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Bellingham Bulletin

BHS Quintet Bows in Tourney to Greater Lowell

Mar 28, 2019 06:00AM ● By Pamela Johnson

Michael Reissfelder (left) and Corey Chiappone

written by KEN HAMWEY, Bulletin Sports Editor

Greater Lowell High, a technical school located in Tyngsboro, has as its athletic mascot a Gryphon, which the dictionary defines as a beast that has the head and wings of an eagle and the body of a lion.

That description was more than appropriate when the school’s basketball team hosted Bellingham High in the second round of the Division 3 Central Sectional playoffs on March 1. The Gryphons trailed at halftime, 28-25, but in the third quarter they soared like an eagle and played with the ferocity of a lion. They outscored BHS, 21-11, in the third period and rolled to a 62-50 victory.

The triumph sent Greater Lowell to the tourney semifinals, where it lost to Hudson, 67-63.
Luis Huertas, a 5-foot-6 senior guard, scored 13 of his game-high 18 points, enabling Greater Lowell to eliminate the Blackhawks and end their season with a 16-6 overall record. Huertas connected on three of his five three-pointers in the third stanza.

“They shot well in the third period and we didn’t,” said the Blackhawks’ coach, TJ Chiappone. “Give them credit; they’re tough to defend and Huertas made some difficult shots, but I’m proud of our kids. It’s a special group, and being in the playoffs for the second straight year gives our program some momentum going forward.”

Michael Reissfelder led Bellingham with 11 points, followed by Corey Chiappone and Tate Pike with eight apiece.

“They made a good run in the third period and we never recovered,” Reissfelder said. They converted on well-defended shots. It’s sad to see our season end. This will hurt for a couple of days, but now it’s on to baseball.”

Corey Chiappone and Pike each lauded their opponent’s tenacity and pointed to Bellingham’s third-quarter difficulties. “It’s tough to end the season this way, especially for the seniors, but give Greater Lowell credit,” Corey said. “They hit shots and beat our defense.” Pike offered,  “Our defense and rebounding were effective in the first half, but Greater Lowell took care of business in the second half, and Huertas was tough to guard.”

Senior Paul Choate, a guard-forward who finished with 16 points, netted 10 in the second quarter, keeping the Gryphons within striking distance at intermission. Another key for Greater Lowell was the play of senior point guard Luis Mota, who scored nine of his 11 points in the second half. His court awareness and driving ability were prime assets.

The star of the game, however, was Huertas, whose high-arcing three-pointers dominated the Gryphons’ offensive arsenal. He was quick to credit his mother and his coach for his success. “My mom pushes me every day to be prepared for practice and to work hard,” he emphasized. “My job is to take shots and my coach [Joe Kane] always gives me the green light. Bellingham played us tough and pressured me a lot on defense, but we took care of business.”

Although BHS led at halftime by three, it missed an opportunity to put added pressure on Greater Lowell—the Blackhawks converted only three of 10 free throws in the second quarter. “We had a seven-point lead in that quarter, and those missed free throws hurt,” said assistant coach Kevin Grupposo. “There’s no doubt we let an opportunity slip away.”

Kane lauded his team but also had high praise for the Blackhawks. “We can score points and Luis (Huertas) often gets a ton of them,” he said. “We beat a good squad that plays tough defense, and I’ve got a lot of respect for that program.”

For the Blackhawks, March came in like a lion, or maybe it was more like a Gryphon.

32-0 Run Powers BHS Over Bromfield

The tourney opener at the BHS gym on Feb. 26 proved that defense is omnipotent, and that attribute enabled BHS to go on a 32-0 run that gave the Blackhawks a relatively easy 54-24 victory over Bromfield.

Playing before a full-house crowd at Bellingham’s gym, 12th-seeded Bromfield took a 5-2 lead after the first quarter as both squads suffered through a dismal offensive showing. Jack Buckley scored the Blackhawks’ only points with 1:53 left in the period, but after that quarter, the next three stanzas belonged to BHS.

Trailing the Trojans, 10-7, early in the second quarter, the Blackhawks surged for 32 consecutive points that spanned three periods. The onslaught began with Reissfelder scoring on a short jumper and Pike connecting on a three-pointer that gave BHS a 12-10 lead. The cushion ballooned to 19-10 at halftime on baskets by Buckley, Pike (three-pointer) and Corey Chiappone.

The third quarter was one for the record books because the Blackhawks pitched a shutout, outscoring Bromfield, 20-0. Reissfeider opened the period with a three-pointer, Chiappone drove for a layup, Mitch Olson dropped in a pair of in-close hoops, Reissfelder connected on a driving shot, Chiappone hit two more shots, Justin Crayton swished a three-pointer and Pike ended the quarter with a pair of free throws. The period ended with the Blackhawks ahead, 39-10, and in total control.

Bromfield was confused, looking like a battered prize fighter unable to figure out what had hit him. “We’re not used to that type of tempo,” said the Trojans’ coach, Tim Skaggs. “They played us man-to-man instead of using a zone defense and we struggled. Give them credit, though; they’re a good team.”

Cory Chiappone led the Blackhawks’ balanced attack with 11 points, followed by Reissfelder’s nine and Pike’s eight.

“We take a lot of pride in our defense,” said Chiappone, a co-captain who missed half the season because of a dislocated elbow. “Defense enables us to get turnovers and they lead to fast-break points. I was just trying to help the team and provide what was needed.”
Reissfelder, the other captain, said he wasn’t aware that the Blackhawks’ run was as high as 32 points, but he knew what had triggered it. “We did it with rebounding, steals, stops and fast-breaks,” he noted. “We got contributions from a lot of players, and our bench gave us good support.”

Coach Chiappone liked his squad’s balance and intensity and its willingness to excel on defense. “Defense wins and we thought we could pressure them and also outrun them,” he said. “Our depth proved to be a big advantage. This was a nice win for the program.”
Freshman guard Jayden Ndjigue led the Trojans with nine points. Qualifying for the tourney was a major achievement for Bromfield, which Bellingham defeated in 2003 for the State championship. The Trojans qualified for the first time in the last 12 years, and Skaggs has been the Trojans fourth coach in the last four seasons.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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