GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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February 8, 2013

Manchester Essex shoots its way into tournament

ROCKPORT-- The maintenance department at Rockport High School may have its hands full changing lightbulbs in the school’s gym this morning. That’s because the Manchester Essex boys basketball team shot the lights out at Rockport High Thursday night to the tune of an 89-67 win.

In a well played game from both sides, the Hornets had their best shooting performance of the season draining 14 shots from behind the three point arc and shot an eye popping 53% (29-55) from the field.

That shooting performance propelled Manchester Essex (10-7) to a state tournament berth.

“We haven’t shot the ball like that all year,” Hornets head coach Bryan Shields said. “I knew we had it but this is the first time we really saw it and it was great.”

While the Hornets were elated with their shooting performance, it was a tough loss for the Vikings. Tim St. Laurent’s squad played a strong game getting the Hornets into second half foul trouble keeping them out of the lane while four players scored in double figures (Conor Kuykendall 16, Tucker Meredith 12, Adam Balzarini 11, Shaun Aspesi 10), but Rockport was helpless watching the Hornets knock down shot after shot.

With the loss Rockport (7-9) has its back up against the wall needing to win its final two games of the season (at Lynnfield Tuesday, vs. Amesbury Thursday) to qualify for the state tournament.

“It’s tough to search for words to say to the kids after a game like tonight,” St. Laurent said. “They executed and I loved the way they fought all game, you just have to give credit Manchester Essex, they hit everything tonight, it just stinks that we were on the other end of a performance like that.”

No matter what the Vikings did on the defensive end, Manchester Essex had an answer. The Hornets were able to beat Rockport’s vaunted full court press and work for open looks when the Vikings over committed. In the half court Shields squad moved the ball masterfully against the Vikings zone and set perfect screens to get shooters open looks from beyond the arc.

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