DANVERS, Mass. -– Coming into Tuesday night's game against the host Danvers Falcons, Lynn English captain Freddy Hogan was 16 points shy of cracking 1,000 for his career. And for the first 16 minutes Danvers made him invisible, holding him to merely a layup in the second quarter.
The final 16 minutes, though, were a totally different story.
Hogan scored 21 points in the second half, including a flashy up-and-under that put him over 1,000 for his career and put the Bulldogs ahead for good, as they came back from a 16-point second-quarter deficit to beat the Falcons, 71-66.
“He said 'Coach, I'm so stressed. I just want to get this over with.',” English coach Mike Carr said. “He's a shooter and he couldn't get his shot up early; couldn't knock things down. For him to kind of settle down and regroup in that second half, and he did it off of defense as well, off of steals and off of penetration.”
The first half was a disaster for the Bulldogs. Danvers ran roughshod on the offensive end and shutdown the guard trio of Hogan, Stevie Collins, and Erick Rosario. Those three were held to seven points on 3-of-19 shooting in the first half. The Falcons led 33-22 at the break.
Hogan and Rosario brought the Bulldogs back in the third quarter. Hogan had 11 points while Rosario pumped in nine. By the end of the quarter, English had cut the deficit to two.
“We came out and pressured on defense,” Hogan said. “We got in the passing lanes and were deflecting balls. [Erick] played great. He always comes in in the clutch when we need him.”
The Bulldogs forced Danvers into 22 turnovers, which made for a difficult night for Danvers coach John Walsh and his small rotation of players.
With junior center Peter Merry injured, the Falcons relied on sophomore Rashad Francois and junior big man Devan Harris to shoulder the load. Francois netted 14 points, including three 3-pointers. Harris dealt with English's Johnny Hilaire and Danny Lukanda in the paint and rumbled his way for 22 points. Harris also pulled down 10 rebounds.
Eventually, the Falcons' lack of bench depth caught up to them.
“It was hard because you're asking Kieran Beck to defend one of their big guys and then have to bring the ball up the floor,” Walsh said. “We don't really sub much. Maybe that's my fault; I don't know. We've never really subbed much in the past. I think the kids are learning how to play against this type of talent. We had a huge turnover from last year's class. The kid's are just becoming acclimated with the Northeast large and it is what it is.”
Big moments mean big men: English's guards festered and pestered Danvers in the second half, but it was the duo of Danny Lukanda and Johnny Hilaire in the paint that kept the Bulldogs afloat and drove them to the win.
The 6-foot-3 Lukanda quietly scored 14 points but left his stamp on the game with 13 rebounds, including five in the fourth quarter.
“He has been a double-double guy for us all year,” Carr said of Lukanda. “He bangs, he gives us toughness. He doesn't look like a post player but he jumps like a post player.”
Lukanda also played a role in the transition game, poking away two steals.
“I just feel like I have to have it,” Lukanda said of rebounding. “If the team needs it I have to go get it that's just how I feel. I feel like I'm the rebounder on the team; if we need it I have to go get it.”
Beside and, for portions of the game, above Lukanda was the 6-foot-6 Hilaire who skyed out of the gym several times to thrown down dunks and block shots. Hilaire had 15 points and six rebounds but it was his leaping ability that stole the show.
Hilaire had five blocks, including three in the fourth quarter that played a large role in the Bulldogs eking out the win. Hilaire said he was happy with the win and that playing alongside Lukanda keeps him motivated.
“It's very intense because he makes you want to play better,” Hilaire said. “The way he got rebounds is so crazy that he makes just want to do your stuff.”