Tenaglia Joins The 1,000-Point Club; Redmen Get Past Dracut, 69-60
Jan 08, 2016 11:27PM
By Rick Spencer
Nate Tenaglia (4) is surrounded by coach Phil Coners and his teammates after scoring his 1,000th career point against Dracut Friday night.
Senior captain Nate Tenaglia became the sixth player in Tewksbury High basketball history to score 1,000 points in his career as the TMHS super star tossed in 23 points to lead the Redmen to a 69-60 victory at Dracut High School Friday night.
The win improves Tewksbury’s record to 7-1 overall, and 4-1 in the Merrimack Valley Conference, and stands as another important victory in the team’s drive to capture a third consecutive MVC Division 2 championship.
Outward appearances notwithstanding, however, all was not rosy for the Redmen on Friday night. Dracut had entered the game with a 1-5 overall record, and an 0-4 mark against MVC opponents. The Middies’ only win was in a consolation bracket game in the Lowell Catholic Holiday Tournament. Dracut was coming off a 26-point loss to a mediocre (4-4 overall) Methuen High team on Tuesday night, and TMHS had trounced the Middies by 28 points the last time these two teams met, last February in Dracut.
So when the Redmen couldn’t figure out how to close out the pesky Middies in the second half Friday night, and saw a 17-point halftime lead dwindle down to nine points in the fourth quarter, TMHS head coach Phil Conners was less than effusive when assessing his team’s performance after the game.
“We were awful,” Conners said. “I’m embarrassed and disgusted. The way we carried ourselves, the way we played. Attention to detail, boxing out, rebounding, all those things.”
To be fair, the Redmen were never really in danger of losing this game. Tenaglia entered the contest needing just 16 points to eclipse the 1,000-point mark, and he seemed hell bent on getting it done early. The TMHS captain scored 11 first quarter points, including a trio of three-pointers, to pace Tewksbury to a 22-12 lead at the end of one period. Tenaglia hit another three-pointer early in the second quarter, then got his next two points at the foul line to reach the 1,000-point mark.
Tenaglia, who is averaging 27.0 points per game so far this year, finished the first half with 19 points, and the Redmen held a comfortable 41-24 lead at halftime. It appeared that a Tewksbury victory was all but signed, sealed and delivered at that point, and the only reason for sticking around was to see how many points Tenaglia would score, and what the final margin of victory would be.
But that’s not how things played out. The feisty Middies, led by junior forward Eric Olson (he matched Tenaglia’s 23 points in the game) outscored Tewksbury 17-14 in the third period to cut the TMHS lead to 55-41 at the end of three periods. Dracut then outscored the heavily-favored Redmen 19-14 in the final eight minutes, and it took a workman-like 9-point fourth quarter effort from senior forward Justin Derrah to help TMHS hold on for the win.
“We just couldn’t close them out,” Tenaglia said afterward. “We just haven’t been closing out games very well the last few weeks. We just have to start getting up in guys, play better transition and start sharing the ball more.”
For the record, Tewksbury’s defensive effort was one of the bright spots Friday, as the Redmen forced more than a dozen Dracut turnovers. After getting significant scoring from only two players against Central on Tuesday, all five starters played key roles on Friday. In addition to Tenaglia’s 23, Derrah finished with 19, sophomore guard Gio Ciampa added nine, and senior forward Adam Gajjaoui and senior guard Ryan Briggs had eight each.
TMHS also shot considerably better against Dracut than it did against Central Catholic on Tuesday, hitting 25 of 51 field goal attempts against the Middies.
But Conners was taking little consolation in Tewksbury’ s improved marksmanship.
“It’s beyond shooting, it’s how you carry yourself in life,” Conners said. “We’re just not doing the right things, we’re not carrying ourselves the right way and we’re not learning the lessons either.”
The Redmen will have precious little time to figure things out, as next week’s schedule is as tough as it gets. Tewksbury faces once-beaten Andover at home on Tuesday night. The Golden Warriors knocked off Central Catholic, 62-55 Friday night to improve their record to 7-1 overall. Next Friday, The Redmen travel to Lowell High to face the 6-1 Red Raiders, who suffered their first loss of the season at Lawrence Friday night.