CHELMSFORD — With the Merrimack Valley Conference boys basketball Division 2 Cup up for grabs in its season finale, North Andover clung to a five-point lead in the third quarter.
Adrian Torres, however, was just getting started.
The Dracut junior converted five layups before the end of the quarter to highlight his 33-point effort, as the Middies took control and fended off every Scarlet Knight attack over the final eight minutes to earn a 73-66 victory Thursday afternoon.
Torres scored 13 points while making all six of his third-quarter shots en route to a 16-for-22 performance, most of them coming on drives he often finished scooping left. Senior teammate Kevin Agyeman added 23 points, including 10 in the fourth, denying North Andover, which closed to within three points six times down the stretch.
“We knew they had two guys that had dribble penetration that could hurt us,” North Andover coach Paul Tanglis said. “And it really did. We fell a little short tonight, but I’m proud of these guys. They battled all year. In a crazy year.”
With five players contributing at least four points in the opening half, North Andover took a 36-33 lead into intermission. Five points from Jake Wolinski and three from Jack O’Connell provided a 44-39 advantage with 4:45 left in the third.
Then Torres outscored the Knights 10-7 by himself, giving Dracut a 54-51 lead with his final lay-up of the quarter.
Although North Andover would lose for the eighth time in its 12-game season, no one on the Knight bench was feeling bad for himself.
“I’m happy for them that we got a season,” Tanglis said. “I’m happy they made it to this point. They were resilient. Nothing bothered them. They just came out and wanted to play, and at the end of the day, that’s what we were able to do. I’m happy for the seniors that they had a chance to play in a final game like this. We were lucky.”
Two of those seniors capped careers with solid outings. Jake Wolinski scored 16 of his 25 after intermission and Matt Kutz finished with 13 points. Junior Jack O’Connell matched his season high, scoring 15 for the second straight game.
“It certainly was a crazy season,” said Wolinski, who had seven 3’s. “Coming up as a freshman or sophomore you can’t imagine having a senior season to look like this. But it was awesome, and just to have an opportunity to play was what truly mattered. With this special group of guys we have, I’ll forever remember competing with each other every single night.”
Wolinski finished the year averaging a team-high 17.1 points per game. More importantly he played beside freshman brother and year-long starter Zach.
“It was very special,” Wolinski said. “We’ve been playing together in the driveway for years, and this was our first time to be able to play organized basketball together, and we just tried to cherish every moment of it because we knew it was going to be short.”
Dracut 73, North Andover 66
MVC D2 Cup Final
Dracut (73): Jordan Long 1 0-2 2, Kevin Agyemang 8 2-2 23, Adrian Torres 16 1-5 33, Victor Azevedo Cardoso 0 0-0 0, Mitchell Cripps 2 4-5 9, Nathan Boateng 0 0-0 0, Derek Vignone 2 0-0 6. Totals 29 7-14 73
North Andover (66): Matt Kutz 4 2-2 13, Drew Connolly 3 1-2 7, Jake Wolinski 8 2-2 25, Jack O’Connell 7 1-2 15, Zach Wolinski 1 0-0 2, Chris Pensavalli 2 0-1 4. Totals 25 6-9 66
3-pointers: Dracut — Agyemang 5, Avignone, Cripps; NA — J. Wolinski 7, Kutz 3
Dracut (5-7): 16 17 21 19 — 73
North Andover (4-8): 15 21 15 15 — 66