Redmen Get Sweet Revenge Over Tyngsboro, 67-53.
Feb 05, 2015 11:56PM
By Rick Spencer
Alex DiRocco (3) scored 19 points to lead Tewksbury to a 67-53 win over Tyngsboro.
History often repeats itself, but the Tewksbury High basketball team had too much at stake on Thursday night to let Tyngsboro High write a sequel to its 75-55 trouncing of the Redmen last February.
So a determined TMHS squad put together one of its best fourth-quarter efforts of the entire season and fought off an impressive challenge from a talented Tyngsboro High team, improving its record to 15-2 with a well-earned 67-53 non-league win over the visiting Tigers.
With the victory, the Redmen not only erased the memory of last year’s loss to Tyngsboro, but more importantly, they set a new school record for wins in a season, eclipsing last season’s 14-8 effort. On top of that, over in Lawrence, Billerica suffered a last-minute 55-53 loss to Central Catholic, which knocked the second-place Indians back to 5-5 in Merrimack Valley Conference play and guaranteed Tewksbury at least a share of its second consecutive MVC Division 2 championship.
The Redmen can lock up the small school title with a win in any of their final three MVC games, and could do it in style next Tuesday when they host Billerica on the newly-named Tony Romano Court.
But on Thursday, all Tewksbury eyes were set on paying back Tyngsboro for last year’s thumping.
“They pretty much just embarrassed us last year ,” said senior captain Alex DiRocco, who led Tewksbury with 19 points, including nine in the fourth quarter sparking Tewksbury to a game-breaking 13-2 run. “We lost to them by like 25 points in Tyngsboro and that was our lowest point of the season. So we needed to get revenge tonight.”
Revenge did not come easy, as the Tigers brought a 12-1 overall record(8-0 in the Midland Wachusett League) into the game and played like a team unaccustomed to losing.
“They’re a real scrappy team and they beat us badly last year,” said TMHS coach Phil Conners. “I knew it would be a tournament-type game with how they play. They’re really intense, right from the jump, and I thought that helped us.”
Tewksbury put together one of its most spirited efforts of the year in this game, running and gunning to a 15-14 first quarter edge and a 35-25 halftime lead. But Tyngsboro roared back with a 17-9 advantage in the third quarter and pulled to within two at 44-42 entering the final period.
The Tigers even took a brief lead, at 47-46, with 6:14 to play in the game. But that’s when DiRocco stepped up and took control of things. Over a span of less than three minutes, DiRocco led Tewksbury on a 13-2 run by burying two three-pointer field goals and adding a traditional three-point play after being fouled while scoring on a fast-break lay-up. Tewksbury led, 59-49, when Tyngsboro called time out with 3:39 left to play.
The Redmen held the Tigers to just four points over the final four minutes of the game, and pulled away to the 14-point victory.
“We played some great defense and we got Alex going in transition (in the fourth quarter),” Conners said. “Alex made some huge shots. He’s always been a kid who’s made big shots down the stretch. He’s made big shots for us all year. In every close game, he’s come through for us.”
Junior forward Adam Gajjaoui also played a critical role in that stretch run, scoring two fast break baskets and finishing the night with 12 points on a perfect 6-for-6 effort on two-point field goals. Gajjaoui added seven rebounds, while junior forward Justin Derrah scored 13 points. Senior forward Joe Csokmay scored 10 points on a perfect 4-for-4 shooting night and led Tewksbury with eight rebounds. Junior guard Nate Tenaglia scored nine points and led all players with eight assists, and senior guard Derek McGaffigan contributed four critical points gathering two offensive rebounds for put-back baskets.
“We just had to tighten up on defense and get out in transition, because that’s where we’re at our best,” said DiRocco of his team’s fourth-quarter effort. “When we get out running we’re getting easy baskets, open shots and easy lay-ups.”
The way Conners saw it, this was a quality win all the way around
“This (Tyngsboro) team lost in the Division 3 state final last year and they brought their whole team back,” Conners said. “So I think it speaks a lot to how much our guys have improved over last year. They’re a physically tough team and they play very hard, but the fourth quarter was great. I thought our fourth quarter was awesome.”
The Redmen get right back at it with another non-league contest against Malden High Friday night at 7:00 at the TMHS gym.