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    By Sam Richardson

     The Chieftains bounced back from a previous tough loss with a 65 to 43 win over the Winthrop Vikings. 

      Masco came out victorious in this battle, as everything started clicking for the Chieftains as the game progressed. After a tight first quarter, the Chieftains didn’t look back, taking control of the final three quarters. Their defense in the second quarter was outstanding, allowing just four points. Masco showed clear discipline and improvements from their game against Beverly, especially defensively with a suffocating press and in the half-court set.

       “ We really wanted to turn up the pressure so we knew we needed to pick up full court right from the start, get our legs going, and that really was the key for us,” said assistant coach Ben Davis. “I think multiple people contributed…Jamason (Vella) had a big game and Devin (O’Brien) had a game, but we really played a well-complemented game and defended really well. Allowing only four points in the second quarter only happens when you have five players playing great team defense. Jack Fielder on the defensive side really set the tone for us, taking charges and really digging in, so that was great.” 

      Many players had stellar performances, as ten out of Masco’s twelve players saw excellent court time, but the sophomore big man Vella and junior shooter O’Brien were able to heat up on offense, combining for 35 points. Vella had 19 points and was the anchor that propelled Masco to dominate the glass. 

    “ We played and executed pretty well, we played good defense, and we went into that game feeling pretty confident I feel. We definitely worked hard at practice, putting in hard work and going hard every day just keeps getting better,” said Vella. 

      Vella had a lot of success in the paint, as that’s where a majority of his points came from. 

    “There wasn’t a lot of help defense [from Winthrop] and I started off early by passing the ball and then I ended up getting open looks in the paint from being unselfish,” he said.

      The most electrifying play of the night and one of the highlights of the Chieftains’ season was when junior big man Hunter Rossi intercepted a pass near Winthrop's basket late in the fourth quarter. Rossi surged right down the lane and without hesitation punched it with a massive one-hand slam, causing the bench and coaching staff to erupt.

      “I wasn’t really expecting the dunk, it was late in the game and I shouldn’t have gone up with it, but I saw the opportunity and had to give it a try,” said Rossi. 

      That was Rossi’s first career in-game dunk, and he hopes there are more to come. 

      Throughout the season, it is evident how players are starting to connect with each other and have faith in one another. With three new transfers and many new faces on the varsity team, no one was sure how long it would take this team to start falling into place. The skill is undeniable, but the coaches were really looking for guys with heartland pride. Luckily, now it seems the program is full of them and players are starting to comprehend the Masconomet basketball culture. 

    “A lot of the boys just love playing together, and we are making that a part of our culture and I think it’s super important for winning teams to have good chemistry and want to go to battle for each other,” said Davis. 

      With the win over Winthrop, the Chieftains are now an impressive 8-6, but do have some challenging games ahead as they try to cement themselves in this year’s playoff season with some strong wins down the stretch.