SWAMPSCOTT— Tuesday night’s game at Swampscott was one the English boys basketball team won’t forget anytime soon.
Senior forward Alonzo Linton scored his 1000th career point and the Bulldogs stormed by the Big Blue with a 89-49 win at Richard Lynch Gymnasium. With the win, English clinched a berth in the Division 1 North state tournament.
“I wasn’t nervous,” Linton said. “I was excited but I just wanted to play the game how I usually play and not think about it too much. That’s how I went about it.”
Linton entered the night needing 10 points to reach the career mark. He wasted no time, reaching it on a free throw in the first quarter.
“It feels good,” Linton said. “Growing up, I always wanted to hit 1,000 in my high school basketball career. It was a really special moment for me.”
A transfer from Nashua North (NH), Linton joined the Bulldogs last season as a junior. He helped English to a 17-5 record and an appearance in the Division 1 North quarterfinal. A repeat trip to states has been on his mind since the season started.
“It feels good,” Linton said. “We’re really focused on trying to win it this year. That’s our biggest goal right now.
“We have to keep working in practice and keep pushing each other to get better. We have to keep playing the way we’re playing.”
Linton becomes the eighth player in program history to score 1000 points. The most recent to do so was Erick Rosario in 2015.
“I’m extremely proud of Alonzo,” English coach Antonio Anderson said. “That’s my guy. He works extremely hard. I’m on him a lot. It’s tough on him but he embraces it. Last year it took him a while to get used to me yelling but he knew it was for the better. I expect a lot from him and he handles that better this year. To see him him accomplish this, with me being his coach, it’s a great feeling for me and the coaching staff.
“We know how hard he works. He does well in school too, he doesn’t get in any trouble. A kid like that deserves it.”
Linton finished with 17 points and nine rebounds.
“Linton played a classic game,” Swampscott coach Justin Fucile said. “He didn’t try to go for it too hard. He just let it come to him. He doesn’t argue anything with the coaches or refs. He’s a good person. I congratulate him.”
Jarnel Guzman led all scorers with 25 and Mason Jean-Baptiste added 15. English netted 16 threes.
Jackson Byrne paced Swampscott with 16. Andrew Augustin (15) and Fred Juden (12) also scored in double-figures.
Things got out of Swampscott’s grasp early. The Bulldogs scored the first 10 points of the night on a pair of threes and a pair of baskets. Byrne netted a 3-pointer to put Swampscott on the board. Midway through the quarter, Linton drove to the basket, drew a foul as he made a bucket and swished his freebie for his 1000th point.
English ended the first quarter with a commanding 30-7 lead.
“Most of English’s team can shoot the basketball,” Fucile said. “When they put the ball on the floor it’s tough to guard the shooters and the penetration at the same time. They’re an exciting basketball team. They’re going to do very well in the state tournament. It was good to play a team like English so we can see the level they play at and where we’re at.”
It didn’t get any better for Swampscott in the second quarter. English kept its foot on the gas on both ends, holding Swampscott to just five points. At halftime, English led 50-12.
The Bulldogs coasted through the second half for the 89-49 win.
Although English sealed its postseason bid, the work doesn’t stop here. The Bulldogs would prefer to put off traveling in the postseason for as many rounds as they can. English (11-1) hosts Saugus Thursday (7).
“Now it’s the seeding part,” Anderson. “In Division 1 North, every game’s a brawl. You have to be able to duck one or two. That’s all on how you’re seeded and how you finish the season. If we take care of business like we’re capable of, we’ll be alright.”
Swampscott (4-7) looks to end a five-game skid Friday (7) at Revere.
“Revere’s playing pretty well this year,” Fucile said. “It should be a good game. We’re at a similar level. Last year that was our only NEC win. They know that too and I think they’re going to come ready to protect their gym. I look forward to it.”