Successful First Round for ME Basketball Teams


The local boys' and girls' basketball teams each got the Div. 4 MIAA tournament started off on the right foot with victories in the Round of 32 on March 3.

The Manchester Essex girls team trounced first-round opponent Blue Hills RVT by a 62-29 score this past Friday, while the ME boys' team – fresh off of a perfect season in the Cape Ann League – beat Bay Path RVT by a 59-47 score later that evening.

“We had a very good shooting night and hit some shots early, so we started building a lead in the first quarter,” explains ME girls coach Lauren DuBois.  “We expected them to play a zone, so we worked a lot to prepare, and the team executed the offense very well.  We were also able to create some offense out of our defense by pushing the ball in transition which is something we have tried to do all year.”

Kacey O’Connell led the Hornets with 12 points, while Mechi O’Neill (11 points) and Kendal Newton (10 points also provided double-digit offensive performances.  Also of note was the play of Harper Brooks (five steals), MacKay Brooks (nine rebounds) and the defensive efforts of Calista Lai.

“It was a great start and nice to get the win at home in front a of a big crowd,” says DuBois.  “Each round of the tournament will get more and more difficult, so we will have two days to prepare for a completely different style of play.”

The same notion was shared by boys' basketball coach Tim St. Laurent, whose team was up by six at the half, but began to put some distance between them and Bay Path in the second half.

“We had a nice, 12-point win on Friday,” explains St. Laurent.  “Bay Path came in and kept it to six in the first half, but then we were able to get up by about 10-15 points for the rest of the game against a good team that we had never played before.”

Junior Eddie Chareas was monumental in the win, scoring 18 points to go along with 13 rebounds, five blocks and a big dunk at the end of the game that got the home crowd out of its seats.

“He blew out his knee and couldn’t play last year,” St. Laurent says of the junior.  “Since day one, he has slowly been getting better and better.  Now, he’s one of the best big men out there.”

Also playing well in the win were Cade Furse (18 points), Brennan Twombly (12 points) and Sam Athanas, who had a key three-pointer that stopped a Hornets slide early in the game.

“All of Sam’s shots are clutch shots,” says St. Laurent.

With the first-round wins in place, the local hoop teams move on to the Sweet Sixteen of the Div. 4 tourney.  The boys were slated to play Cathedral in Boston on March 6, while the ME girls' team was scheduled to face Notre Dame (from Worcester) on March 7.

“They are a very good team with a lot of weapons,” DuBois says of Notre Dame.  “They push the ball very well and get the ball to the basket for good looks.  They are also very active on defense.”

The coach states her team needs to focus on the fundamentals of the game to win this one.

“We need to take care of the ball and not give up easy transition points off turnovers and we have to defend the paint,” explains DuBois.  “Offensively we have to move the ball quickly, attack the basket, and keep shooting when we are open.”

Cathedral is a familiar foe for the boys' team, with the Hornets facing the Panthers in the tournament’s Sweet Sixteen for the second year in a row.

“We’ve seen them twice,” explains St. Laurent.  “Last year, we went in as a 12 [seed] and they were a five, and we were lucky enough to win that game.  We’re familiar with that gym.”

St. Laurent hopes his team can negate Cathedral’s strong perimeter game and continue to take advantage of the talented big men on the Hornet roster.

“Our strength is their weakness,” says the coach.  “We will work to get it inside to Twombly and Chareas, and hopefully our guards continue to help give us a balanced attack.”

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