LYNNFIELD — More often than not, it’s easy for a coach to pinpoint the difference in a game, whether it be what pushed a team to victory or what held it back in defeat.
For Manchester Essex coach Bryan Shields, last night’s Division 4 North quarterfinal matchup between the No. 5 Hornets and No. 4 Lynnfield was not one of those games.
As the first-year coach stood on the Lynnfield High School court following his team’s 63-50 loss to the Pioneers — the third time the Hornets fell to Lynnfield this season — he struggled to find a cause for his team’s downfall.
Simply put, the Hornets were just outplayed. Led by senior Patrick Kearney (18 points, 10 rebounds) and freshman center Adam Buchanan (15 points, eight rebounds), the Pioneers exploded for 39 second-half points and always had an answer to any Manchester Essex push.
At the end of the day, that was enough to push the Pioneers forward in the state tournament and end the Hornets’ season.
“They just came out and played,” Shields said of Lynnfield. “I worked on strategy and we thought we matched up well against them. They made a lot of shots, you have to give them credits. They shot the ball well. They had some open looks but some stuff I thought we covered pretty well. Bottom line is they made shots and we struggled a little bit from the field.”
Leading by two points after a sound first half, the Hornets appeared to be in the driver’s seat heading into the second half.
With their 2-3 zone defense shutting down the Pioneers — with the exception of Kearney, who posted 14 of his 18 points in the first half — and their offense moving the ball effectively and finding open shots, the first 16 minutes went as well as the Hornets could have hoped.