Redmen Tough It Out At Methuen, 69-61Feb 02, 2016 11:22PM ● By Rick Spencer
The truth is, Tuesday night’s gritty, 69-61 victory over Methuen High School will not be one of the wins that the Tewksbury High Redmen reminisce about at their 25th high school reunion. Other than senior guard Nate Tenaglia’s fifth 30-plus point game of the season, there wasn’t much that stood out about this one, other than the fact that the Redmen found a way to get the job done in enemy territory against a rough and tumble team that had won eight of its last nine games .
“This is a good road win, this (Methuen) team is a really good team,” said Tewksbury head coach Phil Conners after watching Tenaglia toss in 32 points to pace the Redmen to their 11th win of the season. “I wasn’t super confident coming in here, seeing how hard they play, how tough they are. They’ve beaten a lot of good teams. Lowell got a buzzer beater here to beat them, so they’re a good team.”
On this night, Tenaglia and the Redmen were just a little bit better, though, as they raised their overall record to 11-3 and bumped their Merrimack Valley Conference record to 8-3. More importantly, the win guarantees TMHS a winning record on the season, and a spot in the 2016 MIAA state tournament.
Equally as important was the fact that first-place Tewksbury put some more distance between itself and Billerica in the MVC Division 2 standings, as the Indians fell to Central Catholic, 62-53 on Tuesday.
Tewksbury now stands at 8-3 in conference play, while second-place Billerica falls to 5-5. One more TMHS win combined with one more Billerica loss would clinch a third consecutive MVC Division 2 championship for the Redmen. And that could happen as soon as next Tuesday, when Tewksbury visits Billerica for a rematch of the Dec. 22nd contest that saw the Redmen bounce Billerica off of Tony Romano Court, 84-55.
But on Tuesday, all eyes were on a scrappy Methuen team that brought a 9-6 overall record into the contest. The Redmen jumped out to a 20-5 first quarter lead thanks to 10 quick points from Tenaglia and a swarming defensive effort that forced Methuen into committing seven turnovers.
Tewksbury lost its offensive flow in the second period but senior forward Justin Derrah muscled his way to the basket for nine points in the quarter, and TMHS maintained a 33-24 lead at the half.
Tenaglia tossed in 10 more points in the third quarter, and a buzzer beater from senior guard Brian Nazaire off an offensive rebound boosted the Tewksbury lead to 49-40 heading into the final period.
Methuen refused to surrender, though, pulling to with six points on three separate occasions in the fourth quarter, but Tenaglia tossed in 10 more points (six from the free throw line) over the final eight minutes and Tewksbury was able to salt this one away.
“Nate was awesome,” Conners said. “His start was unbelievable. I think we tried to relay on him a little too much after that but we’ll keep working on that. He wants the ball and we want him on the line when the game is on the line.”
Derrah finished with 15 hard-fought points, in spite of a tough shooting night.
“Justin was fighting his butt off,” Conners said. “I thought he had a good day. He did a really good job defending.the post. They’ve got a good post game, but you couldn’t even tell because he did such a good job defending the post.”
Overall, Conners was more than satisfied with his team’s third straight victory.
“The effort was good the whole way,” Conners said. “I thought we fought through adversity. It’s a hard shooting gym. When I played here I hated it. It’s not one of my favorite gyms, that'S for sure.
“But I didn’t think our effort ever waivered," he added."So I was happy with that.”
Senior guard Ryan Briggs added seven points in the game, while sophomore guard Gio Ciampa had five. Nazaire and senior forward Adam Gajjaoui each tossed in four and senior guard Colby Nowak had two.
Tewksbury takes a break from MVC action to visit Malden on Friday night before retuming MVC play at Billerica next Tuesday.