Redmen Fall To Lowell On The Road, 80-64
Jan 19, 2016 11:12PM
By Rick Spencer
Senior forward Justin Derrah (42) led Tewksbury with 17 points against Lowell.
After they posted an uncharacteristically dismal 8-12 record last season, there weren’t a lot of people in Massachusetts high school basketball circles who thought that the Lowell High Red Raiders would be much of a threat in the 2015-2016 season.
But don’t try to tell the Tewksbury High Redmen that.
TMHS simply ran into a buzz saw Tuesday night, as Lowell High continued its impressive early season run with a convincing 80-64 victory over Tewksbury at the Ray Riddick Fieldhouse. The Red Raiders, who last week made their debut in the Boston Globe Top 20 poll at No.7, followed up an eye-opening 79-69 victory over Central Catholic last Friday night with another statement win over another highly ranked Merrimack Valley Conference opponent on Tuesday. Lowell now stands at 9-1 overall, 7-1 against MVC opponents.
“I said right from the start they have the most talent in the league, in terms of straight out ability to score the ball,” said TMHS head coach Phil Conners after watching his team suffer only its second loss of the season. “I told (Andover coach) Dave Fazio before our game last week that Lowell is the most talented team in the league, and you saw it tonight. Honestly, they’re just really good.”
Senior guard Sean Bryan and talented freshman guard Quest Harris were the two biggest thorns in Tewksbury’s side on Tuesday, as Lowell’s back court tandem combined for 47 points between them. Both Bryan ( a game-high 28 points) and Harris (19 points) exhibited impressive penetrating skills, and when Tewksbury dropped back into a zone defense, Bryan, Harris, sophomore guard Alex Rivers (14 points) and junior guard Tim Sousa (nine points on 3-for-3 shooting behind the arc) simply shot the ball over the TMHS zone.
“We couldn’t stop them,” Conners said. ”They were tough to match up against. Harris is a helluva player and Sean (Bryan) is unbelievable. It was really hard. Initially the plan was to play a little zone and force them to make shots, but obviously, they made a million shots.”
The Redmen, who hadn’t played since last Tuesday, looked a bit rusty in the first quarter, missing their first four shots and turning the ball over twice before scoring their first field goal with 5:08 left in the period. Bryan scored eight points and Harris had nine as Lowell jumped out to a 22-14 lead at the end of one. TMHS sophomore guard Gio Ciampa connected on a trio of three-pointers late in the period to keep Tewksbury from falling too far behind.
The Redmen stormed back with an 11-2 run to open the second period as senior captains Justin Derrah (nine points in the quarter) and Nate Tenaglia (seven points) started to find their rhythm. Tewksbury took a brief, 25-24 lead at one point, but Lowell caught fire and buried 6-of-7 three-point field goal attempts in the final four minutes of the first half, and took a 42-35 lead into the locker room.
TMHS senior forward Adam Gajjaoui got untracked in the second half and scored 10 of his 13 points over the final two periods, to keep Tewksbury within striking distance until the final few minutes of the game. But every time the Redmen made a run, either Harris or Bryan answered for Lowell.
With the win, Lowell remains unbeaten at home, while the Redmen fall to 4-2 on the road.
“I knew we were an underdog coming in here,” Conners said. “So far, it seems like every team is winning at home. We beat Andover at home, we beat Lawrence at home. They (Lowell) lost to Lawrence at Lawrence, Central beat us at home, Central lost here (in Lowell).
“Every big game is being won at home,” Conners added. “I guess it comes down to where you’re comfortable making shots, and they looked real comfortable tonight.”
Derrah led Tewksbury with 17 points on the night while Tenaglia had 16. Ciampa finished with 14 points and Gajjaoui had 13. Senior guard Ryan Briggs added four.
So the Redmen fall to 8-2 overall, 5-2 in MVC play. Tewksbury sits atop the MVC Division 2 standings with a comfortable lead over Billerica (3-4 in the MVC) and Chelmsford (3-5 in the MVC). The Redmen will get back to the meat of their MVC Division 2 schedule with home games against Chelmsford (on Friday) and Haverhill next Tuesday.
“It’s a huge stretch,” Conners said. “We just gotta put this one away and get back at it.”