It’s official. The Lynn English High boys basketball team is the 2020 state champion, bringing the trophy home to Goodridge Street for the second year in a row. Head Coach Antonio Anderson and his team accepted the trophy from MIAA Associate Executive Director Richard Pearson in an outdoor ceremony at the school, a short walk from the Paul Cavanagh Memorial Fieldhouse where another banner will be raised this winter.
Antonio Anderson had made it clear in March – when the MIAA canceled the state championship game at the DCU Center due to the COVID-19 pandemic – that he didn’t particularly like “co” state championship-status. But the MIAA addressed that issue, engraving “State Champions” on the trophy. When the Lynn English Hall of Fame Committee inducts this contingent in a decade from now, they will be known for being a part of an unprecedented accomplishment: back-to-back state championships and back-to-back No. 1 rankings in Massachusetts.
“This is the hardware that you won,” Pearson, a former high school principal, told the players and coaches. “I work with 380 schools in Massachusetts and about 230,000 athletes. Every time we get to state finals and I’m able to give a trophy to the students, I can honestly tell you what it represents to me and what I do every day: It’s that moment in time when you’re on the court and you’re representing all the high school athletes in Massachusetts.
“You are showing your passion, your love for what you do, and when you are on that basketball court and playing your game, you are really representing every high school kid in Massachusetts, and that’s the greatest thing I think we can do,” said Pearson. “Congratulations on a job well, well done.” Lynn English High School Vice Principal Gary Molea and Director of Athletics Dick Newton attended the ceremony and proudly stood with the team in the official trophy presentation photo.
“I think this is unbelievable,” said Molea. “I’ve been around a long time and I saw the Classical teams and they were great players and take nothing away from our guys. To win back-to-back state titles at the Division 1 level is a big accomplishment. But more than that, as being a vice principal in this school, these kids are great kids, character kids, leaders in the school, a terrific group of kids. My eyes watered every time I see these seniors leaving.
The last two years have been unbelievable and now we’re going for the three-peat.” Newton, a superb high school pitcher who went on to play college baseball at St. Leo University, set the foundation for the LEHS basketball program’s resurgence by recommending Antonio Anderson for the position and then providing all the resources and support he needed to be successful. Building the No. 1 program in Massachusetts takes a collaborative effort among the student-athletes, coaches, faculty, and school administrators.
“They’re a great group of kids and we’re going to miss the seniors,” said Newton. “When you win it all two years in a row, that’s something that probably doesn’t happen again in decades. We’re proud of them. They’re great students. They’re great kids. Antonio has developed a fantastic program and he’s done a great job and we’re hoping that Antonio stays as long as he wants to.
He has a great [assistant coaching] staff.” Anderson, a former University of Memphis star who went on to play for the Oklahoma City Thunder, said, “It’s great for the MIAA to come down and give us the trophy. The kids are happy. Ultimately we didn’t get to play the state title game and we would have earned that trophy anyways – I’m just saying that because of my belief in my team. It’s very rewarding to receive that trophy and to see our kids get this opportunity.
It’s definitely a special moment.” Anderson thanked former Lynn English Principal Thomas Strangie, who with Mr. Newton supported his program and was at all the playoff games and at courtside in the Garden for the state semifinal victory over Mansfield. “I wish Mr. Strangie nothing but the best,” said Anderson. “Since I came here three years ago, he’s been nothing but supportive. He came to our games. And every time I saw him at the school, he was always supportive of my players. It’s tough seeing him go, but I wish him nothing but the best.”