The Chelsea High basketball team outscored Mystic Valley 17-3 in the final period to pull away for a 50-39 triumph Tuesday evening at the CHS gym.
The contest had been a frustrating one for the Red Devils through the first three periods. Chelsea had been unable to find its scoring touch and trailed at all of the quarter-markers, 16-9, 26-25, and 36-33.
And what was the solution to the Red Devils’ scoring woes in the final eight minutes that allowed Chelsea to pull a 180? In a word, defense.
As is usually the case when a hoop team at any level is having difficulty putting the ball in the basket, an aggressive defense that forces turnovers can create scoring opportunities, and such was the case for Chelsea Tuesday night.
“Our press worked well in the fourth quarter,” said CHS head coach Jay Seigal. “We had been playing inconsistently to that point. But when we applied the press successfully, we kept them bottled up in their end that led to some steals that enabled us to put together a run that changed the complexion of the game.”
Eric Flores, who led Chelsea with 17 points on the night, was the main man for the Devils in their winning surge, scoring 11 in the final eight-minute stretch, including a three-pointer. Oscar Sabillon, who was next on the scoring chart for Chelsea with 14, added four points in the fourth quarter.
Eric Fernandez chipped in six points for the night, followed by Nelson Vega and Victor Corrales with four apiece, and Jorge Ramos and Albie Alicea with two points each.
Last Friday Seigal and his crew trekked to Greater Lowell for a showdown for first place in the Large Division of the Commonwealth Athletic Conference. The hard-fought contest was worthy of a battle between teams who were undefeated in the division (both were 3-0), with the lead see-sawing throughout the contest down to the final minutes.
Chelsea grabbed a 14-11 edge after the first frame, but Gr. Lowell led 30-22 at the half and 45-39 after three.
The final quarter saw the Red Devils climb back on top briefly, only to have Gr. Lowell counter Chelsea’s runs with runs of their own.
The Red Devils were forced to foul down the stretch and GL hit enough of their tosses from the charity stripe (9-of-15 in the final period, compared to just three free throws for Chelsea) to seal the victory by a final score of 64-58.
Sabillon was high scorer for Chelsea with 19 points, despite being hampered by foul trouble that eventually forced Oscar to exit the game when he got hit with his fifth whistle with four minutes to play.
Flores reached double figures with 17 points, as did Corrales with 12.
Other Red Devils who scored were Alicea with six, Ramos with three, and Vega with two.
Chelsea, which stands at 5-5 at the halfway point of the season, faces a difficult stretch of four games on the road beginning tomorrow (Friday) at Greater Lawrence. The Red Devils then will play at Lynn Tech Monday, at Revere Wednesday, and at North Shore Tech next Friday.