PEABODY — Early struggles came back to haunt the Peabody boys basketball team in a 63-50 loss to Northeastern Conference opponent Beverly at Peabody Veterans Memorial Field House Friday night.
“Beverly came out hot,” Tanners coach Thad Broughton said. “They played really good in the first half and we just struggled offensively from the start. I give Beverly a lot of credit, they hit their shots and did a really nice job against us.
“In order to beat a good team like Beverly you have to play the full 32 minutes,” Broughton added. “We just didn’t do that tonight. We will learn from this and we will come back Tuesday against Gloucester and hopefully play better.”
Junior guards Kyle Morfis and Joangel Lugo each had 10 points to lead the Tanners. Tyler Joyce and Mike Tansey each added eight points while Will Preshong had a good all-around game with seven points and seven rebounds.
For Beverly, forward Jack Crowley led all scorers with 16 points. Toskany Abreu (14 points) and Micah Davies (10) also hit key shots for the Panthers.
After an offensive rebound kept Beverly’s first possession alive, Abreu hit an early 3-pointer to help the Panthers jump out to a 5-0 lead. Peabody responded with a run highlighted by threes from Joyce and Morfis to tie the game at 8-8 midway through the first.
From there Davies took over for the Panthers. The senior forward netted two baskets and a 3-pointer to push Beverly ahead. Davies finished the first quarter with a 3-pointer at the buzzer to extend Beverly’s lead to 20-11.
Ryan Barror opened up the second quarter with and-one to continue Beverly’s run. The Tanners were able to force a handful of turnovers in the second but couldn’t hit the key shots they needed to capitalize on the the opportunities they created.
Abreu hit a 3-pointer late in the second and converted an and-one in the final minutes to close out Beverly’s run and put the Panthers ahead 40-24 at the half.
“We gave up 40 points at the half,” Broughton said. “So we knew that we needed to play better defensively to make this a game. We just challenged the guys at the half and they did a much better job defensively. But we just couldn’t find enough offense to overcome it tonight.”
Lugo hit a pair of 3-pointers in the third quarter but that was all the offense the Tanners could put together. The Panthers got their lead up to as much as 19 before the fourth quarter.
The Tanners were able to put together one of their best runs of the night midway through the fourth quarter. Morfis and Preshong each had four points in the quarter to help cut the Beverly lead down to 11 in the final minutes. But the late run was too little too late for the Tanners with Beverly hitting key shots at the free throw line to close out the game.
The loss ends a two-game win streak for Peabody and drops the Tanners to 8-9 on the season.
“We were playing well these last few,” Broughton said. “Coming into this game we had won two in a row and were playing good basketball. But Beverly is a team where you can’t let down at any point during the game. We had a couple stretches where our offense was hard to find in this game. We picked it up in the second half but we were a little too far behind at that point. We just need to put 32 minutes together.”
The Tanners need two wins in their final three games of the regular season to qualify for the state tournament. They host Gloucester Tuesday night (7).