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Derrah, Tenaglia Lead Tewksbury Over Malden, 81-61

Dec 23, 2015 11:12PM ● By Rick Spencer

The Malden defesne couldn't keep up with Nate Tenaglia (4) as he scored a career-high 35 points on Wednesday.

They are Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside for the Tewksbury High boys’ basketball team, but senior captains Justin Derrah and Nate Tenaglia pulled a fast one on the Malden High defense in leading the Redmen to a runaway 81-61 victory on Wednesday night at Tony Romano Court.

Derrah, a 6-2, 205-pound power forward, usually spends his nights pounding the boards for rebounds and powering his way to the basket. Tenaglia, on the other hand, is a 5-10, 165-pound guard who is known as a deadly three-point shooter with practically unlimited range.

But on this night, Derrah and Tenaglia staged their own version of the 1980s movie classic “Trading Places” by acting out a role reversal that left the Malden defenders scratching their heads while Tenaglia scored a career high 35 points and Derrah tossed in a season-high 24. Uncharacteristically, Tenaglia posted his highest career point total while connecting only twice from three-point range and scoring 10 baskets on lay-ups, while Derrah hit four-of-five from beyond the three-point arc.

According to TMHS head coach Phil Conners, whose Redmen now stand 4-0 on the season, it was simply a matter of two veteran players recognizing the opportunities that the Malden defense presented to them.

“I think they scouted us and saw (Tenaglia)  hitting nine threes, six threes, whatever. So they played way up on him and he was into the lane all night,” Conners said. “He was getting around guys and going to the rim.

“And offensively, Justin’s a stud. He’s a great shooter. He hasn’t shot it great this year so far, but tonight everything he threw up went in. He doesn’t get enough credit because of what Nate does, but he’s as good a shooter as anyone.  I don’t think he took 15 shots tonight and he scored 24 points. That’s  a pretty efficient 24 points.”

Actually, Derrah shot the ball exactly 15 times, hitting six-of-10 from two point range and four-of-five from beyond the arc, adding up to an impressive 71 percent shooting night, including 80 percent efficiency on his three-pointers.

Tenaglia was 8-for-13 on two-pointers and three-for-eight from behind the stripe.

“They weren’t loading up against me tonight so I was just looking to drive and get in the lane,” Tenaglia explained.  “They weren’t helping so when they weren’t helping I was just finishing. But I didn’t really play that well tonight. Justin was the best player on the court tonight.”

Tenaglia’s 35-point effort raises his season’s average to 28.25 points per game, and gives the senior guard 906 career points with 17 regular season games still left on the schedule. At his current pace, Tenaglia will become the sixth 1000-point scorer in Tewksbury High history sometime in early January.

Derrah is averaging 18 points per game so far this season and has 794 career points to date. At his current pace, he too is well on track to join the 1,000-point club in the latter stages of the 2015-2016 regular season.

Tewksbury’s dynamic duo got the Redmen off to a quick start against Malden, as Tenaglia scored 10 points and Derrah added eight while the home team took a 19-12 lead after one quarter. Tenaglia slashed to the hoop for 12 more points in the second quarter (while Derrah added five) and TMHS took a 39-28 halftime lead.

The under-sized Redmen couldn't shake the taller Golden Tornadoes largely due to a significant rebounding deficit, but Tenaglia added seven more points in the third quarter while Derrah had six, and TMHS led 57-45 after three.

In the fourth quarter Tenaglia and Derrah called on their supporting cast to put the game away. Senior guard Ryan Briggs scored seven points in the final eight minutes and sophomore guard Giovanni Ciampa added a critical three-pointer in an 8-0 Tewksbury run that stretched the lead to 20 at 69-49 with five minutes to play.

Ciampa finished with nine points on a trio of three-pointers, while senior forward Adam Gajjaoui and senior forward Bobby Piccolo added three each. Briggs (seven points) chipped in with three assists and three steals, while Gajjaoui had five rebounds and three assists. Tenaglia added five rebounds and four steals to his impressive stat sheet, while Ciampa grabbed four rebounds.

In spite of the 4-0 start, both Conners and Tenaglia see room for improvement in the Redmen.

“We got smashed on the glass tonight,” Conners said. “We did not consistently box guys out. Our guys aren’t committed to rebounding. It’s our biggest weakness and we have to fix it now before it hurts us.”

Tenaglia agreed. “We gotta work on rebounding,” he said. “I think we only deserve  a C-plus or a B-minus so far. We can still get up there, score more points,  get more passing going in the offense, more boxing out, more rebounding. We can get better.”

The Redmen will have five days off to enjoy the holidays before participating in the Knights of Columbus Larry McGrath basketball tournament at Wilmington High School on Dec. 28 and 29.


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