Strong defensive effort lifts Lynnfield past Masconomet

Lynnfield, Ma. 12-21-18. Clayton Marengi had 22 points and 10 rebounds in the Pioneers' win Friday. (Owen O'Rourke)

LYNNFIELD — Behind a tenacious defensive effort, the Lynnfield boys basketball team rallied back from a first-quarter deficit to take down Masconomet, 59-37, at Lynnfield High Friday night. The Pioneers employed a full-court press for the majority of the game, forcing Masconomet into a number of costly turnovers. After giving up 15 points in the opening frame, Lynnfield went on to give up just 22 points the rest of the way.

“We recognized early on this year that scoring the basketball is not something we do consistently,” said Lynnfield coach Scott MacKenzie. “So we really hang our hat on our defense. I’m incredibly happy with the guys’ effort out there tonight. Between the second and third quarter we only gave up 13 points, and that was the real difference in the game.”

Junior Clayton Marengi led the way for Lynnfield, recording a double-double with 22 points and 10 rebounds. He also added three blocks. Sophomore Jack Ford added 15 points and seven rebounds, while junior Khad Connell contributed nine points and six rebounds. Junior Anthony Hunt added six points and five rebounds.

“This was a big game for Clayton,” said MacKenzie. “He’s such a freak athlete that we have to tell him to keep his game simple at times. But he was all over the place and made some big plays. And Jack was a stud out there tonight as well. He was a little wild early, but once he settled in he really started making plays for us on both ends.”

The first quarter was a bit of a struggle for the Pioneers, who had some trouble breaking through Masconomet’s 2-3 zone defense early on.

“They weren’t allowing dribble penetration into the zone, so our mantra was just to find our cutters,” said MacKenzie. “That started to soften things up, and all of a sudden after a couple of threes the zone started to stretch out.”

Lynnfield put on a small run to close the quarter, but still trailed 15-10 after one.

The second quarter was where the Pioneers started to find their footing. After battling back and forth with the Chieftains for much of the quarter, Lynnfield finally took its first lead of the game with 20 seconds left in the half when Ford nailed a deep jump shot. The Pioneers would not surrender the lead from that point.

The start of the third quarter is where Lynnfield started to really take control. The Pioneers went on a 11-2 run out of the gate to stretch out their lead and they never looked back.

The fourth quarter saw Lynnfield stretch the lead even further. Behind the combined play of Marengi, Ford and Connell, the Pioneers built their lead up to as many as 24 points before the reserves were brought in.

The task now for Lynnfield (1-2) is keeping this positive momentum moving forward, which it will try to do Sunday against Danvers.

“This is one of those years where all of our gameplans are very simple,” said MacKenzie. “This sounds like coach speak but we just want to focus on what we do well, and that’s putting a little pressure on the other team and seeing where it goes from there.”

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