By Greg Phipps
The Peabody Tanners did everything well, but it still wasn’t enough to come away with a victory in their 55-47 first-round boys’ basketball playoff loss to the Lynn English Bulldogs last Wednesday at Lynn English High School. At one point, the Tanners built a seven-point lead in the first half and went into the break up by a 24-23 count. Peabody was aided by poor free-throw shooting from the Bulldogs, who went just 6-for-20 from the stripe over the first two periods. Seeded 12th in Div. I North, the Tanners, who finished 12-9 on the season, were led by Jake Irvine with 12 points, Avian Hernandez with nine points and 10 rebounds and Jake Gustin and Mike Tansey with seven and six points, respectively.
The fifth-seeded Bulldogs, who possessed a clear size advantage, outscored the visitors, 15-8, in the third quarter and grabbed a 38-32 lead they would not relinquish.
Peabody head coach Thad Broughton said his team played a “great all-around game” and had its opportunities. “It was a weird game. There were a lot of missed free throws and missed threes,” he said afterward. “I thought our defense played fantastic. It just came down to us not being able to knock down a few open looks. If we could have hit some of those, it would have made a difference.”
Broughton said the team’s strategy played out as hoped and the effort was there. “I can’t complain. We had our opportunities. I thought our guys executed offensively and defensively,” he explained. “You’ve got to come in with a good game plan against Lynn English. They’re such a tough team. I thought we executed it well; we just couldn’t hit enough shots.”
Despite giving up size to the Bulldogs, Peabody held its own in the paint, as Tyler Callahan, Tansey, Irvine, Hernandez, Gustin and Marcus Barker weren’t intimidated or hesitant to mix it up underneath. “It was nothing but heart from those guys. They kept us in the game,” Broughton said.
This marks the third straight year the Tanners have suffered an opening round playoff defeat. But Broughton said he got the most from his squad this season and that the program has made strides. The four senior starters – Irvine, Hernandez, Gustin and Barker – will be the biggest losses. “It was an unbelievable effort from our guys tonight. They left it all out on the floor, and I’m very proud of them,” he said. “We’re definitely going to miss these seniors. But it was a successful season and there are things we can build on for next year.”