NEWTON, Mass. -- Newton North picked up their seventh win of the season, as well as fifth conference victory, as they defeated Weymouth, 62-37.
The Tigers (7-0) defense proved to be the difference, as they forced the Wildcats (6-1) to convert numerous turnovers, which led to various fast-break baskets in all four quarters.
“I really thought we clamped down,” said Newton North head coach Paul Connolly. “As a team, they were averaging 70 points a game, [but] we held them to 37 points, so there was no question, it was our defense.”
Despite a quiet first few minutes, Newton’s senior Barry Santana, (10 points, 8 rebounds) helped the Tigers earn a small lead before Weymouth sophomore David Harrison sank a three-pointer, which cut North's lead to 12-10 at the end of the first quarter.
“Barry’s just constantly active. His motor is so high, he just keeps moving, and moving and moving,” Connolly said.
Newton North’s offense came alive during the opening minutes of the second frame when senior guard Michael Thorpe (15 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds) set up the other senior Luke Westman for a three-pointer, which gave the Tigers a 19-11 lead and electrified the home crowd.
“We didn’t come out of the gate, and it got worse from there, and [Newton’s gymnasium is] a tough place to play,” said Weymouth head coach Jim Dolan. “We haven’t had a lot of success over the years here at Newton North, tonight was no different.”
Weymouth’s offense attempted to erase their opponent’s lead, but failed, as they entered halftime trailing 31-19 before Newton North’s lead balloon to 49-26 after three quarters.
“Once we got down, we just fell apart,” said Dolan. “We just didn’t live up to the hype of the game, I guess, but it’s a long season.”
The Tigers earned their largest lead of the game when Santana hit a layup to start the fourth quarter before Connolly replaced his starters with his bench, who held the Weymouth reserves to 11 points.
“We have really focused a lot on our defense, and we have in the past, and it’s just that this year, these kids have really bought into it, and I think defensively we’re exceptional right now,” said Connolly.
Connolly earns 200th victory: As the clock slowly began to wind down in the fourth quarter, the Newton North fans rose to their feet to salute Paul Connolly, who earned his 200th career victory with the Tigers on Tuesday evening.
“I’ve got a great group of guys that have played for me in the past, some really good players, some talented kids, [and] great assistant coaches,” said Connolly. “When I took over the program, Tom Donnellan was the freshman coach, [and] he’s now my assistant coach. Joe Siciliano was the JV coach, he’s now the JV coach.
"Rob Greenfield is the assistant JV coach, [and also] played for me. John McNamara is now the freshman coach, played for me, and Tom McKniff, who is the Godfather of Newton North basketball, has been here for 30 plus years, he’s out scouting tonight somewhere, so it feels really good, but again, I’ve had really, really good players.”
The head coach continued by saying, “This is a great school to coach in [with] great support, and I’d be remiss again if I didn’t mention Hank Smith, who I coached with at Emerson College, and also Dave Powell, who I coached with at St. Patrick’s High School and Norwood High School. [He] saw something in me as a coach, and gave me a chance, and I spent a lot of time as an assistant coach, so that was a nice victory for us tonight.”