MANCHESTER — Entering last night’s matchup with Masconomet, Manchester Essex boys basketball coach Bryan Shields knew the Chieftains’ size would present the Hornets with problems.
To help combat that, he plugged 6-foot-2 senior forward Dylan Estes into the starting lineup to help take pressure off the Hornets’ other post players in Sean Gutierrez and Taylor Ketchum.
But while Estes gave the Hornets some added muscle and grittiness in the paint, Masco’s size ultimately proved too much. The Chieftains dominated the Hornets on the glass for large stretches of the game and held off a late Manchester Essex push, spoiling a 24-point performance from the Hornets’ Max Nesbit in securing a 59-55 win.
“Masco has some good size and they run their sets well,” Manchester Essex coach Bryan Shields said. “I don’t think we shot the ball as well as we’re capable of. It’s been a couple of games now where we haven’t really shot the ball as well as I know we can, but their size made a lot of our shots difficult.”
It didn’t help that Gutierrez, the Hornets’ strongest post presence, was in foul trouble for much of the night. With Gutierrez going back and forth to the bench throughout the second half, Masco forwards Alberto Arenaza (12 points, seven rebounds) and Zach Turcotte (six points, six rebounds) were able to take over the game. While their numbers weren’t overwhelming, their presence commanded double teams and allowed for perimeter players to flood the paint, where they grabbed rebounds and extended possessions.
Despite that, though, the Hornets simply wouldn’t go away the whole night. Whenever it seemed the Chieftains would put them away — most notably during a 12-0 Masco run in the second quarter — Manchester Essex found a response.
To overcome that Masco push, Ketchum rattled off eight-straight points for Manchester Essex in an 8-1 run to cut Masco’s lead halftime lead to just 29-27.