English’s offense too much for Classical

English's Alonzo Linton (right) tries to get by the defense of Classical's Dyrrell Rucker. (Item Photo by Owen O'Rourke)

LYNN — The English boys basketball team’s explosive offense helped lift the Bulldogs over crosstown rival Classical in an 89-71 win at Paul Cavanagh Field House Wednesday night.

“We came out, got everything going and guys played hard,” English coach Antonio Anderson said “At the end of the day you can’t really dictate what’s going to happen but what I do know is our guys came today and played hard. We made shots and we played defense. That was key for us tonight.”

Alonzo Linton who led all scorers with 25 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Jarnel Guzman and Jack Rodriguez each scored 20 points.

“Alonzo’s a key piece to our team,” Anderson said. “He’s starting to get the rebounding part and that’s the good part. When he plays like he does tonight, it’s hard to stop us. He’s a physical guy and in transition he’s scary. For him to play the way he did in a game like this was huge.

“We just play,” Anderson added. “The way we play is the way we practice. We get a lot of shots up and I give them freedom. They love it, I try to be a players’ coach as much as I can and the players racked it up.”

Despite the loss Jaylen Johnson (22 points, four rebounds) and Dyrrell Rucker (13 points five rebounds) played well for the Rams.

“They just outplayed us,” Classical coach Jasper Grassa said. “We didn’t shoot well and we definitely didn’t rebound well tonight. I thought we protected the ball pretty well but if you’re not hitting shots and you’re giving them three or four chances every time it’s not going to work out.”

The Bulldogs got off to a fast start on both sides of the ball. Linton converted an early and-one. Justin Fitzpatrick and Mason Jean-Baptiste each hit a 3-pointer to put English ahead 12-2 less than four minutes in.

After a timeout, Classical rallied to get the score within three thanks to an and-one by Malik Anderson. The comeback didn’t last long, however, with English pulling away again to take a 22-16 lead into the second quarter.

The Rams were able to cut down the lead thanks to a 3-pointer by Jeff Hill to make the score 24-21, but the Bulldog offense continued to respond.

“I just told the guys to calm down,” Anderson said. “They’re a good team. They’re going to make plays and make shots but we have to respond. Basketball’s a game of runs and the guys calmed down and got going.”

The Bulldogs were led by Linton and Rodriguez, who each put up eight points in the second quarter to help the English carry a 45-31 lead into the half.

“You have to credit English for handling the press at that point,” Grassa said. “They adjusted and then it just became the half-court game again. Jarnel was hitting shots and Alonzo had a really good game. I think the main thing that killed our momentum was the defensive rebounding. When you’re down like that you can’t do that. It’s a momentum killer. But even if we did rebound it better we just didn’t shoot well enough tonight.”

English continued to expand its lead right from the start of the second half. Guzman took over for the Bulldogs, scoring nine points in the third quarter to help English get out to a 59-39 lead.

The fourth quarter was much of the same, with the Bulldogs expanding their lead to a high of 82-59. With two minutes remaining and the game well in hand for the Bulldogs, the bench finished off the win.

“That’s how we like to play,” Anderson said. “We like to fly. We don’t like slowing down unless we have to. We are in really good shape and it shows. We can do it for four quarters so we try to see if teams can keep up with us. Most teams can’t.”

Both teams will be back on the court Friday night (7) when English (9-1) travels to Peabody and Classical (6-3) hosts Revere.

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