The stage was set for the boys' basketball team to get its ninth win of the season and keep its hopes of a postseason berth alive, but the Lynnfield Pioneers had other plans when they came into the Hornets' gym on Thursday night, handing their opponent an upset 60-56 loss.
The Pioneers (7-11) already knew they lost their chance for a spot in the MIAA state tournament, making the game against North Reading a last hurrah for the 2010-11 squad.
Lynnfield went out with a bang, locking in a two-game winning streak to close out the season, including the upset victory during North Reading's senior recognition night, and thwarting the Hornets' hopes of tournament play in the process.
The Hornets (8-11) did not go out with out a valiant fight, and despite being down by 11 points at the half, they came out with intensity in the third quarter. Although the Pioneers locked down four quick points to open the half, North Reading then went on a 15-0 scoring spree from there.
"They didn’t go on a run before that all game and that’s what they do," said Lynnfield coach Scott Mackenzie. "They go on these runs, and that was the first time we saw it, so we burned three time outs. We just talked about body language. That’s been our biggest issue all season, is guys believing that we can win."
Lynnfield was able to halt the rally before the third quarter came to a close, but it was North Reading's Daniel Fitzgerald who sank a basket at the buzzer to cut the scoring gap to just three points as the final eight minutes went up on the clock.
It didn't take long into the fourth quarter for the Hornets to cut the lead to a single point, but unfortunately that would be as close as they would come to taking the lead.
Lynnfield managed to get the lead back up to seven as time started running out, but Hornet co-captain Nick Rosano hit two back-to-back 3-pointers from well beyond the arc to get his team back within two with just 9 seconds left.
Two Pioneer free throws made it a two-possession game, and time — and the season — ran out for the Hornets just moments later as Lynnfield went home with the 60-56 victory.
Despite the loss, Rosano was the game's scoring leader with 21 points. North Reading's Kyle Lentini also played well, with 13 points on the night, followed by Carl Lipani and David Giannattasio with nine each.
Lynnfield's sophomores stepped up big in the contest, with Steve Carangelo registering 17 points in the Pioneer victory and Pat Kearny with another 15.
Next up, the Hornets will look to end their season on a high note Monday on the road against Saugus at 7 p.m.