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Johnson leads Classical over Winthrop

FILE PHOTO
Classical’s Jaylen Johnson erupted for a 30-point performance in Friday’s win. 

By GORDON VINCENT

LYNN — Heads up to the Lynn Classical boys basketball team’s upcoming opponents – you’re going to have to account for Jaylen Johnson.

Johnson, a sophomore, scored 30 points as the Classical boys basketball team routed Winthrop, 80-52, Friday night at Classical High.

“Jaylen had an outstanding game,” said Rams coach Tom Grassa. “He continues to play very well for us.”

Deonte Plouffe added 15 points for Classical (7-2; 5-0 Northeastern Conference), while Erick Solis had 14. For Winthrop (3-5; 2-3), Devin Pulsifer led the way with 17 points, while Tayjuan McKenzie contributed 13.

“Those two — Devin and McKenzie — combined for 55 points against Saugus (on Tuesday), so we really had to focus on containing them,” Grassa said. “Our defense was terrible in the first half, but I thought we were outstanding on the defensive end in the second half.”

Indeed, the Rams limited the Vikings to just 18 points in the second half and took command with a 17-0 run in the third quarter, holding Winthrop without a field goal for more than five minutes.

“Their press is obviously something you can’t prepare for in practice,” said Winthrop coach Ignacio Oyola. “Not only do they wear you down physically, I think they wear you down mentally as well.”

A foul-line jumper by Pulsifer carved the Rams’ lead to one with 6:07 left in the third quarter, but Johnson drained a 3-pointer from the right elbow to key a long spurt that Plouffe bookended with a 3-pointer from the left wing to give Classical a 57-39 advantage with 57 seconds left in the period.

Erick Solis scored eight points in the first two minutes of the fourth quarter, as the Rams continued to pull away. A steal and layup by Johnson put Classical ahead, 75-47, and the substitutes from both teams played the remaining four minutes of the game.

In the first quarter, Winthrop led by as many as four points before Classical went on a 16-0 run, with Johnson and Erick Solis combining for 11 straight points. A fast break layup by Johnson gave the Rams a 25-18 lead at the end of the opening period.

Another steal and layup by Johnson gave the Rams a 34-23 lead with 2:34 left to go in the first half, but Pulsifer keyed an 11-0 run for the Vikings. Pulsifer nailed a 3-pointer to tie the game with 49 seconds left in the second period, but Edwin Solis dished a couple of assists to Johnson, who made two more layups to close out the first half.

“We had a lot of suggestions at halftime about what to do, and we did make some adjustments, but the main thing was the kids just dug in on defense in the second half,” Grassa said. “Winthrop can be a very explosive team.”
The Rams play Saugus at home on Tuesday, while the Vikings host Danvers on Tuesday.

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