The Chelsea High boys basketball team enjoyed a busy, but productive week, winning three of the four games that the Red Devils played in a seven day period.
The stretch included two non league games which for CHS head coach Jay Seigal represented a bit of a trip to yesteryear for the former Red Devil player and long time coach, as those two contests came against former Greater Boston League rivals Revere and Peabody, both of whom themselves have moved onto the Northeastern Conference.
“These non league games are important for us because they will get us ready for the state tournament,” said Seigal, whose team plays in the Division 4 Commonwealth Conference, but who will play in Division 2 in the state tourney.
Chelsea’s most recent contest this past Tuesday night saw the Red Devils handily dispatch league rival Greater Lowell by a 67-40 score. Chelsea was in command all the way and never was threatened. Cesar Castro led a balanced scoring attack with 17 points. Mark Reddick hit for 14, Joseph Rivera struck for 10, Felix Crespo added nine, and Troy Crosley chipped in with eight.
The Red Devils’ other league game on Friday against Minuteman Regional also was a bit of cakewalk, although matters were close at the half with Chelsea holding a 26-21 advantage.
However, the Red Devils turned up the defensive pressure a notch after the intermission, holding Minuteman to just 12 points over the final 16 minutes of play en route to a comfortable 53-33 triumph. Castro added to his 1000 plus career scoring mark with a 20 point game, followed by Rivera with 12 and Reddick with 10.
The non league tilt at Peabody on Sunday proved to be what Seigal termed “one of our best games of the year” that saw the Red Devils take the measure of the Division 1 Tanners, 67-52.
The Red Devils led at all four of the buzzers, but their slim 14-11 and 29-24 advantages after the first and second periods were an indication that Peabody, which itself was trying to stay in contention to earn a spot in the post season state tourney, would be looking to avenge its loss earlier in the season at Chelsea.
However, Peabody committed a major faux pas near the end of the first half when one of the Tanners flagrantly fouled CHS star Castro as he was going in for a layup near the end of the first half. The rough play served as a rallying cry for the Red Devils after the break and Chelsea came out firing on all cylinders.
By the time the smoke had cleared, the Red Devils had outscored Peabody 25-14 in the third quarter, increasing their margin to 16, 54-38, from where they cruised to the victory.
Castro turned in what Seigal called “an incredible performance” to lead all scorers with 29 points. Crosley also came through with one of his best games of the season, finishing with 16 points on the night.
That brings us to last Wednesday’s game with Revere, Chelsea’s long time Beach City rival. The contest was a rematch of the teams’ earlier battle that saw Revere prevail by one point. At the time, Seigal and company attributed the loss to a letdown after Chelsea had just won the Wakefield Christmas tournament with triumphs over Wakefield and Salem, the latter a team that had defeated Revere.
Indeed, Peabody, whom Chelsea has beaten twice, also has beaten Revere twice. So on paper, the Red Devils seemed like a sure thing to exact some revenge on a Revere squad which had only one other victory coming into the game.
But call it the Curse of the Patriots, or perhaps that Revere simply gets a bit more pumped up against its old rival, or, as Seigal put it afterwards, “Revere seems to match up well against us.”
Or maybe it’s a combination of all of the above.
Whatever the reason, the Red Devils never were able to get ahead of the Patriots, who led 33-30 at the half and then pulled away after the intermission for a 16 point advantage after three quarters.
Chelsea staged a furious comeback bid in the final eight minutes, raining a barrage of threes from well beyond the arc and connecting on six altogether, with freshman Sammy Mojica (11 points) accounting for three treys and Rivera hitting two.
But it proved too little, too late, as Revere held on for the 73-66 triumph to hand the Red Devils only their second defeat of the year.
Seigal and his crew have now passed the three quarters pole of their season and will seek to close out the campaign with four more wins to ensure themselves of an 18-2 final record and a high seed in the D-2 North bracket, which also should bring with it at least two tournament home games.
The Red Devils will play at Northeast Regional on Friday and then travel to Shawsheen on Tuesday. Chelsea will return home next Friday to entertain Whittier.