The Chelsea High basketball team clinched an outright Commonwealth Conference championship with a 77-52 victory over Whittier Tech Friday evening. The title is the Red Devils’ first CAC crown since 1999.
Chelsea came into the contest with Whittier two games ahead of Lynn Tech in the standings and with just two games left on their league schedule. Thus, the Red Dzvils needed one more win in the final two games to become the undisputed kings of the CAC.
The Red and Black left little doubt that they were intent on taking care of business Friday, as they mauled Whittier from the opening tap, jumping out to a 26-4 lead at the end of the first period. With Chelsea holding a 47-23 bulge the intermission, the Red Devils and their fans knew that a championship victory party was just 16 minutes away.
The title clinching performance was especially fitting on Senior Night at which the seniors, Cesar Castro, Mark Reddick, Will Hernandez, Joe Ruiz, and Craig Szalkowski, and their parents were honored for their contributions to the CHS basketball program.
Castro led the way in the scoring department with 27 points, followed by Reddick with 15 and Troy Crosley with 11.
With the CAC crown already in hand, individual accolades were waiting to be bestowed upon Red Devils at the league meeting. Castro was named the league’s Most Valuable Player, a vote that surprised no one given the outstanding season turned in by the senior guard, who established himself as one of the top players on the North Shore and one of all time great basketball performers in CHS history.
Teammates Reddick and Felix Crespo were named CAC all stars.
Chelsea concluded its regular season Tuesday night at Greater Lawrence, a team which has had its ups and downs this season. Although the Red Devils easily handled GL in their first meeting earlier in the season, the home team came out on fire Tuesday night.
The contest was a hard fought battle all the way, with both teams punching and counterpunching throughout. Chelsea led 16-15 after one period and GL held a two point edge at the half.
The second half saw both teams make runs and move out to leads of eight points or so, only to have the other respond in kind to keep it close.
The game came down to the final minute, with Eli Ortiz sinking a basket for Chelsea with about 20 seconds to go to knot matters at 64-64. However, Greater Lawrence hit the game winner with three ticks left on the clock to earn a 66-64 triumph.
Castro led the Devils with 25 points and Ortiz hit for 16.
CHS coach Jay Seigal and crew, who finished with a sterling 17-3 record (13-1 in the CAC), now will await the MIAA announcement of the state tourney seedings and pairings which are due out on Friday, February 19.
Chelsea, which will be playing in the Division 2 North Sectional, is assured of a home game in the opening round, and perhaps more. The Red Devils will be scrimmaging at least once, against Brookline next week, as they prepare for their Journey to the Tourney.