LYNN — A second-half comeback was the difference for the South leading to a 78-70 win over the North in the 15th Agganis All-Star basketball game at Paul F. Cavanagh Field House Monday.
St. Mary’s Jalen Echevarria earned MVP honors with 15 points. English’s Alonzo Linton 18 points, six rebounds) and Classical’s Dyrrell Rucker (14 points) also had big games. Echevarria, Linton and Rucker along with Chibuikem Onwuogo (St. Mary’s) and Robert Wallace (Lynn Tech) combined for 52 points while on the court together, including a 15-0 run to end the game, to lead the South team to the win.
“These kids have so much talent that you don’t really have to coach much,” South coach Antonio Anderson, of English, said. “They know the game so well in and out. Jalen and Alonzo, as seniors, they’re two of the best players in the state. So it was easy for them to go out there together and make some things happen (Monday).”
For the North, Casey McLaren (Newburyport) earned MVP honors with 14 points and five rebounds. Luis Huertas (Greater Lowell) scored 10 points while Marc Smith (Gloucester) added nine. Toskany Abreu (Beverly), Tyler Carrien (Methuen) and Spencer Pacy (Pentucket) each scored eight points.
“It was a special moment,” North coach Dave Clay (Newburyport) said. “I love Casey and I love Nicolas Levasseur (Newburyport). It’s good to have one more chance with them outside of the tournament and the season. It’s a perfect ending.
“All our players played well,” Clay said. “And having some of these guys on our side was nice. Billy Whelan (Hamilton-Wenham) lit (Newburyport) up for around 39 points last time I saw him. It was good having those guys, Abreu, Micah Davies (Beverly) they all played great.”
The game consisted of two 25-minute halves of running time. Linton started the game with a pair of early baskets and a steal but Abreu matched that with a basket and two free throws early on in the first half.
The North started to pull away thanks to a well-rounded offensive attack. Smith and Davies each hit a 3-pointer to get the offense started and five different scorers helped the North build a 22-14 lead.
The South chipped away at the lead from there and Echevarria converted an and-one and added another basket to cut the North lead to 34-32 later in the first half.
But the North held on to the small lead thanks to a late 3-pointer from Huertas and took a 41-37 lead into the break.
The South stepped up on the defensive end, allowing just six points in the first 10 minutes of the second half, to take a lead. Rucker hit a quick 3-pointer and Linton scored five straight points to help the South go ahead 49-45.
It looked like the South was starting to run away with things when Echevarria tossed a pair of alley-oops to Linton and Onwuogo to build a 57-47 lead midway through the second half.
The North didn’t show any quit however, with five points from Huertas and four from Pacy to help tie the game at 60-60 in the final few minutes.
Rucker responded with a 3-pointer but McLaren scored a pair of baskets and Smith hit a three of his own to give the North a 70-63 lead.
But it was all the South squad from there with Echevarria and Linton leading a 15-point run to finish the game. Echevarria added a pair of big 3-pointers in the final minutes and Linton and Onwuogu each converted an and-one to give the South a 75-70 lead. Rucker got in on the scoring in the final seconds, hitting a 3-pointer to seal the 78-70 win.
“It was definitely a great ending to the year,” Anderson said. “If you’re from Lynn you know all about the Agganis games and all of this stuff, so for me it’s a huge honor to coach in it. I thank (Agganis Games Director) Paul Halloran for asking me and it’s definitely a great honor.”