Although Swampscott lost on Wednesday to Lynn English, the bigger loss on Wednesday was apparent on Friday night against Lynn Classical – Chad Nelson's injury.
Nelson, who got hurt in the second quarter against the Bulldogs, sat out against Lynn Classical and will continue to rest until he is fully examined by doctors on Tuesday, according to Swampscott coach Dave Born. Nelson hurt his knee after diving for a loose ball.
On Friday night, Nelson’s absence was potentially the difference maker.
The Rams, who were able to take advantage of the gaps Nelson left behind, overwhelmed the Big Blue from the start. Led by 13 points from Kyle Doucette, Lynn Classical defeated the Big Blue, 73-48.
Nelson, the centerpiece in Swampscott’s defense, can usually defend incoming guards while boxing out his guarding assignment, usually a big forward. On Friday, the Rams had no problems attacking the rim while attaining several offensive rebounds. Lynn Classical outrebounded Swampscott 49-25.
On offense, Nelson can spread the floor with his versatility as a swingman in a big man’s body. He can also clear the paint with his post moves, which usually force an extra defender to leave his assignment to cover Nelson. In return, that allows a Swampscott player to cut to the basket.
That didn’t happen against the Rams. The Big Blue had difficulty converting on its shots in the paint, as whoever was shooting was draped in coverage. It really wasn’t until Peter Wright, another Swampscott forward, took over the center position in the fourth quarter that the Blue was able to convert in the paint. Wright had 12 points, with eight of them coming in the final quarter.
Lynn Classical began the game on a 9-0 run, had a 13-0 run that started with 2:55 remaining in the first quarter and ended with 5:01 left in the second quarter, and held a 40-20 lead at halftime. Classical would outscore Swampscott in all quarters, while all Rams, except for two, would end with at least one successful field goal.
Big Blue sophomore Joey Ragusa scored 15 points, while junior Mark Variste found a rhythm in three-point land, making four three-pointers and ending with 14 points.
Swampscott had one big stride on Friday night, and it wasn’t apparent unless you watched Wednesday night’s game. The Big Blue did successfully move on from its confidence-crushing loss against Lynn English, and played with strong confidence throughout Friday night.
Even when everything was lost against Lynn Classical, Swampscott was playing as hard as ever. You couldn’t have said that on Wednesday. Soon, the Big Blue will only be playing for pride (unless if Swampscott’s season takes a miraculous turn). On Friday night, Big Blue pride was in full swing in the closing minutes.
The Big Blue’s rough stretch of opponents continues on Tuesday, when Swampscott (2-7) travels to Beverly (4-3).