English Royalty

The Bulldogs defeat Putnam, 64-57 to claim Division 1 state championship

First they beat three of the best of the state’s best basketball league, the Merrimack Valley. Then they ousted the best team in the south.

And finally they bested the best in the west in the central part of the state.

The Lynn English boys basketball team captured the Division 1 state basketball championship in an exciting 64-57 victory over Putnam Tech of Springfield Saturday at Holy Cross in Worcester.

It was a history-making achievement for Coach Antonio Anderson and the 2018-19 Bulldogs. The school last won the Class A Tech Tournament in 1939, that era’s equivalent of a state title.

Following a familiar post-season script, the Bulldogs played excellent, unselfish team basketball, tenacious end-to-end defense while receiving outstanding contributions from several players.

Alonzo Linton was the unofficial MVP of this contest with 27 points and 12 rebounds. He was 5-of-5 from the line, including four free throws in the fourth quarter.

Justin Fitzpatrick, a 6-foot-6-inch junior, showed he can hit the three-pointer and electrify an audience. He had a trio of treys and a crowd-pleasing alley-oop dunk courtesy of a Jack Rodriguez assist, for 11 points total.

“That play was amazing,” said guard Jarnel Guzman.

“It was nice,” said Antonio Anderson, who had some memorable dunks in his career. “It was nice. We’ve been telling Justin, if your man turns his back, go to the basket for a dive.”

Rodriguez, a sophomore guard, had 10 points and consistently drove past Putnam defenders to set up high percentage shots

“Jack did a great job attacking the basket,” said Guzman. 

Mason Jean-Baptiste, a junior guard, had nine points and some big steals, leading the containment of Putnam’s top guard, Taelon Martin.

Junior Jarnel Guzman, whose leadership in the backcourt and interior passes to Linton were vital ingredients the entire tournament, finished with seven points and six assists.

“My shots weren’t falling, but I had to get my teammates involved and I’m grateful for how the players gave it their all, and a big shoutout to Linton – he really came through,” said Guzman. “They couldn’t stop Alonzo down low. He was basically unstoppable.”

Senior guard Calvin Seng, he of the two clutch baskets against Central Catholic in the North sectional final, played some key minutes off the bench.

Putnam Coach William Shepard credited English for its superior all-around effort.

“We didn’t come up with the big stops and that’s a credit to Lynn English – their guard play was really good and he (Linton) was tough to defend,” said Shepard.

Antonio Anderson said he was happy to bring a state championship back to Lynn.

“It feels good,” said Anderson. “We’re all Lynn people. It’s a good feeling to bring excitement to Lynn through sports.”

The former Memphis star said he watched film of the Putnam team and felt “we came in with a good game plan and the players executed.”

Anderson said Linton’s work near the basket was instrumental in the victory.

“Alonzo is a mismatch for anybody,” said Anderson. “For a big zone, he can go by you. Guard low, he can post you up. He creates havoc for people.”

Anderson thanked the Lynn community for its support.

“The crowd support was awesome. To see the community come out and show support like that, it’s huge. From the mayor (Thomas McGee) to the Superintendent (Dr. Patrick Tutwiler), to everybody, my family, my friends, it was huge.”

Guzman summed up the Bulldogs’ unforgettable march in to the English record books.

“Winning a state title is an amazing feeling,” he said.

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