LYNN — Whenever the Marblehead boys basketball team comes to English, Magicians coach Mike Giardi’s players know they have to bring their A-game. More often than not, that’s the only way for a visiting team to come away from English’s Paul Cavanagh Field House with a win.
Instead it was English that brought its A-game on Tuesday night, along with a stout press defense that gave the Magicians headaches in a 61-52 win for the Bulldogs.
“We brought the intensity,” Giardi said. “We played with a lot of heart and a lot of hustle but heart and hustle doesn’t get you every win. You have to put the ball in the basket. We missed 20 layups and we were 8-for-23 from the (free throw) line. When you lose by nine points and put yourself in a position to cut into that lead, you have to make those shots.”
English was led by 19 points from Alonzo Linton, 12 from Ademide Badmus and 10 from Javaris Hill. Calvin Seng knocked in three 3-pointers to finish with nine points.
“It feels good to get the win,” English coach Antonio Anderson said. “We were on the road for our first couple of games. The next couple are at home so we have to protect our home floor. That’s the key.”
The Magicians were paced by 18 points from Derek Marino, 14 from Seamus Keaney and 10 from Sean McCarthy.
The opening quarter provided an early indication for an intense game. English stormed out to a 7-1 lead by applying a press defense and turning Marblehead turnovers into easy buckets. The Magicians settled in, and a pair of lay-ins by Keaney tied the game at 9-9. That’s where it stayed at the end of the first quarter.
“We’re trying to work on our press defense,” Anderson said. “We’re young. It’s still new for us. Marblehead made runs, but we took care of the lead. We have to play better. We got the win and I’m happy with it, but we have to learn our system.”
English knocked down its shots in the second quarter, putting the Magicians in double-digit deficit. The 3-ball proved effective, as Seng swished two and Louis Rivera Jr. netted one to propel English to a big surge late in the quarter. Keaney capped the quarter with a breakaway lay-in at the buzzer but English held a 31-20 lead at halftime.
“Louis and Calvin, those guys can really shoot it,” Anderson said. “Earlier they were struggling with their shots but they’ve been getting it going these last couple games. It opens things up for us.”
Turnovers kept the Magicians from pulling closer in the first half.
“We broke the press several times and we talked about how we were going to break it,” Giardi said. “We made a rotation and some substitutes. We made some bad decisions and we have to stay on top of things. The NEC’s tough.”
A trio of Marblehead buckets to open the third quarter saw the Magicians slim the gap to 31-26. English fired back with an 11-0 run, including a bucket off the glass by Linton and a 3-pointer from Myles Manalaysay, to stretch the lead to 41-26. Marino ended Marblehead’s drought with a hook shot but the Bulldogs remained well ahead, 47-32, through three quarters.
The Magicians didn’t go away quietly in the fourth quarter. Lay-ins from Chris Gally and Keaney brought Marblehead within eight points, down 55-47 with 1:26 to play. Anderson took a timeout, and his Bulldogs regrouped. Javonte Edwards’ bucket brought the lead back to 10 and English sealed the 61-52 win.
“We’re at the point where we don’t want to tell the kids ‘great job, great effort,'” Giardi said. “It has to be ‘we need a win’ and that’s the next step for us. We have to get wins.”
English (5-1) is back on the court on Friday night when the Bulldogs host Beverly. The Magicians (3-4) will aim for a win on Friday night at Revere.