Posted by: Scott

Another season gone by and sadly Freshman turn Sophmores, Sophmores to Juniors, Juniors to Seniors, and many seniors have played there last organized basketball game.   Hopefully for those seniors, all the life lessons that basketball can teach stay with them for life including the values of team work and hard work.   For those who get a year older, hopefully they have learned from the past year and will come back a better and smarter player ready to help their respective teams suceed at a higher level.

To the Central players, it was a good season.  Again, for the 4th time in 5 years Central made to the North Sectional Championship game with exciting wins over Everett and undefeated Lexington.  Again, Central showed it offers the best basketball year in and year out in Eastern Massachusetts.   The last game against Cambridge was a tough one, and one everybody thought they should have won.  But that is basketball and that is life, on any given day, one can have a bad day, and yes one can lose.   Fortunately, almost everybody returns for what should be an exciting next year.   Adrian will return for his senior season as one of the top players in the state, Billy Marsden returns as a junior after an exciting and most productive last half of his Sophomore season where he led the team in scoring and propelled Central to big wins against Saint John's Prep and undefeated Lexington.  Carson Desrosiers returns as a sophomore after limited minutes in his Freshman year, but with 20 big minutes in the final game of the season.   It is predicted here that he will come back as a force next year and will leave Central Catholic one day as a major division 1 basketbal player.  Add to that, the athletic Tim Wheeler, the versatile Rory Blinn, and point guard Wilfredo Pagan all return for Central.

Ryan O'Connell and Saint John's Prep underachieved this year finishing the regular season at 10-10 and then lost in the first round of the tournament.    But if anybody ever doubted it, everyone now knows Ryan is for real and is the best scorer in Eastern Massachusetts.  He makes shots that have no business going in, but yet they do.  At first one thinks he lucky, but after watching him for a while, one realizes there is no luck involved.  This kid can score.  Freshman Brendan Felder returns with Ryan as a quick and agressive point guard who can pressure the basketball and will be an excellent distributor for the Prep next year.   We expect big things, but we'll have to see.

Methuen had a disappointing season, as I thought they would be a little better.  However, Romeo is back as a senior next year and is one of my favorite players.  He is one of the few players around that can do it all.  He can get in the paint off the dribble, he can hit the pull up, he is excellent coming of a pick, and he can make the three.  Not to mention he can rebound and fill the lanes.   He's good enough to carry Methuen.  We expect it next year.

Woburn had a good season at 15-5 and watched Hanell Velez develop into one of the top players in the Middlesex League as he averaged 19 points per game.  The Woburn coaching staff made a great move in moving Hanell to the point position midway through the season.  Although Hanell wasn't quite ready for the point position, it was a wise move by the Woburn coaching staff.  it will pay off big for them next year, and it shows that they care about Hanell.  If Hanell makes it at the college level, it will have to be as a point guard.   Prediction is that Woburn is the Division II North Sectional Champion next year.

Reading had a dissapointing season not making the tournament.  However they have Evan Smotryz, a Sophmore who may have the biggest upside of all players in Eastern Massachusetts.   The 6'7" Sophmore can shoot the ball, has some handle, and can fill the lanes.   I expect huge things from him by next year.  







Posted by: Scott

Adrian Gonzalez played one of his best games of the season last night propelling Central to the North Sectional Finals this Saturday.  He played all 32 minutes and was invloved in every part of the game.  Adrian might best be defined by his game ending rebound, where he knew he would get fouled, but yet chose to pass the ball off to his teammate Billy Marsden (18 points).  It didn't matter, the game was over.   Adrian could have padded his stats, putting the last two points of the game next to his name in the book.  Many players I have coached in the past would have done just that, kept the ball an taken the extra two points.  If you know Adrian, it was his way of saying to Billy, you made the big three kid, go finish it up. 

Adrian is a winner.  He does what ever it takes to make his team win.  He did it last year when Central was making the same run to the State Finals and he continues this year.  Last night he set the tone early with a huge dunk (division 1 type) over someone in the lane.  On several occassions he rebounded above the crowd, and a few times he had big time blocks, one of them bringing the crowd to their feet.  And every time down the court he was in the right defensive position making the middle an uncomfortable place for Lexington players.   Not to mention, he made two big kick outs off double teams for Central threes.  Adrian is what I would define as a complete basketball player.

Some may get confused that he's not that good because he didn't score 30 points.   But not here, he had more than 30 (although they're not all in the book), many coming off stopping the other team from scoring what appeared to be easy baskets before they met Adrian at the rim, or the many times he totally altered Lexington shots changing an apparent basket into a miss.   And finally, giving his teammates easy opportunities after he had been doubled team. 

Adrian surely got plenty of help against Lexington.  Billy Marsden was exceptional last night, and he hit the biggest three of his career with 2 seconds left on the shot clock, 40 seconds left to play in the game, and the score tied.   He then followed with a big rebound done the other end, and was quickly fouled, making 2 free throws, and then finished the game at the line scoring the last seven points of the game.   Billy's clutch.  Those of us who know him, were confident that the shot was going in before it left his hand.  Jr. DeLahoz also has a great second half scoring 10 points in a five minute stretch to lead the Central come back.   Tim Wheeler did a great job on the Lexington's best player never allowing him to get into any type of rythm. 

The headlines in the paper won't read that Adrian is the reason Central beat Lexington.  But when it was all said in done, Adrian made it all this possible for his teammates.  He is unselfish, sometimes to a fault.  So, in the final analysis,  put this win in Adrian's colume.   He played all 32 minutes and proved he's a complete player and a great teammate. 

Posted by: Scott

Below are the teams that qualified for the Division 1 & 2 North Tournament.  These teams either qualified by having a 500 record or better or by finishing first or second in their league (Methuen, Acton, and Tewksbury).

LEXINGTON                        20 - 0 CONCORD CARLISLE17 - 3
EAST BOSTON                   17 -2 BELMONT14 - 4
BRIGHTON                           15 - 2 N. ANDOVER15 - 5
BOSTON LATIN                  16 -4 WOBURN15 - 5
EVERETT                             14 -5 CHELSEA15 - 5
LAWRENCE                         15 - 5 MARBLEHEAD14 - 6
CENTRAL CATHOLIC       15 - 5 MASCO13 - 6
LYNN ENGLISH                 14 - 5 LATIN ACADEMY13 - 7
SALEM                                  14 - 5 ARLINGTON12 - 7
SOMERVILLE                      14 - 5 BEVERLY12 - 8
LOWELL                               14 -6 LINCOLN SUDBURY12 - 8
ANDOVER                            14 - 6 WESTFORD10 -10
LYNN CLASSICAL             13 - 6 TEWKSBURY6 -13
CAMBRIDGE                       12 - 7   
CHELMSFORD                   12 - 8   
ST. JOHNS                           10 - 9   
PEABODY                            9 - 9   
METHUEN                            9 - 11   
ACTON                                  8 - 10   

Posted by: Scott
Saint John's junior Ryan O'Connell along with senior Chris Hurley of B.C. High were named Co-MVP of the Catholic Conference.  Ryan hs also finished the regular high school season as the leading scorer in Eastern Massachusetts averaging over 28 points per game in his 20 games this season.  Senior Nick Zolotas from the Prep was also named to the All-Conference team.  Congratualtions to both of them for their outstanding seasons.
Posted by: Scott

Cental Catholic Sophomore Billy Marsden scored 32 points in a Central Catholic's 77-74 win over Saint John's Prep Wednesday evening.  Billy hit hit six three pointers and single handedly brought Central back from an 11 point deficit with six minutes to play.  In his best game by far as a Central Catholic player, Billy looked confident and determined to get the ball on each Central possession in the last six minutes.  Billy proved what we all knew, he can put points on the board, and fast.   Junior Wilfredo Pagan was also on top of his game chipping in with 13 points and 6 assists.  Wilfredo also had several big steals, one which ended with him making a layup from his knees.   Central won this one without the help of Adrian Gonzalez who was in early foul trouble, three in the first five minutes, and then later twisted his ankle.  To say the least, it  wasn't Adriane's night as was ineffective and finished with just two points.  But, don't forget, Adrian is Central's ticket to the North Bank Garden.  He is that good and he must play at the top of his game if Central is to make a run in the tournament.  And let's not forget, it was Adriane who carried Central last year in the tournament.  Tim Wheeler also played well for Central controlling the boards and chipping in five points, and need I say again, in minimal minutes 6' 8" Freshman Carson Desrosiers showed us he's going to be the real deal as he looked smooth, confident, and able to score as he added two big baskets and finished with 4 points.

On the other side of the ball,  Saint John's Prep let this one slip away.  They controlled most of the game as Junior Ryan O'Connell proved that he is the best scorer in Eastern Mass has he scored many different ways compiling 31 points from the three point line, pull up jumpers, two tip-ins, a shot behind the basket off an inbound,  and some free throws.   Senior Nick Zolotas  of Saint John's was also spectacular and was the most complete player on the court last night.  He had 23 quiet points, scoring from well beyond on NBA range three different times, he had three or four different hard drives to the basket, he made a couple of big time passes, a few steals, and took a hugh charge before fouling out in the last three minutes.  Freshman Brendan Felder was also impressive recording several steals, 4 points,  and several big passes throughout the course of the game.   Brendan was clearly a difference maker for Saint John's as he was the best athlete in the gym and used his speed to continuously get  into the paint and cause havoc for Central. 

On the whole, one of the better basketball games I've seen this year and one that all who participated should be proud of.  If your a Mass Rival's fan, you should be pretty excited about last night.  Most of all, hooray for Billy Marsden. This was a win for you.

Box Score:

Central:  Marsden - 32, Pagan -13, Morales- 13, Wheeler - 5, DeLaHoz - 4, Zenga -5, Desrosiers - 4, Gonzalez - 2

St. John's:  O'Connell - 31, Zolotas - 23, Cabrera - 12, Felder - 4, Keohan - 3, Rogers - 1

Posted by: Scott
            High School Hoops
North Andover15 - 3
Central Catholic15 - 5
Woburn15 - 6
Georgetown11 - 6
Leominster11 - 5
Methuen9 - 11
Saint John's Prep10 - 10
Haverhill8 - 12


Leading Scorers

NameTeamGradeGamesTotal Pts.Average
Ryan O'ConnellSt. John's 112056228.1
Hanell VelezWoburn102140319.2
Tyler StrangeLeominster91629118.2
Adrian GonzalezCentral111933017.4
Romeo DiazMethuen111928715.1
Luis RamosLeominster101622714.2
Sean McManusN. Andover111820811.6
Edwin NorgaisseHaverhill102022411.2
Billy MarsdenCentral10201658.3
Tim WheelerCentral10201447.2
Posted by: Scott

Ryan O'Connell scored 27 points to lead Saint John's Prep in a blow out of Beverly last night in the Finals of the North Shore Invitational tournament in front of  1500 fans at Danvers High School.   The win moved Saint John's record to 10 -9 and guaranteed them a spot in the Division 1 State Tournament.  Ryan was also named the MVP in the tournament scoring 34 and 27 points in the two Saint John's Victories. 

Saint John's  74 - Beverly 47

Ryan O'Connell (Saint John's) - 27

Posted by: Scott

Monday's Game

Central Catholic 75 - Biship Hendrikson(RI) - 56

Posted by: Scott

Sophomore Hanell Velez was named to the Middlesex League All-Conference Team (10 members).   I was there today to watch him play in the league All-Star game.   He's good.  Congrats Hanell.

Junior Ryan O'Connell solified his place as the best scorer in Eastern Massachusetts by posting 34 points against Bishop Fenwick on Saturday Evening.  Ryan increased his average to an even 28 points per game with the 34 point performance.  A win tomorrow night (I'll be there) against Beverly (8:00 at Danvers High School) will put Saint John's in the tournament and lock Ryan in as an All-Scholastic selection.  I think he gets it even if they lose.  What a year?

Junior Adrian Gonzalez played spectacular for Central Catholic Friday Evening racking up a tipple double with 23 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 blocks in a 63 - 48 win against Worcester North.  Believe it or not, I never got one in my career.  If Adrian plays like this, Central will be on its way back to the Bank North Garden.  That a way, Adrian.

8th grader Jayme Spears is in the News posting 21 points for Georgetown in a come from behind Victory over North Reading.  Not bad for an eight grader.  See related article posted on this Web Site. 

Freshman Tyler Strange is breaking all kinds of records for Leominster this year including threes in a game and assists.  Add to that, last week he scored in the 30's in two consecutive games. 

Believe it or not, Mass Rivals tryouts for 9th and 10th graders begin this weekend at UMass Lowell.   See for more information.

Scott is back from Sweeden and is currently playing in the A.B.A.  He will be in New York Monday evening for a game.  He said he will be posting on the Web Site Tuesday or Wednesday. 

Posted by: Scott

Young Gun: Spears growing up fast for Royals


Posting Up , By Bob Albright
Daily News of Newburyport

- How did you spend your afternoons after school when you were in eighth grade? It's an open question that comes with hundreds, if not thousands, of possible responses ranging from video games to class projects.

Running the point on your high school's basketball team? Well, that's one that usually doesn't pop up.

Welcome to the world of Jamie Spears. A diminutive eighth grader who looks every bit his age in the Georgetown Royals team picture, but who looks like a grizzled, all-league veteran the minute he puts ball to the hardwood.

Perhaps the worst kept secret in the CAL, the JV call-up saw his first meaningful minutes in Georgetown's momentous tournament-clinching win over North Reading and hasn't slowed down since, displaying the kind of innate talent which helped him guide the Royals' JV squad to a 10-0 start.

"We had been waiting for the right time to bring him up," said Royals coach Mike Rowinski of the student from Haverhill. "Now that he's here we're going to ride him right into the tourney."

Spears had eight points against the Hornets and last week against Rockport exploded for 21 points to lead the Royals back from a 13-point deficit for the win.

"There was no question that he was the best player on the floor that night," said Rowinski of the 5-foot-3 point guard. "Yes, he's just an eighth grader, but basketball-wise, he's probably got more experience and knowledge than anyone on our team except maybe Corey Wade."

Spears' inherent court savvy is understandable. After all his grandfather and the Royals' JV coach is former top referee Barry Spears Sr. and he's the nephew of former Central Catholic and Merrimack College star Barry Spears Jr.

The big question that has to be asked is whether or not Rowinski will be able to keep a talent like Spears in the cozy confines of the Georgetown gym and away from the comparatively spacious hardwood s in Haverhill, Danvers (St. John's Prep) and Lawrence (Central Catholic) to name just a few.

"We'll see, but I really think it has been a good fit here for Jamie and if you watch our games and see how excited the bench gets when he's in there you can really see how they have embraced him," said Rowinski. "I really think this is the place for him and it's a good fit."

One of the bigger dividends of Spears' emergence is that it has been given Rowinski the flexibility to give his starting point guard Brandon Wade a much needed rest here and there.

"That's been the best part of it," said the coach. "I don't think there is a better defensive player in the league than Brandon and we always put him on the top player from the other team and because of that he has gotten in some foul trouble. Having Jamie here we've been able to give him a little rest and save him."

It will be interesting to see just how far the Royals go in the Division 4 tourney. Assuming they complete the sweep of Maimonides tonight, who they beat 56-34 the first time, they should get a home game with a mark of 13-7. And with scoring options like Corey Wade, the slashing Tim Holland, Spears and Tim Lynch down low they could make some noise. Getting on the other side of the bracket from Ipswich and A ustin Prep, of course, wouldn't hurt things either.