Slow Start, Great Ending for Lowell
LOWELL -- It was not the start they were looking for.
But the ending was perfect.
The Lowell High boys basketball team trailed North Andover 11-0 to start the game, but rallied to post a 63-46 victory during Senior Night at the the Riddick Field House on Friday night.
The team improved to 15-2 and 12-2 in Merrimack Valley Conference Division 1. North Andover falls to 11-4 overall and 8-4 in the MVC.
Lowell avenged an earlier 67-61 loss to the Scarlet Knights.
“We did get off to a very poor start,” Lowell head coach Bob Michalczyk said. “They really buckled down on defense, especially in the second quarter. It was a terrific effort tonight.”
Lowell started all five seniors as a unit. Co-captains Justin Villaneuva and Deven Okowuga were joined by classmates AJ Boykai, Tyson Kong and Rashawn Settles.
Unfortunately North Andover came out red hot, led by nine points from senior guard Darren Watson, and took an 11-0 lead before Lowell got on the scoreboard.
The Scarlet Knights held an 18-11 lead after the first quarter.
The Red Raiders would dominate the second quarter at both ends, scoring 21 and holding their guests to nine points.
Lowell led 32-27 at the half.
The second half saw Lowell become more dominant and the it outscored North Andover 31-19 down the stretch and outrebounding the visitors 16-9.
Okowuga was the leading scorer with 19 points and six rebounds.
His two 3-pointers in the final minute passed hard-working and game MVP Settles, who had 18 points and seven rebounds. Settles also had five steals. Villanueva added seven rebounds and five steals on the defensive end.
Boykai chipped in seven points and three steals.
Overall, Lowell outscored its guests 63-35 in the final 26 minutes of the game.
North Andover was led by its usual high scorer in senior guard Jake McElroy, who netted 16 points. Watson, after a hot start, had 11 points in the losing cause.
Michalczyk said LHS coaches preached a better effort than during the first meeting against North Andover.
“We’ve been drilling it into them the last couple of days,” he said.
The Red Raiders have little time to savor this key win.
Lowell returns to action today with a 1 p.m. game against non-league opponent Newburyport.