Both teams brought their game for Tuesday's Cape Ann League boys basketball match-up of the Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School Generals and the Hornets.
The reigning CAL (Division 2) champion Generals clinched another league title by beating the Hornets, 60-51, at North Reading High School. But there was a big hole in the Generals' lineup without senior Pat Hendrickson, whose season ended Monday night with a torn ACL.
Hendrickson suffered a knee injury during Monday's overtime win over Masconomet, and will have an MRI on Thursday to determine the extent of the damage, but the player said his doctor is "85 percent sure" the ACL was torn.
Meanwhile, the Hornets were looking to erase the memory of a early in the season to the Generals, a game in which Hendrickson scored 19 points.
Without him, the Generals were facing a "dog fight," Generals coach Doug Hoak said.
"I told the kids tonight was going to be a character statement, because of all the emotions of last night," Hoak said.
The Hornets (8-10) had to contain Generals point guard Stephen Tam (18 points), a duty that fell to Hornets captain Nick Rosano (nine points).
Tam got hot in the second quarter, stroking three consecutive 3-pointers to push the Generals to a nine point lead and a halftime edge of 31-25.
"Tam absolutely killed us. He's the real deal," Hornets coach Joe Casey said.
The Hornets got 15 points from center Kyle Lentini and 11 from sophomore Carl Lipani to keep it a game in the fourth quarter.
That was when the Generals' greater experience showed, as Jake Prince (14 points) and Jake Lindland (10 points) were joined by Colin Kenny (six) and Chris Hamilton (12) in scoring fourth-quarter baskets to put the game away.
The Hornets will need to win their final two games of the season against to qualify for the tournament. That quest begins tonight against Lynnfield at 8 p.m. at North Reading High School, followed by a Monday contest at Saugus at 7 p.m.