It’s official now. No team is playing better basketball in eastern Massachusetts than Antonio Anderson’s Lynn English Bulldogs.
The English hoopmen will compete for the Division 1 state championship Saturday in Worcester after completing a 32-minute clinic of team basketball that resulted in an impressive 76-62 victory over Newton North Tuesday night at the TD Garden.
With hundreds of enthusiastic English fans in attendance, including Lynn Mayor Thomas McGee in the stands and Principal Thomas Strangie and AD Dick Newton at courtside, the Bulldogs took control with a 22-point first quarter and repelled every challenge with key hoops and defensive stops.
Alonzo Linton continued his post-season dominance in the paint. The senior center was immense from the tapoff, putting eight quick points on the board in the first quarter. Linton scored 20 points, 16 coming in the first half.
Jarnel Guzman also became an instant Garden sensation by hitting three 3-pointers in the first quarter. Guzman, a junior guard, led all scorers with 22 points, continuing a surge of excellence that began with a 28-point effort against Andover in the North sectional semifinals.
And if that 1-2 punch wasn’t enough for Newton North to contain, sophomore guard Jack Rodriguez became the go-to guy in the second half with 13 of his 19 total points.
Other key contributors were Mason Jean-Baptiste and Justin Fitzpatrick who each had six points, and Calvin Seng who once again excelled off the bench following his huge effort against Central Catholic in the North sectional finals.
Freshman Kanye Wavezwa scored English’s final basket of the game to the delight of his supporters in the audience.
Anderson said his players deserve the praise because they’ve worked hard all season and have subscribed to the team philosophy.
“They’ve bought in to what we’ve been doing, and it’s been wonderful,” said Anderson. “They deserve everything that is coming their way. We have just one more (versus Putnam).”
Anderson felt the lightning-quick start and the 22-point first quarter were crucial to the victory.
“Jarnel hit some shots. Alonzo got some layups. Jack got some layups and it got us a good lead,” said Anderson. “They fought back, but we were able to keep our composure and keep the lead.”
Basically, it was some terrific guard play and the inside presence of Linton and Fitzpatrick that set the tone for the game.
“We able to spread the floor and everyone can create their own shots and that’s what gives us a huge advantage on offense,” said Anderson.
The head coach thanked the English fans for their support.
“For Lynn to be sitting where it is right now [playing for a state championship, it’s a huge thing for the city,” said Anderson. “You see the mayor here, you see people just supporting us – the fans that came out tonight, we’ll see them again on Saturday.”