Perhaps it was too much drama in one week.
Tuesday night’s contest between 12-1 Winthrop and undefeated Lynn English had been billed as the game of the year on the North Shore.
However, the Vikings already had turned in their own game of the year two nights earlier when Gavin Mahoney drove the lane and dropped in a basket with four seconds to go to give Winthrop a dramatic 52-50 win over Cathedral of Boston.
Moments earlier, Viking Jared Bingham, seeing expanded playing time because of a bad back that sidelined Winthrop star Dino Mallios, had drained a three pointer to boost Winthrop into a 50-48 lead. Cathedral then came down and made two foul shots with 0:20 left on the clock, tying matters at 50-50, setting the stage for Mahoney’s heroics.
“Jared scored 17 points and played an outstanding game, and then Gavin came through in the clutch for us,” said WHS head coach Dave Brown of the dramatic victory by his team, which also was without Jake Connors, who had banged up his knee early in the contest, and Michael Griffin, who has missed the last two weeks with an injury.
As for Tuesday night’s affair at English, the Vikings got off to their worst start of the season, enduring a first quarter that saw them trailing by 20-3 at the first buzzer. “We were too tense and played tentatively, while English was hitting all of their shots,” said Brown.
However, Winthrop persevered and recovered nicely over the next eight minutes, turning the tables on English, rated by many as the top team in the state, by outscoring the hosts 20-9 and leaving the floor trailing by just six, 29-23, at the intermission.
The Vikings clearly appeared to have swung the momentum to their side and continued their uphill battle, eventually reaching the summit when the scoreboard read 37-36 in their favor midway through the third period.
However, that would prove to be the Vikings’ apogee on the night. The Bulldogs refused to fold and bounced back from the Winthrop counterpunch to go on a 12-1 run to close out the quarter with a 48-39 advantage entering the final frame.
Winthrop proved unable to cut into that margin the rest of the way, as the Bulldogs kept the Vikings at bay with an 8-10 point lead the rest of the way. Some meaningless hoops in the final minutes left the final score at 68-51 in favor of English.
Mallios, despite playing with a sore back, led Winthrop with 27 points.
Last Friday the Vikings easily too care of business with their nearby rival Revere, handing the Beach City Patriots a 77-52 defeat. The contest might have had the classic appearance of a “trap” game for the Vikings against a 3-8 foe which has defeated a 12-2 Chelsea team on both occasions this season, most recently two days earlier, 73-66.
However, Winthrop jumped out on top 23-6 in the opening period and never really looked back. Revere closed the gap somewhat in the third period, but the Vikings reignited their offensive thrusters and zoomed back into comfortable margin territory.
Mallios led all scorers with 28 points, while teammate Mark Jenkins hit for 17.
Brown and his crew now will set their sights on claiming the championship of the Northeastern Conference South Division with home games this week against Beverly on Friday and Marblehead on Tuesday. Although the Vikings defeated Marblehead, which is in second place in the South Division, earlier this season, the Magicians recently topped Salem and should prove a competitive foe.