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CAMBRIDGE — The No. 5 Peabody boys basketball team has had a recurring theme this season, and that’s been an inability at times to string four consistent quarters together.
Unfortunately, that script played true to form in the Tanners’ final game of the season Monday night, a 54-36 loss to host and No. 5 seed Cambridge Rindge & Latin in the first round of the Division 1 North tournament.
Peabody gave as good an effort as it got in the first half, playing its best defense of the year against a high-flying Falcons team that was averaging about 65 points a game and went into the locker room tied at 22-22.
The second half was a different story, however, as Peabody went stone cold from the field.
“If you had told me we would hold them to 22 points at the half and give up 54 total, I would have said we’d take it as that’s not bad against a very strong team,” said Peabody coach Thad Broughton. “To be tied at the half, I was very happy with that. Our story this year has been we have struggled at times offensively and that came to fruition in the second half. We got great looks and ran what we wanted to run, we just couldn’t get our shots to fall.”
Joangel Lugo led the Tanners with 15 points, while Tyler Joyce scored 10 points.
Peter Loutzenhiser led the Falcons with 19 points, while big man Khai Smith scored 10 points and hauled down 23 rebounds.
Peabody got off to a dream start and led 8-2 in the first on a bucket and old-fashioned three-point play from Chioke Onwuogu (six points, four rebounds) sandwiched around a Lugo three-pointer. The Falcons countered with a 9-0 run to lead 11-8 after one.
Lugo opened the second with a trey to tie the game at 11-11. The action was back-and-forth the rest of the half.
Joyce opened the third with a three-pointer to give the Tanners a 25-22 lead with 6:30 to go, but that was as good as it got for Peabody.
Cambridge went on a 13-1 run to lead 35-26 with 20 seconds left in the quarter. Alex Jean (two points, eight rebounds) stopped the bleeding with a buzzer-beater to make it a 35-28 game with eight minutes to go.
“I mean, I thought we got it down to single digits opening the fourth, so I was very happy with our play,” said Broughton. “We just couldn’t make our shots.”
The fourth was all Falcons, who sealed the win with a 19-8 final frame.
The Tanners knew coming into the game that they faced a tall order in finding a way to stop Smith, who brings new meaning to the phrase double-double as he has topped the 1,000 mark in both points and rebounds.
“He’s a 1,000 point scorer and also has 1,000 rebounds and is 6’8″,” said Broughton. “We knew we needed to have a total team effort on defense with our forwards and guards contesting every shot and rebound and we needed everyone to contribute offensively to win the game.”
The loss marked the end of the careers for six Tanner seniors in captains Lugo and Kyle Morfis (three points) — both guards — along with guards Joyce and Krisli Miraka and forwards Jean and Onwuogu, a group that Broughton said were key ingredients in helping the Tanners get back to the tournament after a one-year absence.
“The seniors have led us all season,” said Broughton. “Their contributions to our team have led us to a successful season and each senior will be sorely missed.”
Cambridge moves on to the quarterfinal round where the Falcons travel to No. 4 Everett Friday night (7).