Peabody’s Junior Estrella fought foul trouble to score 16 points for the Tanners.
By JOYCE EREKSON
PEABODY – The Peabody High boys basketball team made it look easy Friday in a 70-44 win over Swampscott at Peabody.
The Tanners (4-2) came at the Big Blue (0-7) from all directions. They spread the scoring around, with four players hitting double figures, and they kept the heat on defensively from start to finish. Junior Estrella was slowed down a bit by foul trouble, but he still led the Peabody effort with 16 points. Senior guard Matt D’Amato and junior guard Jake Irvine each contributed 11 points and sophomore guard Chris Canela was good for 13.
“I think we started off slow but then we were able to get a couple of steals and get a little momentum going,” Peabody coach Thad Broughton said. “I thought we played better in the second half than in the first half. I thought we picked up our intensity in the second half.”
The game was tied midway through the first quarter, but the Tanners went on a 10-0 run to end the quarter. Estrella was tough to stop in the early going, scoring eight of his points in the first eight minutes. Jake Irvine took some air out of the Big Blue sails when he buried a three with 16-seconds left to beef up the Tanner lead to 18-8.
The Big Blue showed some signs of life in the second quarter, outscoring Peabody 16-14, but the damage had been done. Senior point guard Dylan Hayes gave Swampscott some juice off the bench, scoring all of his team-high 13 points in the second quarter. He hit three, threes and a couple of layups to keep the Big Blue in the hunt. He had some help from sophomore Jackson Byrne, who finished with 12 points.
“Dylan Hayes played unbelievable for us tonight,” Swampscott coach Dave Born said. “We played some of our best basketball in the first half. We talked about D’Amato and Estrella. They’re two good players. I thought we did a decent job on both of them. We got Estrella in foul trouble. Our guys played hard.”
Swampscott trailed 32-24 at the half, continued to hang around for a while in the third quarter. At one point (with 2:33 remaining) the Big Blue had cut the deficit to four at 38-34. That didn’t last long, however. Estrella hitter a jumper and then turned around and buried a three to give the Tanners some breathing room at 43-24 with 1:53 left in the third quarter. At the end of three, Peabody led 45-36.
The fourth quarter was all Peabody. Irvine opened the show with a picture-perfect drive to the hoop. He was fouled and made the shot for a three-point play. The Tanners went on an 11-2 run to start the final quarter with a three by Chris Canela bumping the Peabody lead up to a robust 59-40 with less than five minutes to play. D’Amato delivered the back-breaker – a three that put the Tanners up by 23 with 3:45 remaining in the game.