The Chelsea High basketball team raised its record to a lofty 7-1 with a pair of wins this week over former GBL rival Peabody and Commonwealth Conference foe Minuteman Regional.
The contest on Monday with Division 1 Peabody, which now plays in the Northeastern Conference, was a hard fought contest all the way, with the Red Devils holding a slim 40-36 advantage after three periods.
However, Coach Jay Seigal’s team dug deep in the final frame to come away with a 53-44 triumph. Cesar Castro led the Devils in the scoring department with 18 points. Junior forward Joseph Rivera came through with a superlative all around performance, hitting for 12 points and also playing tough defense and coming up big in the rebounding department.
Junior guard Felix Crespo also turned in a solid two way effort with seven points and leading a pressure Chelsea defense.
The game with Minuteman Tuesday was a relative cakewalk for Seigal and crew, as they jumped out to a 19-5 lead at the first quarter mark and never looked back. A 53-30 lead after three frames allowed Seigal to utilize all of his players en route to a 71-33 triumph.
Rivera paced Chelsea with 18 points, while Castro tingled the twine for 15.
However, the real drama for Seigal’s charges came last week in which the Red Devils learned the truth of the adage (paraphrased here for basketball relevance), "Live by the last second shot, die by the last second shot."
In the championship game of the Wakefield Christmas Tournament last Tuesday, the Red Devils took on the host team. The contest proved a battle worthy of a title bout, with both squads giving as good as they got. However, Chelsea had more at the end, as they put on a clutch 10-0 run to overcome a 50-42 deficit with three minutes to go and then relied on 6-7 center Mark Reddick to make a nice move in the pivot for the game winning bucket with eight seconds to play.
Castro pumped in 20 points, while Reddick finished with 12.
The following night, the Red Devils took on another former long time rival, Revere, and this time it was Chelsea’s turn to feel the sting of a clock beating basket. The Red Devils held a 48-47 advantage with 15 seconds to play, but missed the front end of a one and one, giving Revere a window of opportunity.
The Red Devils applied full court pressure on the ensuing inbound pass (Revere had called a timeout after grabbing the rebound on the missed free throw), but the Patriots worked the ball down court and broke through for a lay-in with 3.5 ticks remaining on the clock.
"We were emotionally drained after the Wakefield win the night before and the win over Salem on Sunday," noted Seigal. "But give Revere credit. They played very well and deserved the victory."
So all in all, the five game, 10 day stretch proved very productive for Seigal and crew, as they defeated two D-1 teams (Salem and Peabody); edged a good D-2 team (Wakefield); and then dispatched a Commonwealth Conference opponent.
"We scheduled these stronger teams because they are the caliber of team we’ll face in the state tournament," said Seigal, whose squad now is just three wins away from qualifying for a state tourney spot.
The Red Devils have another busy stretch ahead with four games in eight days starting this Friday at Whittier Tech. On Tuesday Chelsea will host Greater Lawrence and next Thursday they will travel to Lynn Tech for a contest that essentially will decide the Commonwealth Conference title. The Devils then will return home next Friday.