Bulldogs down Fishermen, clinch tournament spot

English's Louis Rivera Jr. attempts a shot during Thursday night's win. (Item Photo by Katie Morrison)

LYNN— So far, so good for Antonio Anderson in his first season as coach of the English boys basketball team. Thursday night at Paul Cavanagh Field House, the Bulldogs defeated Gloucester, 76-50, to earn their 10th win of the season and clinch a state tournament bid.

“It’s a good feeling to get it out of the way,” Anderson said of reaching states. “We’ve got it going a little bit. We’re 10-1 and it feels good to get that off our backs. That’s one goal out of the way. Now we just have to keep moving forward.”

Javaris Hill led the Bulldogs (10-1) with 15 points and Alonzo Linton added 13. Mason Jean-Baptiste and Jordan Todd provided solid performances off the bench, each tallying 12 points. Todd was red-hot from beyond the arc, scoring all his points on four 3-pointers.

“We’ve been deep all year,” Anderson said. “Guys have been banged up a little bit. I told my coaches ‘I want everyone playing.’ We want to have 10 guys playing because that makes it hard on other teams. They look at us and they have to worry about so many guys. Jordan, Mason, Myles (Mandalaysay) and Louis (Rivera Jr.), they can all knock down shots. We’ll need that depth come tournament time.”

The Bulldogs sprinted out to a 9-2 lead before Gloucester’s Ben Oliver swished a 3-pointer to trim the English advantage. That was all the offense the Fishermen could generate in the first quarter. English ended the period on a 5-0 run, capped by a jump shot from Linton, to claim a 14-5 lead at the end of the first quarter.

After a Bulldogs basket to start the second quarter, the Fishermen reeled themselves back into the game. Oliver knocked home back to back 3-pointers to pull the Fishermen within five points, down 16-11. Two minutes later, the lead was whittled down to two thanks to a trio of Fishermen free throws. Matheus Montenairo, who tallied seven points off the bench, banked in a 3-pointer to end the English drought. The Bulldogs found their rhythm from there and Montenairo’s lay-in at the buzzer gave them a 35-24 lead at recess.

“(At halftime) I told my guys that we needed to defend better,” Anderson said. “We gave up five points in the first quarter and then 19 in the second quarter. It’s hard to win that way. We clamped down in the second half. Our guys bought in on defense and they started defending.”

Gloucester stayed within reach until English opened a 15-point edge midway through the third quarter. Mandalaysay netted a three from the top of the key and Hill added a lay-in to bump the lead to 20 at 57-37. The Bulldogs outscored Gloucester 23-16 in period No. 3 and led 58-40 heading into the fourth.

English sealed the win in the fourth quarter. Rivera Jr. (six points) hit a 3-pointer from the wing to put the Bulldogs ahead 71-42 with 3:50 to play. That allowed Anderson to empty his bench and get the younger Bulldogs players minutes as they iced the 76-50 win.

With the tournament bid secured, the Bulldogs will now focus on earning a home game. Anderson noted that his Bulldogs have played well at home this season and he’d like to see that continue in the state tournament.

“The home games stretch helped us,” Anderson said. “We’ve had about four or five home games in a row. Friday we go to Saugus and then we have another home game next week against Revere. I’ve told our guys that protecting our home court is big and we’ve been taking care of home court all season.”

English visits Saugus tonight (7).

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