EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

February 6, 2013

Hornets clinch conference title

By Jeff Hamrick
sports@eagletribune.com

---- — WEST NEWBURY — Even if you’ve gone undefeated the first two months of a season, it doesn’t mean you’re ready for prime time. At least, not quite yet.

North Reading, one of four area teams ranked among the top 10 in Eastern Mass. polls, kept rolling last night with an easy 54-36 victory over Pentucket. But despite leading by as many as 29 points during a first half in which the Sachems managed a mere 13 points, the Hornets left coach Joe Casey less than thrilled.

“I thought we were sloppy,” Casey said after his squad clinched the Cape Ann Conference regular-season title. “I just told the kids in the locker room that we have to be a lot better than this if we want to make a run deep into the (state) tournament … I wasn’t happy with our sense of urgency.”

It was the 10th time this season and seventh in the past eight outings the Hornets (16-0 overall, 14-0 conference) held an opponent to fewer than 40 points. They have allowed more than 48 twice, including a season-worst 52 to Triton on Jan. 7. In fact, North Reading has not allowed more than 41 in any of its past eight games, a span in which two opponents were unable to reach the 30-point mark.

“We’re undefeated, but that’s not the goal,” Casey said. “The goal is to play our best basketball over the next two weeks (when they play their final four regular-season games).”

Besides its stifling man defense, the Hornets displayed many attributes which will serve them well once they play in the North sectionals for the first time in three years. After committing turnovers on its first two possessions, North Reading played error-free till the third quarter and finished with only 10 turnovers.

And with four players – starting seniors Michael O’Brien (13), Chris Capozzoli (13), John Mastascusa (12) and Thomas Hogan (11) – each scoring in double digits, the Hornets have the desired offensive balance. Each of those starters are at least 6-foot-2.

“This was a hard game to get up for because we beat (Pentucket) by (32) the last game,” Cappozzoli said. “We’ve got to play a lot better because this wasn’t even close to our potential. I’m trying to keep this all in perspective because I’m a senior and this will be my last chance to (play in the postseason). I don’t want to let a chance like this slip away.”

Calvin Wiles (11 points) was the only player in double digits for Pentucket (5-9, 4-9).

“They have a lot of size, and for us it’s a tough match-up,” Pentucket coach Ed Hickey said of the Hornets. “Their bigs do a great job of helping and rotating, and they’re very good at clogging up the paint. They also do a good job of creating turnovers. North Reading is a talented team.”

North Reading 54, Pentucket 36

North Reading (56): Michael O’Brien 4 5-6 13, John Mastascusa 6 0-0 12, Thomas Hogan 4 2-4 11, Chris Capozzoli 5 1-2 13, Carl Lipani 0 0-0 0, Colby Maiola 1 1-2 4, Scott McDonough 0 1-2 1, Nate Seed 0 0-3 0, John Fortes 0 0-0 0, William Mitchell 0 0-0 0, John Fitzgerald 0 0-0 0, Charles Hill 0 0-0 0, Scott Allan 0 0-0 0. Totals 20 10-19 54

Pentucket (36): Calvin Wiles 4 0-0 11, Michael Aiduk 2 1-2 7, Jake Bordeianu 1 0-1 2, Jake Chory 2 0-0 6, Adam Chory 1 0-0 2, Willi Sullivan 1 0-2 2, Ryan Beaton 0 0-0 0, Nathan Boone 1 0-0 2, Connor Beaton 1 2-3 4, Jeff Porter 0 0-4 0, Pat Beaton 0 0-0 0. Totals 13 4-12 36

3-pointers: NR — Capozzoli 2, Hogan, Maiola; P — Wiles 3, J. Chory 2, Aiduk

N. Reading (16-0, 14-0): 12 17 13 12 — 54

Pentucket (5-9, 4-9):  5  8 10 13 — 36