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Tenaglia Pours In 34, Redmen Top Chelmsford 87-71 In Season Opener

Dec 16, 2015 12:00AM ● By Rick Spencer

Nate Tenaglia (4) scored a career high 34 points to lead Tewksbury over Chelmsford, 87-71

There’s no truth to the rumor about Tewksbury High senior guard Nate Tenaglia being so quick that when he shuts out his bedroom lights at night, he’s under the covers and fast asleep before the room even gets dark.

But after Tuesday night’s “lights out” 34-point season-opening performance, you could probably convince the Chelmsford High Lions that the rumor is true.

Tenaglia was simply unstoppable as he led coach Phil Conners’ TMHS Redmen to an 87-71 victory over an athletic but over-matched Chelmsford squad on Tuesday. The 34-point effort marked a career high for Tenaglia, who last week was named to ESPN Boston’s pre-season all-state team and looked every bit the part of it against the Lions.

Tenaglia connected on eight-of-18 three-point attempts, and gave the CHS defenders fits in the transition game. But the highlight reel moment of the night came when Tenaglia single-handedly put the game out of reach in a remarkable 28-second span at the start of the third quarter.  Tenaglia swished two long-distance three-pointers and added three straight free throws (he was fouled shooting a three), scoring nine straight points before the Lions even realized the second half had begun. In less than 30 seconds Tenaglia stretched a 44-27 TMHS halftime lead to 53-27, effectively giving Tewksbury the win with half a game still to play.

“In the first half, we played the score. We got ahead and we started playing like we knew we were going to win,” Conners said afterward. “But in the second half, we came out and put it away. I told them (at halftime) I wanted a 10-0 run to start the second half, but I never imagined we’d get nine straight points in less than 30 seconds from one kid.”

Tenaglia added another three-point bomb a minute later as the Redmen threw in 16 points in the first 1:47 of the third quarter. That 16-2 run pushed the Tewksbury lead to 31 at 60-29, and even though Chelmsford fought hard to the finish, the deficit was insurmountable.

“We started out slow in the first half, but then we started picking it up,” Tenaglia said. “We started pressuring them, started turning them over, and we made some shots and got out in transition. It was good.”

In addition to his 34 points, Tenaglia had five assists and four steals in spite of sitting out most of the fourth quarter, as garbage time started early on Tuesday. But even for Tenaglia, the third-quarter outburst was something he never expected to experience.

“I’ve never done anything like that before, nothing close,” he said with a smile. “My teammates feed me the ball a lot so I just keep shooting. I just keep thinking it’s gonna go in, every time.”

And for Conners’ part, he has no reservations about watching his all-star point guard light it up.

“His range is incredible,” Conners said. “People think he’s taking bad shots, but he’s not. That’s his range.

“He’s earned that, though,” Conners added. “He works harder than anyone. He never leaves the gym.”

Tenaglia got lots of help on Tuesday from fellow seniors Justin Derrah and Adam Gajjaoui, as well. Derrah scored 22 points and had four rebounds, while Gajjaoui added 13 points and played a strong defensive game. Tewksbury’s “Big 3” accounted for 69 of the team’s 87 points.

“We’ve got three unbelievable players,” Conners said. “Nate’s as good as anybody in the state, Justin’s not far behind and Adam is really athletic. We’re really good, one-through-three.”

First-time starters Ryan Briggs and Giovanni Ciampa also had impressive debuts. Ciampa scored seven points while Briggs had six points and five rebounds.

“Ryan is a helluva defender,” Conners said. “I was really happy with him and Gio did a good job too. They played well for their first time out and I thought (senior forward Sean) Moose looked good too.”

Overall, Conners was satisfied with his team’s first outing.

“We showed flashes of how good we can be,” he said. “We didn’t put together 32 minutes by any means, but we showed flashes.”

The Redmen will have to be more consistent in their home opener Friday night, when they host Merrimack Valley Conference powerhouse Lawrence High. The Lancers opened some eyes Tuesday night when they knocked off Central Catholic, 63-51.

Game Time is 7:00 p.m. at Tewksbury High’s Romano Gymnasium.

 

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