By Mike Stoller
It has hardly been a smooth ride for the Somerville boys’ basketball team, but the Highlanders are heading into the Division 1 North Sectional tourney as the No. 11 seed against No. 6 host Lynn English when the postseason gets underway tonight.
Somerville, which finished with a 12-8 record, clinched a state tourney berth last week with a win over non-league foe Burke. Lynn English enters the tourney with a 15-5 ledger.
The Highlanders played their last regular season game on Senior Night last Thursday, when they defeated visiting Peabody, 45-42. The squad’s eight seniors were recognized for their contributions to the program.
Somerville’s graduating class includes Captain Ruairi Palmer, John Lubin, Richard Guerrier, Corey Hairston, Danny Roche, Roubins Guerrier, Bobby Cassidy, and Patrick Cherenfant.
The Highlanders, who play in the Greater Boston League, soared to a 9-2 record to start the season, before losing five straight. But, Somerville, which battled injuries and lineup changes, bounced back nicely to finish the campaign on a high note.
“I like where we are,” Somerville head coach Mark Antonellis said. “We’re definitely on the upswing of things.”
Somerville finished in fourth place in the competitive GBL, where all five teams made the postseason.
Lubin, a forward, led the Highlanders this winter, averaging 17 points per game. Junior guard Rayoni Matos also proved to be a force, averaging 11 points. Roubins Guerrier followed at 10.1.
Two other players who shined were junior Jonathan Santana and freshman Fru Che, particularly in rebounding.
“They’re both doing a great job on the boards,” Antonellis said.
The coach added about Che: “As a freshman, he went above and beyond expectations. At first, it was a learning process, but around the Christmas tournament, he started grabbing more minutes, probably a good 16-20 minutes a game and doing very well.”
As they head into the postseason, the Highlanders know it’s time to turn it up a notch.
The kids are playing hard,” Antonellis said. “Even in the games we lost, we were playing well. The execution has been good.”
The girls’ basketball team also earned a postseason berth. The No. 9 Highlanders (14-6) lost to No. 8 Andover (16-6) on the road, 59-50, in the first round Monday night.
The No. 9 boys’ hockey team, meanwhile, was slated to play No. 8 Danvers in a Division 1 North first round tilt Tuesday at Salem State. The result would have occurred too late by the time this newspaper went to print.