WORCESTER -- Austin Coene already does a lot to help Tyngsboro win. He scores, he rebounds, and he defends. (Everyone who suits up for coach Mike Crowley MUST defend).
Which explains why 6-foot-1 junior forward Coene recently was voted a co-MVP of the Midland-Wachusett League C Division.
But after he scored 19 of Tyngsboro's 29 first-half points in the Central Mass. Division 3 championship game on Saturday at WPI's Harrington Auditorium, Coene also did some coaching.
The 20-ppg scorer suggested that No. 2 seed Tyngsboro, which trailed No. 9 Auburn 33-29, should go to a 3-2 zone rather than stick with coach Crowley's beloved man-to-man defense.
"I thought we could go to a zone, slow them down, and not let them get so many open shots," said Coene.
"I had to swallow my pride," said a smiling Crowley -- smiling because after Coene's Xs-and-Os input, his Tigers outscored Auburn 15-1 in the third quarter to take charge of what turned into a 55-43 victory for Tyngsboro's first-ever sectional boys' basketball title, Eastern or Central Mass.
Tyngsboro (21-2), playing in its third season in Central Mass., moves on to a state semifinal versus Sabis on Wednesday at 4 p.m. at the MassMutual Center in Springfield.
"It feels amazing. It's good to bring (a boys' sectional title) to Tyngsboro, finally," said Coene, who has started since he was a freshman. "Everything has been working out. I hope we can keep it going (for two more games)."
It is getting difficult keeping track of which basketball program former Lowell High captain Crowley is guiding on a deep tournament run. He coached the Lowell High girls to a Division 1 state semifinal in 2006 (losing in OT to Braintree) and the Tyngsboro girls to a Division 2 state final two years ago in his first season as their coach (losing to undefeated Reading). This is Crowley's first season as the Tyngsboro boys' coach. His dad, Mike Sr., Lowell High's head coach from 1968 to 1975, was in the gym on Saturday to cheer on the son who has more than 300 coaching victories over 19 seasons.
Coene recalled Crowley assessment of Tyngsboro's defense after watching the boys in a summer league game: "Mediocre."
"Coach Crowley is all about defense," said Coene, smiling. "We're a really good defensive team."
Coene finished with 24 points, and sophomore guard Drew Hurynowicz added 17 points. As for the defense, Tyngsboro actually went on a 20-0 run over the final minute of the first half and opening six minutes of the second half, turning a 33-24 deficit into a 44-33 lead.
Coene (19 points) and Hurynowicz (10) accounted for all of Tyngsboro's 29 first-half points. Junior guard David Walker got into the act in the second half, scoring 7 points, while senior guard Ben Foley added 5 points. "We're at our best when we have five guys scoring," said Crowley.
The first Tyngsboro points by someone besides Coene or Hurynowicz were two free throws by Foley to tie the score, 33-33, followed by a Walker bucket inside that gave the Tigers the lead for good.
On to Springfield.
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