Melrose Beats Arlington, Plays New Mission in Quarterfinals Saturday
The top ranked Melrose High School boys' basketball team beat no. 16 Arlington 76-52 Thursday night in Melrose in the first round of the North Division 2 tournament. Currently, Melrose has a 21-game winning streak and is undefeated this season.
The No. 1 ranked and undefeated Melrose High School boys' basketball team eliminated no. 16 Arlington 76-52 Thursday night in Melrose in the first round of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association's North Division 2 tournament.
Melrose (21-0), which earned a bye in the preliminary round, advances to the quarterfinals, where they will host No. 8 New Mission (15-6) at 7 p.m. Saturday. New Mission advanced to the quarterfinals by narrowly beating no. 9 Reading 60-57 Tuesday at home.
The Spy Ponders finish the season 11-11. Arlington did win once during the tournament, beating no. 17 ranked Tewksbury (9-12) 68-52 at home on Monday night.
During the contest, Melrose staked itself to an early lead that it would not relinquish, as they went on a 14-0 run to open the game. Arlington did not get on the scoreboard until about the four minute mark. With just under two minutes remaining in the first quarter, senior Tyler Sullivan scored to get Arlington within nine points of Melrose, but that would be the closest the Spy Ponders would get to the Red Raiders on the night.
Melrose would build upon its 11-point first quarter lead in the second, led by junior forward and captain Frantzdy Pierrot's eight points during the quarter. About two minutes into the second, Pierrot raced ahead of the pack and dunked, bring the Melrose faithful to their feet.
Pierrot, who scored a game-high 23 points, helped the Red Raiders take a 40-24 halftime lead. Melrose coach Mike Kasprzak, coaching in his sixth season with the team, was impressed with Pierrot's performance during the playoff tilt.
"He is one of the better players in the state and the heart and soul of our team," Kasprzak said. "He did everything we asked him to do today. He put in a great effort and he is a great player."
Coming out of the break, Pierrot picked up where he left off, tallying seven points, followed by five markers by fellow captain Matthew Sherlock (20 points). The duo nearly matched Arlington's scoring output for the period (16-to-12), but Spy Ponders sophomore Miles Robinson did his best to keep his team in it, scoring eight of his 13 points on the night.
Melrose, which led 58-38 entering the final stanza, continued to work the glass, scoring points in the paint thanks in large part to a size advantage on their front line.
Unlike the first three quarters, the Red Raiders used a balanced attack in the fourth quarter, getting at least two points from seven different players to help increase the lead and eliminate Arlington from the tournament.
Melrose's leading scorers were Pierrot (23 points), Sherlock (20), Samual Jean-Gilles (12) and Colby Andrews with nine markers.
In the loss, Arlington's leading scorer was Sullivan (14 points), followed by Robinson (13), Alex Kim (eight) and Liam McKenzie with six points.
Kasprzak discussed how his team played in their first tournament game of 2013.
"We were a little sloppy with turning the ball over, but other than that we executed our game plan well so I'm happy," Kasprzak said.
On the flip side, Arlington coach John Bowler acknowledged that his team did not perform as well as it could have while the Red Raiders turned in a solid game.
"It was a tough game for us," Bowler said. "Melrose played very well and is pretty athletic. They got a lot of rebounds, forced a lot of turnovers that led to easy points and I think those two things were the big difference in the game."
While Arlington's season is over, Melrose will play New Mission of the Boston City League. Melrose has played New Mission previously and knows they will present some challenges, especially given their distinct size advantage, according to Kasprzak.
"We have played them three times before and we are going to give them our best shot," Kasprzak said. "We will probably be underdogs as a 21-win team, but we will give them our best shot. They have four players over 6-foot-6 so it will be a completely different game."
Melrose or New Mission will square off with the winner of Friday night's game between no. 4 ranked Salem (16-5) or no. 5 Brighton (16-6) in the semifinals.