams coach Tom Sawyer visibly exhausted, and English’s Mackenzie Charles searching for answers.

“I’m proud of my girls,” said Charles, whose Bulldogs fell to Classical by 23 points in last week’s Boverini Tournament. “They don’t know how good they can be. I  have a very good team, and they’ll be good once they know how good they are.

“But,” he said, “we can’t be giving up leads like that.”

On the other side of the floor, Sawyer had nothing but praise for the Bulldogs.

“We came in here last week and beat them by 23, and we come here tonight and they play us like this. You have to give them a lot of credit.

“But our girls deserve credit too,” said Sawyer. “They kept coming back and coming back. They persevered.”

English was able to build a 12-point lead (43-31) with 4:18 to go when Juliana Perry hit her second 3-pointer of the game. But that was the last bucket English would score in regulation.

Classical, which gave English several cracks at the basket on the offensive end for large parts of the game, began asserting itself.

“Too many rebounds,” said Charles. “That’s our Achilles heel.”

Although Classical ran off the last 12 points in regulation, it wasn’t without a few hiccups of its own. The Rams turned the ball over twice during that span. But Classical sunk five of seven free throws, no two bigger than the ones Paris Wilkey (who led all scorers with 18 points) drained with no time left on the clock. She was fouled in the act of trying to beat the buzzer with a three as Classical trailed, 43-41. She hit two of the three freebies.

“How about her?” marveled Sawyer. “There was nobody on the line with her, she’s all alone. She was remarkable.”

In overtime, English’s Ely Guity (8 points) opened by hitting one of two foul shots, and Classical’s Priscill Alouidor (7 points) hit a bombs-away 3-pointer to give the Rams a 46-44 lead. After Stacey Abreau hit another freebie, Jeylly Medrano (10 points) sank a jumper to make it 48-45.

Another Abreau  (8 points) free throw brought English within two, but Wilkey hit for two off an offensive rebound and it was 50-46 with 14.9 seconds to go.

Somehow, Guity’s three-point prayer banged off the backboard and straight down, though, and with 10 seconds left, English trailed by one.

The tension heightened as Soneta Srey (12 points) missed both free throws, giving English a shot with 1.3 seconds left.

Charles took three straight timeouts before English finally tried a desperation play, but the shot when over the backboard and Classical had its victory.

“When (Guity) hit that shot off the backboard,” said Sawyer, “I thought maybe this wasn’t going to be our night after all.”

But it turned out to be.


Steve Krause can be reached at skrause@itemlive.com. 

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. 

Montanari leads Danvers past English

PHOTO BY BOB ROCHE
English’s Tommi Hill led all scorers with 17 points on Friday night. 

By HAROLD RIVERA

LYNN — If there were any doubts about whether or not new Lynn English girls basketball coach Mackenzie Charles could move the Bulldogs in the right direction, those question marks were erased on Friday night.

The Bulldogs fell to Danvers, 52-50 at English, but the team showed effort from the opening minute. That’s a positive for Charles and his team.

“We worked hard,” Charles said. “We fought hard. We just made some mental mistakes at the end but I’m so proud of them.”

In the final minute, Dorothy Ezemba’s two-point shot gave English a 50-47 lead. Danvers answered quickly as Julia McNulty nailed a three-pointer to tie the game at 50-50 with 27 seconds remaining.

English came up empty in the following possession, giving Danvers the ball with seven seconds to play. That’s when Elizabeth Montanari became the hero of the night, as the junior hit a game-winning hook shot with 1.7 seconds left to give Danvers a 52-50 lead.

“We had a different play set up,” Danvers coach Pat Veilleux said. “I have to give credit to Julia McNulty who thought enough to give the ball to the post player that was wide open. We had something else set up but when English came out man to man, it was on the girls.”

The clock ran out and Danvers walked off with a come-from-behind win.

“They had a chance to put us away and they didn’t do it,” Veilleux said. “I have to give my girls credit.”

Danvers took an early lead in the first quarter, but English’s Tommi Hill was fouled at the three-point line in the final seconds. Hill, who led all scorers with 17 points, made all three of her free throws and gave the Bulldogs an 11-10 lead at the end of the quarter.

“She (Hill) shot with confidence,” Charles said. “That’s what she’s been doing all preseason. She understands her role, her role is to shoot the ball.”

English’s press defense gave Danvers headaches in the second quarter, as the Bulldogs began to capitalize on Falcons mistakes. Despite their troubles responding to the press, the Falcons kept the game close. Ely Guity’s jump shot at the buzzer gave English a 23-21 lead at halftime.

“For the first time out, I think they played together and supported each other,” Charles said. “I thought they were great teammates and worked hard. I’ll take that effort.”

The Bulldogs padded their lead in the third quarter with a 10-3 run to open the second half. A pair of buckets in the paint by Ezemba and a jump shot made by Sheyla Manon forced the Falcons to call a timeout and regroup. English led 40-33 at the end of the third quarter.

Down seven points with the clock working against them, the Falcons were forced to make shots and do so quickly. Luckily for Danvers, the team answered the call.

“We were resilient,” Veilleux said. “Every time we came out of a timeout or a huddle we said ‘who’s going to make the next play?’ People made plays.”

McNulty and Siobhan Moriarty knocked down a pair of three-pointers and the Falcons began to inch back into the contest. Danvers completed the comeback with McNulty’s game-tying three that set up Montanari for the game-winner.

McNulty and Montanari led Danvers (1-0) with 15 points each.

For English (0-1), Ezemba scored 12 points, showing flashes of muscle in the paint.

“She’s (Ezemba) a versatile girl,” Charles said. “She’s playing a little bit of a different role than she played last year so she’s trying to get used to that role. Her strength is getting to the hoop and being physical and that’s what she did.”

Guity contributed for English with nine points as she ran the team’s offense.

Charles said his team will focus on making adjustments as they aim to improve.

“We have to want it more,” Charles said. “I thought there were too many possessions where they wanted it more than we wanted it. That sounds like we need to be tougher, so we’ll get tougher in practice.”

Charles added, “We’re going to try to play hard and get wins but I’ll take that effort that we showed today.”

English will look to bounce back at Beverly on Monday while Danvers visits Ipswich today.


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

Girls test mettle in Duchane girls basketball jamboree

PHOTO BY BOB ROCHE
Fenwick’s Sam Mancinelli gets a step on Revere’s Tatianna Iacoviello in the Duchane Jamboree Saturday at the Classical gym.

By SCOT COOPER

LYNN — The Paul Duchane Girls Basketball Jamboree is one of the first tests area teams get as they prepare for the upcoming season.

Held every year at the Classical gym, in memory of the man who taught and coached throughout the Lynn school system, the 24th annual jamboree Saturday saw English, Swampscott, Marblehead, Malden, Somerville, Medford, Saugus, Danvers, Hamilton-Wenham, Reading, Peabody, Revere, Bishop Fenwick, Georgetown and Masconomet take part.

The 16 teams each played two quarters, and the stands were filled with fans, and also quite a few area coaches, scouting and filming teams they’ll face somewhere down the line this season.

Classical came out fairly strong against Masconomet in the day’s last game, racing out to a 4-1 lead on four points by Paris Wilkey. The Chieftains took their first lead at 8-6, but a bucket by Irianis Delgado tied the score at eight apiece.

Things went south for the Rams after that, Masconomet cruised to a 29-8 lead before Skyler Creighton swished one for Classical. The Chieftains scored at the buzzer for a 31-10 final.

Rams coach Tom Sawyer said the team has to practice much harder before Tuesday night’s season opener against Everett.  

“I thought we started the game well,” he said. “The kids competed hard all night, we just didn’t finish very well after that good start.

“We’ve got to make adjustments and turn up the intensity at practice before our game with Everett. We need to practice at a much higher intensity level, and carry that high intensity level into games this season,” he said.

English scored four seconds into its game with Georgetown, Ely Guity took the tip and she floored it to the basket for an easy layup. Bulldogs coach Mackenzie Charles was coaching in his first jamboree, a 21-10 win, and he liked the effort by his club Saturday evening.

“It was a really good scrimmage for our team,” he said “I thought we played well. We’re a young team, we have a long way to go and a lot to learn, but I thought we did a good job tonight,” Charles said.

“It’s early and this is a long season, but what we want to do is come out and get better every time out, and I think we did a good job in this scrimmage.

“We have a lot of things that I want to see this team get better at as the season goes on, but I liked the effort tonight from our team,” Charles said. “As long as we improve and learn something every time we step on the court, that’s what I want to see happen with this team this year.”

English senior captain Rachel Calnan was the high scorer against the Royals (9 points), and she said that hard work and communication are going to be key issues that have to be addressed by her team this winter if the Bulldogs are going to be successful.

“I thought we communicated very well on the court, and we need to keep doing that this season,” Calnan said. “We were very aggressive on the boards, and I think that’s a very good thing for our team, we have to keep playing aggressively and communicating on the court every game this season.”

Marblehead was as cold from the floor as it was outside the Classical field house early in its game against Malden. The Magicians heated up very nicely in the second quarter and rolled over the Golden Tornado, 24-10.

The Magicians were led on offense by captains Lindsay Walker and Ashley Stiles, as well as Maddie Lowi and Darcy O’Sullivan. The winners were up 9-6 after one quarter and outscored Malden 15-4 in the second quarter.  

Marblehead coach Wayne Hanscom was pleased the team kept working and broke out of its shooting slump as the game wore on.

“You only play a half, we played everyone, but we did miss a lot of bunnies,” Hanscom said. “We kept working, the girls never got frustrated, and the ball started to drop for us.”

Swampscott zipped out to a 15-1 lead over Somerville after one quarter, and Blue coach Katelyn Leonard played everybody in a 24-18 win. Swampscott’s starting five, Hannah Leahy, Katie Watts, Maggie DiGrande, Nikki Rosa and Ella Parker all scored for Swampscott early, with freshman Olivia Matella knocking down some big threes in the first quarter.

Leonard said it’s always good to have a fast start.

“We looked really strong early on, we were working really well with and without the ball,” Leonard said. “It’s all about defense with us, and I think we played a very solid game today, defensively.”

Saugus took a 15-0 lead into the break against Medford, and cruised past the Mustangs, 29-6.

Sachems coach Mark Schruender liked the high-energy game his team played.

“We started great,” he said. “Too bad we can’t save some of those points. It was a great start for our team.

“The girls were very hungry out there, I thought. You practice for a couple of weeks and see the same faces, so tonight, against another team we came out really well, we played very hard, and I’m happy about that. Let’s hope it continues.”

Peabody had a tough time in its game against Reading. The Tanners had three starters watching the game from the bench with injuries and lost 28-8. Peabody got a bucket from Catherine Manning and free throws by Liz Zaiter, Hannah Pellizzaro Alyssa Alperin and Katie Wallace. Coach Stan McKeen said there is work to do for his team.

“It was tough with three starters on the bench, but we need to get better on defense, and certainly in offense,” McKeen said. “Hopefully everyone will be back on Friday night and we can go out and play better basketball.”

Last year’s Bishop Fenwick team took the state title, and this winter seven of those players are back for coach Adam Debaggis. The Crusaders were able to spoil Revere’s Lianne O’Hara’s Duchane head coaching debut with a 20-15 win. It wasn’t O’Hara’s first Duchane game; she was an assistant for many years with Fenwick.

Revere was coming off a hard-fought, emotional win Friday night at St. Mary’s.

Samantha Mancinelli, Sammi Gallant, Olivia DiPietro and Elizabeth Pica led the way on offense for Fenwick. Valentina Pepic, Elizabeth Lake, Pamela Gonzalez and Tatiana Iacoviello had buckets for the Patriots.

“Last year was last year, it was exciting, but this year is this year,” Debaggis said. “We miss Lianne a lot, but we’re focused on a big season, and we have a lot of work to do, as long as we all work hard, we will be a tough team to beat.”

“We kind of started off a little slow (down 8-0), a little messy, so we have to work on that, come out a little better to start games,” O’Hara said. “I love this tournament, I loved it when I was at Fenwick, I love it now that I’m with Revere. We just need to come out a little better in games and we’ll got from there.”

Danvers and Hamilton-Wenham played a thriller in their game. It looked like the Generals would have an easy ballgame, going up 16-3 early in the first. The Falcons hung around, fought back and trailed by a bucket after a steal and a swish by Tina Gigli with 11 seconds to play. Hamilton-Wenham was able to run out the clock and hold on for a 29-27 win.

 

Charles takes over girls hoops team at English

PHOTO BY BOB ROCHE
Coach MacKenzie Charles keeps an eye on his team during English’s first basketball practice on Monday afternoon. 

By HAROLD RIVERA

Mackenzie Charles is no stranger to the sport of basketball. He’s also no stranger to coaching.  

Charles will look to put his basketball and coaching experience to use as he begins his newest endeavor as the head coach of the Lynn English girls basketball team.

Charles, a Lynn native, was a former standout football and basketball player at Lynn Tech. He was named coach of the English program in August by athletic director Dick Newton.

“It’s good to be in a new position and a new building,” Charles said. “I’ve also been a Lynn guy so I have relationships at English, Classical, Tech and St. Mary’s. I have a good network and I appreciate that. Newton and principal (Thomas) Strangie welcomed me with open arms and they trust that I’m going to do a good job. I want to keep that trust.”

After being forced to move on from his basketball career due to an ACL and MCL injury he suffered on the gridiron, Charles threw his hat into the coaching ring. He now has 12 years of coaching experience in both basketball and football.

His current duties at English also include another coaching role as an assistant on the staff of the Bulldogs football team.

“It’s been fun,” Charles said of his experiences in coaching. “It keeps me busy and with my community. It keeps me as a positive member of the community by leading by example.”

Charles noted that he’s built a familiarity with the program over the years, allowing for a smoother transition into his new role. A pair of his current players on the English roster played for him at the AAU level.

“A couple of the girls, Dorothy (Ezemba) and Ely (Guity), played AAU and I coached them a little during my years coaching there,” Charles recalled. “I’m meeting a lot of the other girls for the first time but I think they’ll embrace having a new coach and building off of what (former coach) Rachael Bradley has done.”

Joining Charles on the new coaching staff are former English girls standout Jeanette Anderson, Tod Burton, Mackenson Charles, Keith Lee and Rod Valerie.

“What’s special about this staff is that they each have a full-time job working with kids,” Charles shared. “I wanted to put together a coaching staff that was kids-first and not basketball-first. We want to care about the student first before the basketball player.”

Charles added, “I really like our coaching staff. I think there’s a good balance between us and we all have good voices that come with positive attitudes.”

The Bulldogs tipped off their preseason with the team’s first practice of the 2016-2017 campaign Monday afternoon, and Charles noted that he’s already seeing positives from both his players and coaches.

“We all have the same mission,” Charles said of his coaches. “We want to help these kids get better every day. When the coaching staff is on the same page, it’s easy to send that message.”

He added, “We’re doing a lot of conditioning (to the start the preseason.) To play the style of basketball that I want us to play, we’re going to have to be in shape. Today we did a lot of conditioning and I think the girls responded well to that.”

The Bulldogs will rely on a handful of returning starters this upcoming season in Ezemba and Guity, as well as Tommi Hill and team captain Rachel Calnan. The team will look to play an up-tempo style of basketball, backed by an aggressive defense.

“I preach hard work and defense,” Charles said. “We want to be aggressive, we want to be fast, we want to play great defense and we want to be great teammates.”


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

English adds two new coaches

By Katie Morrison

LYNN — Lynn English added two new coaches to its athletic program Thursday, athletic director Dick Newton announced.

MacKenzie Charles will take over at the helm of the girls basketball program, while Stephanie McClelland will step in as cheerleading coach.

“We’re very happy to have them on board,” said Newton.

Charles replaces Rachael Bradley, who coached girls basketball at English for two years. A youthful Bulldogs team finished 5-15 under Bradley last season.

Charles was an assistant coach at Lynn Tech for 10 years under Marvin Avery, one of the school’s most successful coaches. He is also the director of the Antonio Anderson Skills Academy, alongside Antonio Anderson. Charles also spent time as an assistant football coach at Mount Ida College, and four years coaching the Massachusetts Thundercats girls AAU basketball team.

Newton said that Charles has a “great passion for basketball.”

“I’m happy he showed such a strong interest,” added Newton. “He’s a really good guy with a great personality, and I feel that the girls will gravitate to him.”

The Lynn Tech graduate is no stranger to the Bulldogs squad, coaching some of the players on the roster through the Thundercats and basketball camps. He says that he appreciates the work that Bradley put into the program.

“I want to continue that and take it to the next level,” he said. “One thing I can tell you is that we’re going to work hard and play defense. Those were values that were instilled in me as a player.”

Charles says he also wants to emphasize building a community within the school, noting it’s important to get staff, faculty and students involved.

“We’re going to be good student-athletes and represent the school in the most positive way,” he said.

Having spent so much time around successful coaches, Charles has learned from some of the best.

“I’ve learned so much, some core values to live by from coaches like Marvin Avery and (former English girls basketball coach) Fred Hogan,” said Charles. “I learned how hard you have to work to be successful.

“I’m blessed to have worked with a lot of great coaches, like (Tech football coach) James Runner, (St. Mary’s principal and former Tech hoops coach) Jim Ridley. I’ve gained a lot of experience and I’m blessed to be able to pass that along to these young ladies. It’ll be fun. I want to thank (English principal) Mr. (Thomas) Strangie and Mr. Newton for this opportunity, I’m very grateful.”

Charles also said that he owes a lot to Lynn’s Rob Smith, Mount Ida football coach Mike Landers, as well as his brother, MacKenson Charles, who he says has been a huge part of his success, and who will “have a big role” in developing the Bulldogs.

McClelland comes to English “highly recommended,” according to Newton, and with an impressive resume. McClelland is currently the vice president of the Lynn Chargers Youth Football and Cheerleading program, and coach of the senior level three North Shore Elite All-Stars out of Beverly. She also spent one season as the coach at her alma mater, Lynn Classical.

“She’s an extremely hard worker and a disciplinarian,” said Newton. “She’s on the advanced side of cheerleading.”

McClelland takes the reins from Christine Galvez, and says that she’s excited to join a program with a solid foundation.

“The program has been under the same direction for quite a while,” she said. “They’ve done well, and I want to strengthen the foundation, apply my knowledge, skill set and experience.”

One of McClelland’s main objectives is to grow the already-popular program, and possibly add a JV program as well.

“Some girls actually choose English over Classical because they’re excited about the cheer program,” said McClelland. “There’s a lot of interest and talent. It’s a rocket ship, and I want to help it take off.”

She says that the team has welcomed her, even though the squad was organized by the previous coach.

“They’re a little hesitant, but open and welcoming,” said McClelland. “I’m a stern coach, and I told them I’m happy for their accomplishments, but this is my style, so hop on the train or hop off.”

The former Ram will have to trade in her green and gold for maroon and grey, which will, of course, be an adjustment.

“I’ll be wearing maroon and grey on the outside, but I might have to keep a Classical shirt on underneath,” she joked. “But either way, I’m happy for both teams.”