The Winthrop High boys basketball team continued its winning ways, taking two of three games during the past week.
Winthrop faced non league rival Malden, a Division 1 school from the Greater Boston League, last Wednesday. After a slow start which saw the Golden Tornados jumped out to a 19-16 lead in the opening period, the Vikings changed their defensive tactics which immediately yielded benefits. Winthrop went on a big run in the second frame that opened up a nice lead by the half, an advantage that Winthrop expanded through the third quarter.
The final tally showed Winthrop a winner by 12, 61-49, and the simple math reveals that Winthrop limited Malden to just 30 points over the final three periods.
Mark Jenkins came though with his biggest effort of the season, which was all the more important because Jake Connors, the Vikings’ high leaping pivot man, was saddled with foul trouble. However, Mark answered the call at both ends of the floor, ending up as high scorer with 20 points, hauling in eight rebounds, and doing a superb job against Malden’s taller front court.
Dino Mallios was next on the point parade with 13 points, while also bringing down seven defensive boards. Michael Griffin made his best contribution of the year with 12 points and four assists. Gavin Mahoney did his usual thing with seven points and seven assists in running the Viking offense.
A few nights later, Winthrop manhandled yet another D-1 team, Northeastern Conference rival Peabody. The Vikings played what head coach Dave Brown termed, “about as perfect a game by any team I’ve ever coached,” as his squad vaulted to a “this is not a misprint” 45-16 advantage at halftime. “We couldn’t miss a shot and we played tough defense. It was fun to watch.”
The big lead gave Brown an opportunity to give all of his players some meaningful playing time en route to the eventual 67-45 triumph. Mallios ended up with 20 points (18 coming in the first half), with Jenkins hitting for 12. Mahoney added six points to go with six assists.
However, all good things must come to an end, and the Vikings’ perfect 9-0 record suffered its first blemish of the season with a 65-62 loss to Lynn Classical Tuesday evening at the local gym.
“Classical threw a bunch of gimmicky defenses at us and I didn’t adjust quickly enough,” said Brown, assigning the blame to himself. “We took too many three point shots and that hurt us.”
Brown pointed to his team’s 10 for 34 shooting from beyond the arc as the chief culprit for the defeat. Classical also enjoyed a 47 to 26 edge in rebounding, which also typically spells disaster for a team.
However, despite those stats, the Vikings almost pulled off a miraculous comeback. Winthrop chopped a 15 point Classical lead down to one, 63-62, in the final minute. However, a Classical player who was fouled hit both of his charity stripe shots to make it 65-62. The Vikings then got two good looks at the basket from three point land, but one shot was back rimmed, the other was front rimmed, and time ran out on the comeback bid.
With his teammates in a shooting slump, Mahoney picked up the slack and pumped in 24 points. Jenkins once again reached double figures with 11.
Winthrop will seek to get back on the winning track when Brown and his crew, who need just one more win to clinch a berth in the state tourney, travel to always tough Salem Friday.