Despite missing two regulars — Devon Sanders (broken leg) and Trevor Foley (fractured foot) — the second-seeded Mansfield Hornets were able to regroup to beat visiting Marblehead (15-5, 10th seed), 77-50, in a Division 2 Round of 8 state tournament game on March 10.
From the opening jump, the Hornets were all over the Magicians, leading comfortably at halftime, 39-20. While Eddie McCoy and J.T. Veiking led the home team in first half points with 14 apiece. Ryan Commoss was the top scorer for the visitors with six.
In the second half, Isaiah Makor tried to ignite his teammates with a quick layup, but Nate Creedon and McCoy nailed consecutive threes to increase the advantage to 47-22. No matter how many times coach Mike Giardi to slow down the Mansfield momentum, the Hornets had an answer after each stoppage in play.
After a Commoss turnaround layup in the lane, the Hornets stayed in their attack mode behind another three by McCoy and a bomb beyond the arc by Veiking. The lead was now 29, 55-26.
But the Magicians kept on scratching and clawing, still hoping to cut that huge deficit. Miles O’Neill followed up his own rebound for two points, and Magnus McCarthy swished another two. The deficit was back to 25, 55-30. It was 61-32 in favor of the home team after three quarters.
Marblehead allowed an average of 61 points per game this season, but in three quarters the Hornets were able to reach that total.
On the offensive end, the local quintet averaged 68 points per game. But in this game, the Marblehead offense ended up falling far from that mark.
Early in the fourth quarter, Makor fouled out of the game, a few minutes after scoring another two on a layup. He ended up with six points.
Tryone Countrymon paced the offensive attack in this game for the Magicians with 14 points. Commoss chipped in with eight. Lemmond accounted for six. Cam Comstock netted five. Scott Campbell had four. Aven Denbow, McCarthy and O’Neill scored two apiece. Adrian Barron buried one free throw.
Despite the loss, the Magicians had a memorable postseason run that included a close home win over Pembroke in a game that they were able to persevere in the end to pull out a five-point victory, 60-55. It set the stage for the thriller in Springfield against Pope Francis that was decided on a clutch rebound and layup by O’Neill, a sequence of events that he and all Marblehead hoop fans will never forget.
Giardi’s club finished with 15 wins, which catapulted them to be among the top eight teams in the state this year throughout Division 2.