Christian Encarnacion had 11 points and 10 rebounds in a loss to Greater Lowell Wednesday. (Item Photo: Vanessa Leroy)

KIPP boys basketball comes up short to Greater Lowell

LYNN — For all intents and purposes, the KIPP Academy boys basketball game is starting from scratch. 

Wednesday's 67-47 loss to Greater Lowell at the High Rock Street facility was only the Panthers' fifth game of the season. It was played without fans and an almost-sterile environment and coach Brian Tobin could feel the difference. 

"We beat Lynn Tech Monday at their place, and the stands were full, the music was playing, and the kids had a lot of energy," Tobin said. "But when it's like it was tonight, you have to bring your own energy. And I don't think we did."

The Gryphons, said Tobin, are one of the best teams in the Commonwealth Conference. Wednesday, they were led by seniors David Diaz (20 points) and Nesley Sainvil (13). They got the jump on the Panthers after a slow start, but by the end of the first quarter seemed to be in control with a 14-4 lead.

"We are hitting the reset button," said Tobin, in his first year with the Panthers. "We didn't have a season last year because of COVID, and we had issues the year before that. 

"So for a lot of these kids, it's been two years since they've picked up basketball at school," Tobin said. 

The Panthers seemed to be on the road to a comeback in the second half as Christian Encarnacion (11 points) found the range for all of his points as KIPP ripped off an 13-4 run to climb to within three points (23-20). 

However, the rally was short-lived as the Gryphons closed the quarter with a 5-2 spurt to go up 28-22 at the break.

It was anybody's game going into the third quarter, but the Gryphons put an end to any suspense by scoring 24 points and going up 52-34.

It was more of the same in the fourth quarter, as the Gryphons opened with a 12-4 run to put further distance between themselves and the Panthers. 

Tobin said that not only has his team played only five games, but practice time has been limited as well due to COVID issues. 

"It's going to take some time for everything to come together," said Tobin. "We have a lot of players from the football teams playing for us, and there are things that they still have to learn, things like spacing. 

"We'll get there," he said. 

KIPP (2-3) is at Chelesa Friday. 

"Sometimes, after a game like this, going right out and playing again is a good thing," Tobin said. "You don't have a lot of time to dwell on it."

Greater Lowell raised its record to 8-2.

Osaru Evbenaye and Jaythean Im had eight points apiece for KIPP. Noah Colon chipped in with 12 for the Gryphons. 

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