Red Hot Redmen Clinch MVC Division 2 Title With 79-51 Win Over Dracut
Feb 13, 2015 10:56PM
By Rick Spencer
Nate Tenaglia (4) led Tewksbury with 19 points as the Redmen clinched the MVC Div. 2 Championship.
There are nights when the hot-and-cold shooting Tewksbury High basketball team can’t seem to find the range no matter how hard they try.
And there are also nights when the Redmen shoot like champions.
Friday night was a champions night, as TMHS picked the perfect time to re-discover its outside shooting touch scoring 48 points from beyond the three-point line en route to a 79-51 scorching of Dracut High.
The result was Tewksbury’s 10th win against four losses in Merrimack Valley Conference play, good enough to clinch the MVC Division 2 Championship for the second straight year for the Redmen.
Junior guard Nate Tenaglia led all scorers with 19 points, including five three-pointers. Tenaglia drained five of the eight shots he took from beyond the arc, and added 10 assists for a rare high school double-double.
Senior guard Alex DiRocco also buried five three-pointers, finishing with 15 points, as DiRocco and Tenaglia took turns breaking Dracut’s spirit with an outside aerial assault that was nearly unstoppable on this night.
“It was the ball movement. The way we moved the ball tonight set up those (three-point) shots,” said TMHS head coach Phil Conners afterward. “When we move the ball the way we did tonight, we can be a very good team.”
Tewksbury was that very good team from its very first possession Friday night, as Tenaglia swished a three-pointer just 15 seconds into the first period, giving the Redmen a lead they would never relinquish. DiRocco followed with a three-pointer from the corner 30 seconds later, then Tenaglia connected again followed by a Joe Csokmay bomb, and it was 12-2 before the Dracut fans could even shake the snow off their winter boots.
Tewksbury hit five-of-eight three-point attempts on its way to a 22-9 lead at the end of one quarter, and the Redmen hardly let up in the second period. Some solid defense and strong rebounding helped push the TMHS lead to 40-23 at the half.
Tewksbury picked up right where it had left off in the early stages of the second half, as the Redmen connected on eight more three-pointers and left the Middies in their dust, pulling away to a 69-35 lead after three periods.
Both teams emptied their benches to start the fourth period, but senior guard Henry Roberts added two more three-pointers in the final quarter and Tewksbury finished 16-for-40 from beyond the arc, including an impressive eight-for-10 in the third quarter.
Just as important, the Redmen recorded 25 assists as a team against Dracut.
“We passed the ball really well tonight,” Conners said. “You could see the ball snapping around. We took 40 three-point shots and that’s OK, I want to take 40 if we can. Tonight our passing was really crisp, and that’s what we have to have.”
Junior forward Justin Derrah finished with 14 points and eight rebounds, while junior forward Adam Gajjaoui had nine points, five rebounds and four assists. Csokmay finished with 10 points, eight rebounds and five assists and Roberts added eight points.
With the win, the Redmen improve to 17-4 overall, and finish 10-4 in the MVC, one game ahead of Billerica (which finished at 9-5 after beating Chelmsford Friday night) in the MVC Division 2 standings. So a championship banner will be raised above Tony Romano court for the second straight year.
“It feels good,” Conners said. “It’s more of a relief because we almost backed into it (by losing three of their last four MVC games). But if you told me at the beginning of the season that we’d win (the Division 2 title) and have a shot at finishing 18-4, I’d have taken it.”
Tewksbury, which had qualified for state tournament play back in January, wraps up its regular season schedule with a non-league game at Wilmington on Tuesday. The seeding meetings for the 2015 MIAA state tournament will be held next weekend.
At present, the Redmen unofficially rank third in the MIAA Division 2 North Sectional seedings, behind Danvers and Arlington, who were both undefeated heading into Friday night’s action.
In all likelihood, the Redmen will finish as the third seed and most likely earn a first round bye. They are unlikely to begin state tournament play much before Feb. 24th.