LHS Opens with Bang
LOWELL -- If Tuesday night’s season opener was any indication, the Lowell High boys basketball team will be a force to be reckoned with this winter.
The experienced and talented Red Raiders made life miserable for Haverhill at the Riddick Fieldhouse with suffocating defensive pressure, and rolled to a dominant 64-40 victory to begin the 2018-19 campaign.
Lowell held the Hillies to just 14 points in the first half and led 51-26 after three quarters, allowing head coach Bob Michalczyk to rest his starters in the fourth quarter.
After advancing to the Division 1 North semifinals last March, the Red Raiders entered the season widely regarded as one of the premier teams in Eastern Mass. They did nothing to weaken that sentiment on Tuesday night.
“Defensively, I thought we were terrific,” said Michalczyk. “We rebounded the ball really well, and I don’t think we could even make a layup to save our life. They had 14 points at the half, so I’d say that’s pretty darn good, isn’t it?”
Junior guard Nate Siow led Lowell with 18 points, 12 of which came in the third quarter when LHS blew the game wide open. Siow was a menace at the top of Lowell’s 1-2-2 full-court press as Haverhill was plagued by countless turnovers.
“It was a good first game. We’re still getting used to some of the new guys who got bumped up from JV,” said Siow. “I picked up two quick fouls in the first half, so in the second half I wanted to come out hard and get my team in position to pick up the win. Once we get that press going and everybody is moving around, that’s what gets us easy fastbreaks.”
Senior forward Deven Okowuga had 14 points, including four 3-pointers, and 10 rebounds for Lowell. Okowuga buried a triple from the corner just before the buzzer at the end of the third quarter to make it 51-26. Junior guard Carlos Nunez had 13 points and went 7-for-7 from the line.
Haverhill was led by sophomore Jeremyah Phillips’ 16 points.
Lowell flexed its muscles right off the bat, running out to a 9-0 lead to start the game. Haverhill, which failed to connect on a single 3-pointer, didn’t have enough firepower to mount any legitimate comeback. Due to the Red Raiders’ defense, the Hillies rarely had a comfortable looking possession.
For good measure, Lowell opened the second half with an 8-0 run to extend the advantage to 37-14. Siow took over, thriving in the open court after turnovers. He made a spin move in the lane to beat two defenders and finished with his left hand to bring out oohs and aahs from the Lowell crowd.
Ten different Lowell players scored in the game.
“We got a lot of depth this year, so I’m trying to figure out rotations and see what combos play well together,” said Michalczyk. “The guys who were in at the end were still guys who played during the course of the game. Somebody’s got to be in at the end.”
Lowell will be at St. John’s Prep on Friday night.
Follow Matt Langone on Twitter @MattLangone