By Conor Walsh
---- — GLOUCESTER — The Gloucester boys basketball team got itself on track Tuesday night, grabbing its first win of the season with an impressive road showing in Winthrop.
But for a squad that lacks both experience and depth, a quick turnaround can be a coach’s worst fear.
Fishermen coach Bill Cahill went through that last night, as a tired Gloucester team welcomed a strong Malden Catholic team to Gloucester High.
With the Lancers depth and experience coupled with Gloucester’s fatigue, the result was as expected.
Malden Catholic used its aggressive trap defense to mount a 9-0 run late in the second quarter, building a 16-point halftime lead, and never looked back, as the Lancers improved to 3-0 on the young season with a decisive 73-50 victory.
“We were just a step behind tonight,” Cahill said. “It was a struggle. Obviously, they were fresher than we were. We just had an off night.”
It was clear from the opening tip that the Lancers presented Gloucester with a tough matchup. Malden Catholic coach Jim McCune has a senior-laden roster at his disposal, and with the depth of talent on his bench, ran a 10-man rotation from the start.
With that kind of depth, the Lancers were able to push the tempo. They put full-court pressure on the Fishermen, forcing inbounds passes to the sidelines and instantly trapping the pass’s recipient.
At times, the Fishermen were able to break through that trap, which gained them some easy buckets in the early going. But more often than not, the trap did its job, forcing a slew of turnovers — travels, steals, errant passes — that allowed the Lancers to slowly build a lead through the first half.
And as the Fishermen wore down toward the end of the second quarter, Malden Catholic pounced. Over the final three minutes of the first half, the Fishermen were hardly able to gain halfcourt and Malden Catholic turned those turnovers into points, rattling off nine-straight before the halftime buzzer.
At that point, the game was all-but over, as the Fishermen simply didn’t have enough in the tank to mount a comeback.
“We had trouble with their trap, and, early, we missed a lot of layups and foul shots,” Cahill said. “We make those layups and foul shots, it’s a close game. The other thing to is that we’re young. We’ve got sophomores out there against seniors. You saw that tonight. Just have to learn from our mistakes and move on.”
The second half allowed each coach to empty his bench, allowing Cahill to give valuable experience to some of his younger players and giving Malden Catholic a chance to call off the dogs.
In all, 20 combined players notched points last night, 12 from Malden Catholic and eight from Gloucester.
Malden Catholic senior captain Kyle Sangster led all scorers with 18 points despite finding himself on the bench for much of the second half, and sophomore forward Karlens Joas (nine points) provided the night’s fireworks with a fast-break dunk.
On the other end, Drew Shairs led the Fishermen with 15 points, while point guard Jeff Oliveria pitched in nine points and provided a spark on the defensive end.
Obviously, things didn’t go the way Gloucester (1-2) had hoped, especially considering the momentum it carried from Tuesday night’s victory. But a non-league loss on short rest is far from the worst thing that could happen to a team, and the Fishermen will look to rebound when they travel to Swampscott on Friday night.
“It was a struggle,” Cahill said. “I just shuffled the kids in and out later in the game, tried to play everybody and see what we could do to get ready for Swampscott.”
Malden Catholic 73,
agateText_Bold:at Gloucester High School
MC: Sangster 6-5-18; Joas 4-1-9; Zahner 3-1-7; Cronin 3-1-7; McHugh 2-1-6; Philpot 2-0-6; MacIsaac 2-1-5; Ascolese 2-0-4; Batchelor 2-0-4; Smith 1-0-3; O’Brien 1-0-2; McKenzie 1-0-2.
G: Shairs 6-3-15; Oliveria 4-0-9; Adkins 3-2-8; Davis 3-2-7; Aptt 2-0-4; Murray 0-4-4; Pallazola 1-0-2; Vizena 0-1-1.
Halftime: MC 40-24.
3-pointers: MC Philpot 2, Sangster, Smith, McHugh; G. Oliveria, Davis.
Records: MC 3-0; G 1-2