LYNN — The English boys basketball team’s Division 1 state championship victory was a huge accomplishment in the city of Lynn, and Tuesday evening Lynn Mayor Thomas McGee invited the Bulldogs to his office at City Hall to honor to historic event.
“We’re just so proud of the team and the hard work they put in this season,” McGee said. “Bringing home a Division 1 state title in basketball is a big deal, and so we wanted to do something for the team and let them know how proud we are of what they accomplished this year.”
The win, a 64-57 victory over Putnam at Holy Cross, brought the Bulldogs their first state basketball championship since 1939, ending an 80-year drought. For head coach Antonio Anderson, himself a former Lynn high school basketball star, the feat meant a lot.
“I was telling all of the guys when we came in here that 17 years ago I remember being in their position coming in here and receiving accolades, and so it means a lot to see them get to experience that,” Anderson said. “Honoring us like this just shows the appreciation the city has for the team and what we accomplished this year, and that’s a great feeling.”
McGee added to that sentiment, saying that the win — and the entire tournament run — really shows what this community is all about.
“You can feel the pride in everyone, in the coaches, the players, the alumni, the families,” said McGee. “We have so many great things going on in all of our schools, and a win like this just highlights those special things. To have a run like this all the way to a state title win, it really put a great spotlight on our city.”
The team — players, coaches and families — was invited to the mayor’s office for a catered meal before receiving individual certificates of recognition for the historic win. After that, the team was brought out onto the floor of the City Council and officially recognized and commended.
The Bulldogs were a powerhouse for much of the season. After rolling to an 18-2 record in the regular season, English earned the No. 1 seed in Division 1 North. But that didn’t guarantee an easy road to the sectional final, as the Bulldogs still had to win three games against opponents from the Merrimack Valley Conference — arguably one of the deepest conferences in the state. After a first-round bye, No. 8 Lawrence was the first opponent for the Bulldogs. English pulled away in the second half and won 82-63, moving on to face No. 12 Andover. The Bulldogs clamped down on defense and won 66-43, earning a date with No. 3 Central Catholic in the sectional final. After a back-and-forth battle, English prevailed 67-60 and moved on to the state semifinal against Newton North. The Bulldogs won that game by 14 points before beating Putnam to win the state championship.
But, the time to enjoy this win is getting shorter by the minute. As the players prepare the finish up the school year before moving on to offseason basketball, Anderson knows that it’s going to take a lot of work to stay on top.
“The guys have a quarter left in school, so they’ve got to push hard to the end and keep doing well there,” Anderson said. “After that, it’s summer league, fall league, and a lot of these guys play AAU ball as well so they’ll be working on their game. They know what it takes now and they’re hungry for more, so they’ll be working hard to be even better next season.”