NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

Knights defeat Roxbury battle of the national ranking

On Thursday Dec. 8, the NECC Knights defeated Roxbury Community College 87 to 72 in the Sport and Fitness Center on the Haverhill campus.

In this week NJCAA National ranking the Knights were ranked 11th place and Roxbury 12. Both teams were undefeated in conference division play. The difference was the Knights only lost one game — it was in a non-conference game as the Knights were 13-1 in the season while Roxbury 8-0.

“I think it is huge for both teams,” NECC Knights basketball head coach Darren Stratton said before the game “I think you will see the best from both teams because having that one game up in the opponent is so critical coming down the stretch for playoff,” he said. “…Seeding means a lot and I think this is the first time that two national rank opponents from Region 21 are basically this close together squaring off against each other and it might be the first time in a long time that both teams are coming undefeated against each other,” he said.

Before the game I asked Coach Stratton about Kevin Agyemang of their opponent Roxbury, who is averaging 21.0 points per game and Roy Kalu who is averaging20.2 points per game as they are in the top two categories in points per game in Region 21.

“Kevin (Agyemang) is kind of funny, we recruited coming out of high school out of Dracut … he was down to us and Roxbury as his two schools and he ended up choosing to go play with his former coach. Albert Hayle is the former Dracut High (school) coach so he chose to go there. He is a heck of a player, heck of a shooter, we have to do an excellent job on both of those guys to not allow them to get going if Keving (Agyemang) gets done early it’s going to be a long day for us … right now he is shooting over 50 percent behind the thee point line so we can’t let him get going tonight,” Stratton said.

The game officially began at 6:03 p.m. with Roxbury winning the tip off against the Knights.

The Knights started the game on a 9-2 run, they started the game opening up pretty well giving some distance against Roxbury.

Knights vs Roxbury on Dec. 8 in the Sport and Fitness Center Photo by Editor-in-Chief / Sports Editor Jose Rodriguez

Knights vs Roxbury on Dec. 8 in the Sport and Fitness Center

Roxbury fought to make this a one point game as the game was 9 to 8.

Eventually the game was tied at 11. Luis Reynoso of Lawrence who scored 19 points in the win over Roxbury was attacking the glass. He got fouled and was on the line as he made two free throws as the Knights were back in front 13 to 11.

Reynoso extended the Knights lead with a lay up as the game was 15 to 11.

Fast forward the game was 23-18 when Tre Fite of Massillon, Ohio, banged in a three pointer to increase the Knights’ lead.

This started a run for the Knights as the Knights went on 17 to 8 run to end the first half.

The Knights had a 14 point lead when they went into their locker room at the half.

The score was 40 to 26.The Knights had seven fouls while Roxbury had eight.

During the half time warm up Edwin SamMbaka of Paris, France, dunked the ball, which is against the rules. He could have had a technical foul if the referee saw it but they didn’t.

“I forgot the rule, I was hype (laughing), I forgot the rule,” he said.

The second half began. Ten seconds in Reynoso was in the free throw line where he made one of two in.

When the game was 45 to 26 Roxbury connected with a two pointer and a three pointer as they went on a 5-0 run it ended with Reynoso attacking the glass to the rim to make this a 47 to 31 ball game.

The Knights were up by 11, it was 47 to 36 when Fite missed both free throw shots when Roxbury connected with a two pointer and a foul that completed a three points play.

The game was 49-39 after the Knights got two of those points back when Cristian Kinsley of Lawrence got injured.

“Kinsley we will know more tomorrow. I told all of my kids to say a prayer for him, he is the heart and soul in this basketball group and I‘m hoping, I’m keeping my fingers crossed for him. There isn’t been a kid in my program that has ever worked harder and has done more for a basketball player than Cristian Kinsley, that’s bar none,”

Roxbury hit a two pointer.

The Knights came back with Jermeiah Melendez of Lawrence knocking down a three pointer to make this 52 to 41.

Ryan Pacy of Salem, New Hampshire, scored a two pointer on a lay up. Pacy was the highest point scorer for the Knights with 21.

“Yeah, I just had to get my rhythm first half I was a little off but the second half I got my rhythm back,” Pacy said.

Roxbury made this really interesting against the Knights. With six minutes and 37 seconds remaining the Knights’ lead was cut to six as they were up 67 to 61.

The Knights went on a 10 to 4 run to make this 77 to 65.

Things got a little intense with Pacy and one of the Roxbury players as they were nose to nose in the final minute of the game and had to be separated by the referee.

As Pacy got a Class A technical foul with 40.8 remaining and was removed from the game, sent to the locker room by his assistant coach Joe Tardiff who was trying to calm him down.

“It was just all competitiveness,” Pacy said.

“Heated part of the game I guess nothing really serious,” he said.

Nonetheless the Knights went on to defeat Roxbury 87 to 72, handing Roxbury their first loss of the season as the Knights remained undefeated in conference division play.