Wednesday, March 8, 2017

No. 1 Cambridge Survives Upset-Minded Lowell

By Karl Capen (@Capen316)

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. - Even after a monster night from Lowell junior Alex Rivera, top-seeded Cambridge still managed to find a way to win Tuesday night's Division 1 North semifinal, which begs the questions: Can anybody beat the Falcons this year?

Rivera poured in 37 points, but Cambridge seniors Jakigh Dottin (21 points) and Dimon Carrigan (12 points, 17 rebounds) dominated the paint all night to help defeat Lowell, 70-63, Tuesday night in North Andover.

This victory punches the Falcons’ ticket to a third-consecutive Division 1 North final on Saturday. Cambridge will face the winner of the Central Catholic-Everett semifinal.

Cambridge (21-0) came out firing on all cylinders in the first quarter, pushing the tempo on both ends of the court and staying in the face of Rivera, along with freshman Carlos Nunez to keep them off the board.

The Falcons held a 22-7 advantage at the end of quarter and looked like they might cruise to the win.

But Rivera began to heat up for Lowell (17-6), and it seemed like he wasn’t going to let his team go down easy.

“[Rivera] got hot and made some shots. I think once they got into kind of a little bit of a rhythm we kind of let them back into the game,” said Cambridge coach Lance Dottin.

Rivera and Nunez (14 points) were able to carry the Red Raiders back into the game, hitting some tough, unbalanced shots from beyond the arc, often with a defender’s hand right in their face.

Cambridge also got away from its up-tempo offense and from delivering the ball down low. This allowed Lowell to outscore the Falcons 15-8 in the second quarter. The Raiders trailed by only eight entering intermission.

“Two areas we really thought we could hurt [Lowell] in was the transition and inside,” said Lane Dottin.

“We sort of got away from going inside, and the transition worked for us early. We should have stuck with it.”

Lowell continued to chip away at the deficit. A Rivera three over the outstretched arm of 6-foot-5 Daniel Rymer not only put him over 1,000 points for his career, but brought the Red Raiders even closer, 43-36, with 2:28 left in the third.

The Falcons were able to get the lead back to double-digits to begin the final quarter, but again, Rivera was sensational.

The 6-foot guard drove inside the paint and connected a tough layup with the 6-foot-8 Carrigan draped all over him to make it a four-point deficit with under two minutes to play.

Cambridge answered with a wide-open layup from junior Aidan Keefer off from a nice feed from Jakigh Dottin and, after one free throw for Cambridge on the next possession, the lead was back to 7.

That was until Rivera connected on another contested three-pointer with 48 seconds to play. But, unfortunately for Lowell, outside of Rivera and Nunez, they had no answer offensively. And with their lack of size, they had no answer on the boards against Cambridge either.

Two offensive rebounds from Jakigh Dottin and easy put back in the closing seconds sealed the deal and sent the fans heading for the exit.

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