Recap: St. Seb's 3, Catholic Memorial 0

December, 24, 2014
Dec 24
12:31
AM ET
ALLSTON, Mass. -- St. Sebastian’s was just too much for Catholic Memorial on Tuesday night at Harvard’s Bright Landry Rink.

The Arrows capitalized on three plays in transition and were stingy in their own end as they shut out the Knights, 3-0, to win the Kevin T. Mutch Cup.

“[St. Sebastian’s] is an exceptional team,” said longtime Catholic Memorial head coach Bill Hanson. “We’ve played Delbarton, Mount Saint Charles and Bishop Hendricken. They’re by far and away the best team we’ve played. We don’t have enough real good players like they have.”

The Arrows’ top line featuring Yale recruit Will D’Orsi centering R.J. Murphy and John Rourke provided much of the offensive spark. Murphy drew first blood at the 6:07 mark of the first period when he finished off a nice cross crease pass from D’Orsi on a two-on-one.

With a power play carrying over from the end of the first period the Arrows extended their lead to 2-0 just 38 seconds into the second frame. The top power play unit was moving the puck around the Knights zone with ease when Eric Jeremiah’s shot was blocked and seemingly landed right on D’Orsi’s stick for an easy goal.

Paul McAuliffe gave St. Seb’s a 3-0 advantage with 1:19 to play in the second period on a transition play. McAuliffe picked up a pass from Christian Reenstierna before driving to the net. As he was falling down he lifted a backhand that snuck between CM goaltender Brandon Collett and the near post.

St. Sebastian’s senior goaltender Danny Higgins held down the fort against minimal pushback from a Catholic Memorial squad that mustered little in the way of offense. It was the first shutout of the season for the Arrows’ captain.

“It’s great to have him back there,” St. Sebastian’s head coach Sean McCann said. “He’s a senior. He’s an older kid and has experience back there. He’s a calming force for us. I feel comfortable with him back there. He makes the saves that we require out of him.”

Speed Kills: D’Orsi, Murphy and Rourke put on quite a show in the first period with their speed and chemistry. The three really feed off each other and seem to know where to look to find the others.

“The reason is because they can skate,” said McCann. “They can handle the puck and be creative offensively. They’ve all been centermen before. They feel comfortable filling each other’s roles. They do it well coming up the ice. They have a good sense of each other.”

D’Orsi is the most well known of the group, having committed to Yale. He’s got tremendous speed and is crafty with the puck.

“[Speed] is a huge asset for his game,” McCann said. “He surprises defensemen because it doesn’t look like he’s going that much faster when he hits that next gear. He’s just such a smooth skater he’s able to keep that next gear and get by defensemen.”

Murphy has above average speed, but brings a little more physicality and power to the offensive zone than D’Orsi’s more finesse style. Murphy who made the team last year as a freshman has stepped up his game to a whole new level in his second varsity season.

“He’s always had tremendous skill. He can really shoot the puck. The thing he’s done is become a better skater overall. He’s had more patience with the puck. He’s finding his spots. He’s doing a better job as we go along,” McCann said of Murphy who was an invitee to last summer’s USA Hockey Select 16 Festival in Amherst, NY.

Work in Progress: It’s not often a coach sees positives from a 3-0 shutout loss in which his team had little in the way of scoring chances, but Hanson came away with some optimism for the future from Tuesday’s outing.

“The positive I can take out of that game is that in our end of the ice, they never bottled us up for any long stretches. We didn’t turn the puck over which kept them from coming away with easy scoring opportunities,” said Hanson. “The last period they only had two shots on goal. We played with a lot more courage and enthusiasm.”

On the other hand, Hanson was concerned with his team’s inability to play physically and prevent the transitional success that the Arrows enjoyed.

“They got their three goals in transition. It was a real lack of us being physical enough in our offensive zone which led to them having numbers,” said Hanson.

As he was much of last season, Collett will be the driving force between this year’s Knights. The junior goaltender made several nice saves including one midway through the second period on Murphy where he went post-to-post before sticking out the glove.

“Our goaltending will definitely be a strength all season,” Hanson said.

Hanson’s defense did a fairly good job containing the Arrows’ high-powered attack outside of the transitional plays and the power play tally. Led by juniors Frank Cosolito and Declan O’Malley, the Knights have some good size on the backend, but are still very much a work in progress.

“Our defensemen, the young guys that we’re bringing along, are a work in progress,” Hanson said. “As a coach my goal is by February 1st to have them much better than they are now.”

The Knights will look to take some of the lessons learned from tonight’s game and move forward starting with a nonconference tilt against St. John’s (Shrewsbury) at Loring Arena on Saturday in the first round of the Silverback tournament.

McLeod, Dottin lead dynamic Cambridge backcourt

December, 23, 2014
Dec 23
4:11
PM ET
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- The scoreboard in Bedford High School’s gymnasium read 16 seconds.

Sophomore guard Jakigh Dottin skied for a defensive rebound, pivoted immediately after hitting the ground, and burst down the floor. He split two defenders with his dribble around half court, got into the opposing team’s paint, left his feet, and dropped a no-look pass to his left that hit his running mate Isaiah McLeod in stride for an easy layup.

The scoreboard read 11 seconds.

That basket capped off an emphatic run at the end of the second quarter of Cambridge’s third victory this season, as the Falcons blazed past Bedford to win 95-68.

It’s one thing to be fast, but Cambridge Rindge & Latin (4-0) may have the most dangerous backcourt in the state because Dottin and McLeod are almost always on the same page.

This is Jakigh’s second season as the Falcons’ primary point guard, while 6-foot-1 senior Isaiah McLeod is one of the most accomplished players in the rich history of Cambridge’s basketball program.

Yet these two hometown kids have played together for several years at different levels, and that may be why they know each other’s tendencies on the court.

“Most of the time if I’m going full speed down the court I try to locate Isaiah and get him the ball,” said Jakigh. “We work on that chemistry in practice, when we play pickup, and in games. My primary focus is always getting him the ball in positions to score.”

McLeod, an ESPN Boston All-State selection and the MVP of the Greater Boston League last season, credits Jakigh’s distributing ability as part of his recent success.

As Jakigh’s uncle and Falcons head coach Lance Dottin can attest, having two talented guards has been invaluable to the program.

“We needed Isaiah to score more, and taking him off the ball provided that opportunity. Jakigh is a natural facilitator, so they complimented each other well” said Dottin.

The coach continued, “Their relationship has developed over the years. Isaiah being the older of the two, he’s a guy that Jakigh looks up to, and wants to model himself after, but there was a bit of a trial period last year. Isaiah was the elder spokesperson, and at times they might’ve clashed, but I think overall they have a great deal of respect for each other and what they bring to the table.”

Born For This

Both of these players have lived in Cambridge their whole lives, and said they looked up to the varsity basketball players growing up.

McLeod’s father, Tony, was a guard on the Falcons’ 1981 state championship team, and played alongside Patrick Ewing. Jakigh’s uncle was also part of a state championship team (in 1986), and his nephew has been itching for an opportunity to add to his family’s legacy in Cambridge.

“I’ve been around the program my whole life, basically since kindergarten,” said Jakigh. “I really feel I was born for this. Since I was younger, I went to [coach Dottin’s] practices, knew all the players, and I was expected to come right in and make an impact, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

Already six feet tall and extremely athletic, Jakigh made that impact by averaging 8.7 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 3.5 assists during his freshman season. For better or worse, his uncle has been there with him through every step of his growth as a ball player.

“He treats me a little differently from the rest of the team,” Jakigh said about his coach. “He expects more from me, but not in a bad way necessarily, because it might make me better in the long run.”

Dottin admitted, “There were some growing pains last year, but as I always tell my nephew, ‘this is a marathon, not a sprint.’”

He continued, “Jakigh’s physically gifted, but for us, it’s about having him grow and mature as a point guard, because there is a lot of criticism and responsibility that goes along with being the point since you're essentially an extension of the bench.”

Dottin heaped praise on McLeod, who he said has been a staple of the program over the last few years. The Southern Connecticut State signee averaged 15.5 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and two steals per game last season. He’s excelling once again this year, as he paced Cambridge to a win at Bedford with a game-high 32 points.

“I have so much respect for Isaiah,” Dottin said. “He’s a kid that’s completely bought in to our program, he’s done all the things we’ve asked him to do, and when you look at the final product, you see an outstanding young man.”

He may be more guarded when lauding his nephew, but the 19-year head coach seems to feel that both of these guards are destined for greatness.

“Both of them work as hard as anyone we’ve had in this program, and we’ve had some really great players,” said Dottin. “These two really fall into that mold in that they never take a day off, and you can see the product of their work ethic on the court.”

Speed Kills

Bedford and Cambridge were tied at 13 after one quarter last Friday night, but then the No. 3 team in ESPN Boston’s preseason polls seemed to flip a switch.

The Falcons went to a full-court zone press, forcing Bedford to commit eight turnovers as they opened the second quarter on a 13-0 run.

“We can wear down on teams with our press, and get them out of their comfort zone,” said McLeod. “That’s the way we want to play. We’re a fast team. We like to get the ball and go, so when we can cause turnovers it helps us get our offense going too.”

The success of that pressure began in training camp, where the Falcons begin each practice by sliding their feet with hands behind their backs in a 'zig-zag' drill.

Of course, when you increase the tempo, you have to be well conditioned, and McLeod somehow managed to play at high level without coming out of the game until late in the fourth quarter at Bedford.

“We focus in the summer on getting our bodies ready for the season so we don’t get tired during those late-game situations,” said McLeod.

Jakigh agreed, “Those workouts help out a lot. Coach says tired in just a state of mind, and he’s right. It’s your mind telling you to stop, but your body can keep going as long as you put the work in to prepare.”

Going Out On Top

Cambridge is one of the most storied programs in the state, but the Falcons are going through a bit of a down period by their standards.

Central Catholic bounced them from the second round of the state tournament in each of the last two seasons, but Jakigh and McLeod feel this year’s team is ready to make the next step.

“We’re a very athletic team,” said McLeod. “We’ve got kids that are fast, strong, and can jump out the gym, but we’ve got to work on our communication. There are times when we’re not matched up correctly and give up open shots.”

The Falcons allowed Bedford to shoot just under 50 percent from downtown, as the Buccaneers hit 15 threes last Friday, but shored up their defense by holding Westford Academy to just 51 points in their next contest.

“When we get into situations where someone loses an assignment and we start arguing with each other, it’s just like ‘why?’" wondered Jakigh. “What we need to do is work on avoiding those breakdowns altogether.”

The sophomore continued, “Looking at our personnel, you wonder how anyone can stay in front of us. It’s like we have an army, and if you take one of us out then someone else is ready to step up. There are no weak links. Everybody plays their role, and they’re damn good at it.”

For McLeod, there is added incentive to get over the hump in his senior season.

“It would mean the world to me,” McLeod said about going out on top with a state championship. “Going out in the second round these last two years was tough, but we’ve worked too hard to go out too early in the tournament this year. If we listen to coach and play hard, we’re going to make a deep run. We’re the only ones who could stop ourselves.”

Our preseason MIAA girls' hockey All-State team

December, 23, 2014
Dec 23
2:23
PM ET
Presenting our MIAA girls' hockey preseason All-State team:

1st Team
F – Emily Loprete, Sr., Watertown/Belmont
F – Ali O’Leary, Jr., Reading
F – Adrieana Rossini, Sr., Arlington Catholic
D – Jaimee Cooke, Jr., Austin Prep
D – Caroline Seibold, Jr., Reading
G – Caty Flagg, Jr., Austin Prep

2nd Team
F – Kelly Browne, Frosh., Burlington
F – Jess Pircacini, Sr., Arlington Catholic
F – Jane Dudley, Sr., Duxbury
D – Payton Donato, Jr., Duxbury
D – Sarah Goss, Sr., Wellesley
G – Maddie Scavotto, Sr., Falmouth

3rd Team
F – Leah Cardarelli, Sr., Acton-Boxborough
F – Amanda Conway, Sr., Tewksbury/Methuen
F – Sam Girard, Sr., Dedham
D – Alex Macrides, Soph., Acton-Boxborough
D – Kendall Stouffer, Sr., Falmouth
G – Olivia Sollows, Frosh., Barnstable
Braintree High School is the epicenter for top-flight high school girls basketball in New England this holiday weekend, as some of the top programs from the northeast are squaring off in the first annual Greater Northeast Girls Basketball Showcase.

The No. 1 and No. 2 teams in ESPNBoston.com's statewide girls hoop poll, Braintree and Archbishop Williams, will close down the two-day event in a highly-anticipated nightcap for state bragging rights. More than a half-dozen Division 1 recruits will be suiting up in that matchup, between Braintree's Ashley Russell (Penn), Bridget Herlihy (Villanova), Molly Reagan (Liberty) and Brianna Herlihy; and Archies' Jaylen Williams (Penn State), Alana Gilmer (Virginia Tech) and Jenna Clark.

Also of note is a rematch between Braintree and nationally-renowned Bronx, N.Y. power Christ The King to cap the first day. Christ The King -- which historically has produced WNBA stars such as Tina Charles, Sue Bird and Chamique Holdsclaw -- handed the Wamps their only loss of the season last winter, at the Hoophall Classic, en route to the MIAA Division 1 State Championship.

Hartford, Conn.'s Capital Prep and Providence's Classical High will also be participating in the event.

Courtesy of Braintree Athletic Director Mike Denise, here is the official press release:



High School Girls Basketball is taking center court on Sunday, December 28 and Monday, December 29, as top-ranked high school girls basketball programs from Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New York compete in the Greater Northeast Girls Basketball Showcase at Braintree High School sponsored by Hyatt Place Boston/Braintree.

Competing schools include host Braintree High School, along with local community member Archbishop Williams High School, representing Massachusetts, as well as Capital Prep from Hartford, CT, Providence Classical (RI) and Christ The King from Lower Bronx, NY.

Showcase Match-ups for Sunday, December 28:

5 p.m. - Archbishop Williams vs. Classical (R.I.)
7 p.m. - Braintree vs. Christ The King (N.Y.)

Showcase Match-ups for Monday, December 29:

4 p.m. - Capital Prep (Conn.) vs. Christ The King (N.Y.)
6 p.m. - Braintree vs. Archbishop Williams

General Admission game-day tickets will be on sale 1-1/2 hours prior to the start of the first contest each day. Ticket price is $ 8.00 per person and includes admission to both contests on that specific day.

For more information, please contact Braintree High School Athletic Director Michael Denise at
(781) 848-4000 x2124.


Tags:

Basketball

BABC Holiday Classic schedule

December, 23, 2014
Dec 23
9:11
AM ET
A number of teams currently ranked in ESPNBoston.com's statewide Top 25 will be squaring off this coming weekend in the Boston Amateur Basketball Club's annual BABC Holiday Classic. The three-day showcase event will take place Saturday, Sunday and Monday at Cathedral High School, in Boston's South End.

Here is the schedule:

(*denotes teams currently ranked by ESPNBoston.com)

Saturday, Dec. 27
11 a.m. - Boston Cathedral vs. Belmont
1 p.m. - New Mission* vs. Woburn
2:30 p.m. - Brighton* vs. Everett*
4 p.m. - East Boston* vs. Albany Academy (N.Y.)
5:30 p.m. - Cambridge* vs. Portsmouth (N.H.)

Sunday, Dec. 28
1 p.m. - Quincy* vs. Everett*
2:30 p.m. - Dorchester vs. Mansfield*
4 p.m. - East Boston* v. Portsmouth (N.H.)
5:30 p.m. - Cambridge* vs. Albany Academy (N.Y.)

Monday, Dec. 29
11 a.m. - Boston Cathedral vs. North Quincy
1 p.m. - New Mission* vs. Windsor (Conn.)
2:30 p.m. - St. John's Prep* vs. St. Clement*
4 p.m. - Quincy* vs. Woburn
5:30 p.m. - Dorchester vs. University (Conn.)
Tags:

Basketball

We updated our statewide MIAA Top 25 boys basketball poll this afternoon. To view it, CLICK HERE.

With many key holiday tournaments bleeding into the early part of the week, our next poll update will be on Tuesday, Dec. 30.

Scores from tonight's games were not factored into the poll.

A few notes and observations about this week's poll:

Historic achievement for Big 3: With Brockton's splash-landing into the poll at No. 8 this week, on the heels of upsets over St. John's of Shrewsbury and BC High, this marks the first time the Big 3 Conference has had all three of its member schools represented at once. Durfee (21) and New Bedford (25) remained in the poll despite losses to ranked teams last week. This also marks the first time in any sport's poll in ESPNBoston.com's history that any league's full membership has been represented.

Win streak no more, but Putnam still the one: Two-time defending Division 1 state champion Putnam saw its 35-game win streak snapped this weekend in a loss to Hartford, Conn. power Weaver at the BasketBull Hoops Fest, breaking a run that started in February of 2013. Still, the Beavers remain No. 1 this week, and the top four remains the same. Catholic Memorial comes in at No. 2, followed by Cambridge (3), Andover (4) and Danvers (5), which moved up two spots following losses by New Mission and St. John's of Shrewsbury last week.

Other notable debuts: Brighton makes its season debut this week at No. 12, following a win over New Mission in Hyde Park. Meanwhile, Quincy debuts at No. 22 after a 2-0 start to the season.

As always, here's how the poll breaks down by league affiliation:

Big Three - 3
Boston City - 3
Catholic Conference - 3
Merrimack Valley - 3
Northeastern - 2
Bay State - 1
Catholic Central - 1
Central Mass. Conference - 1
Dual County - 1
Eastern Athletic - 1
Greater Boston - 1
Hockomock - 1
Old Colony - 1
Patriot - 1
Valley League - 1
Valley Wheel - 1

Hal Gill brings NHL pedigree to L-S staff

December, 22, 2014
Dec 22
9:19
PM ET
MARLBOROUGH, Mass. -- Hal Gill still yearns for a return to the NHL. Having spent the better part of 16 years in the league, Gill became a free agent after spending a cup of coffee with the Philadelphia Flyers last season.

At 39 years of age, Gill still looks the part of a one-time top defenseman. Continuing to workout regularly, often at his alma mater Providence College, Gill has managed to hold onto his playing shape extremely well.

It would be easy to sit by the phone and wait for that call to arrive from a team in need of a veteran defenseman. But Gill refuses to stand pat. Having moved into the town of Lincoln four years ago, Gill relishes in his desire to stay involved in game some way, somehow.
After conferring with one-time Boston Bruins teammate Andrew Raycroft, who lives one town over in Sudbury, the two approached Lincoln-Sudbury High School athletic director Peter Elenbass asking if there was something they could do to assist the hockey program.

Obviously, such an inquiry was a no-brainer for Elenbass or Warriors head coach Tom Pare, and before this season Gill and Raycroft were added to the L-S coaching staff.

"When I first moved to Lincoln I got to know the community a little bit," said Gill, following a recent practice at New England Sports Center. "After talking with Andrew [Raycroft], we both felt it would be awesome if we could help out the high school team. We met with Peter [Elenbass] and he hooked us up with Tom [Pare] and we just went from there. Coaching is something I enjoy. I enjoy the competition and right now this is the closest I can get to competition."

Raycroft, who was a goaltender with the Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs, Colorado Avalanche, Vancouver Canucks and Dallas Stars, helps out a couple of days a week due to his other commitment as assistant coach at UConn.

Gill, on the other hand, is a daily fixture at Warriors practices and games.

"One of the things that obviously attracted me was Hal's instant credibility," Pare said. "He came to me and said whatever you need me to do and how can I help. It was a very first cordial conversation that we had and very humble versus him saying this what I am going to bring to the table.

“It speaks volumes in our community where Andrew lives in Sudbury and Hal lives in Lincoln and they are both willing to help their community and work with the kids. It keeps them involved in the sport they love. Both are hands-on when it comes to teaching. They are young and good enough to get right up there with the players. To have that one-on-one kind of teaching from both of them has been huge for our program."

For Gill, this latest chapter of his career is much like a return to his roots. An exceptional football and hockey player at Nashoba Regional in Bolton, Gill received several college offers in both sports. But the 6-7 defenseman chose hockey and Providence, where he excelled.

In the 1993 NHL Draft, Gill was the 207th overall pick by the Bruins and spent eight productive seasons with the franchise. His journey through the NHL continued with stops in Toronto, Pittsburgh, Montreal, Nashville and Philadelphia. In 2009, he hoisted the Stanley Cup as a member of the Penguins.

Gill also took home a bronze medal in 2004 playing for Team USA in the World Cup.

Making the transition from professional athlete to coach can be a difficult one. Gill does not dispute the fact he is learning his new trade on the fly.

"I told Tom that if I am too much just tell me to back off," he said. "I'm learning a lot from the other coaches here and the players. When I say I want to help, I'm just trying to fit in. Some guys are visual learners while others need to be told how to do something so I'm just trying to figure out how the guys here learn.

“I think every coach has a hard time starting out because you are wondering to yourself what am I going to do and what can I bring to the table, so this is definitely a learning curve for me.”

While many things have come naturally to him, Gill fully understands that is not how it works at the high school level. Teaching and explanation go hand in hand here and, thus far, he appears to be conforming to that philosophy quite well.

"He has a deep knowledge of the game and knows what it takes to be successful," said senior captain Ryan Dale. "It's those little tips he offers that you may have never heard before or never really thought about that are important. He brings those kinds of attributes to the table. He's not afraid to express it, which is awesome.

“Both he and Coach Raycroft aren't just here to skate around. Both are very involved in helping all of us get better."

In each of the last two seasons, the Warriors reached the Division 2 North semifinals before bowing out against eventual state champions Beverly and Wilmington, respectively. The hope this time around is to advance beyond the semifinal round and make a solid push at a state title.

"Beverly was a very good team last year as was Wilmington the year before," Pare said. "Let's face it, we ran into some very hot teams. For us to improve, we need to get a bit more hungrier in those dirty areas on the ice. We need to be more consistent in our routines throughout the year. We've been doing it so far, but it's still early and we need to see where it translates to. In order for us to make that jump we need to have a more physical presence."

Who better to instill that intangible than Gill?

Having branded his NHL resume with a physical, lock-down style of play, Gill was highly-regarded as a player capable of manhandling some of the very best forwards the game has ever produced. But his teaching of the game will not be restricted to the defensive zone according to Pare.

"When you have played against some of the top forwards in the world like Hal did, you are obviously going to learn things in regards to what was tough for him individually," he said. "It could be a whole basket of things. What does a certain forward bring that is hard to defend, etc.? Hal will be able to translate those things to our kids. He is a coach and not just a defensive coach. I told our forwards that he isn't going to just talk to the defensive players and not them."

Undoubtedly, Gill has obtained a wealth of knowledge over the years from great coaches and teammates, and now he will be able to pass his expertise to the team.

When it comes right down to it, how often are high school players given the luxury to pick a former NHL player's brain? Let alone two?

"Two things that I have always relied on in this game is if you work as hard as you can and have fun doing it." Gill said. "Coaches have to make changes but players need to always work hard and enjoy playing the game. It's not something you can just switch on and off. When you get into that battle whether it be at a practice or a game, there are times for things like flow drills, etc. but you also need to have that mindset to battle."

A husband and a father, Gill says he has learned to manage his time schedule around his wife Anne, daughters Sophie, Isabelle and son Talon, his duties as high school hockey coach and his daily workout routine.

All the while, he patiently awaits that phone call which could come at any time.

"I'm still training and staying in shape and I'll be ready for it if and when it comes," said Gill. "There is a lot of things involved. You need for it to be the right team and you need to have someone take a chance on me.

“Other than that, there isn't much more I can do. That's the hard part because I can't do a skating test for a team to show them that I am still in shape. I really enjoy where I am at right now but I would still love to play. If I am coaching two years down the road I would be happy with that but right now I just want to play again. It's hard when you still feel like you can contribute something and you can't."

It remains to be seen whether or not Gill gets the call.

If not, Gill knows he has a spot on the L-S bench for as long as he wants to as he now builds on a new resume.
Reading Memorial High School will host the Winter Classic Showcase presented by Bauer, featuring the boys' hockey teams from
Andover, Arlington Catholic, Billerica and Reading.

Here's a look at the schedule, with all action scheduled for Reading's Burbank Arena:

Monday, Dec. 22
Andover vs. Billerica, 6:30 p.m.
Arlington Catholic vs. Reading, 8:30 p.m.

Monday, Dec. 29
Consolation game, 6:30 p.m.
Championship game, 8:30 p.m.

Tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for students

Recap: Salisbury takes 2nd straight Flood-Marr title

December, 21, 2014
Dec 21
11:00
PM ET
DEDHAM, Mass. – The Salisbury School put up a pair of goals in the third period to skate by The Westminster School, 3-1, to win the Flood-Marr tournament for the second straight year.

It was the Crimson Knights' third title in six years overall.

The game-winning goal came on an acrobatic improvisation by Cole Poliziani to sneak the puck past Stephen Gasior midway through the third.

“I saw the [defenseman] going for the shot so I spun off the [defenseman] in front of the net,” Poliziani said. “It hit off the goalie's pad and then it hit my shin pad. It was in the air so I whacked it. The initial whack hit the post and then I was brought down to the ground so I whacked it in with my backhand. Greatest feeling ever.”

Tom Lee scored early in the first period to give the Crimson Knights an early lead after a slogging first period before the action picked up in the second. Westminster asserted itself from the opening drop in the second period. It was the only period in which the Martlets outshot Salisbury, and Westy solved the Salisbury defense midway through the period when Taggart Corriveau tipped home a shot from the point by Kevin O'Leary.

The Martlets controlled the play along the boards and crashed the net hard throughout the middle 15 minutes.

“We didn't have the best second period,” Poliziani said. “Between the second and the third we got together and said we got to work harder and give everything we got. It's the lat 15 minutes. It's worth it.”

Anthony Vincent added an empty-net goal with a second remaining to cap the win for Salisbury. In total, five different Crimson Knights found the score sheet.

“We're getting offensive contributions from all four forward lines and the back end as well,” Salisbury coach Andrew Will said. “For us to be successful this year we're going to need that. It's going to be by committee.”

Despite the loss, Westminster coach Tim Joncas said that he was pleased with his club's performance over the weekend.

“Today it would have been nice to win the championship, but coming out of the Flood-Marr 3-1 is a pretty big accomplishment,” Joncas said. “I'm proud of the kids for hard they played. Four games in three days is not easy.”

BAILEY'S DOMAIN: For Beverly native Bailey MacBurnie, the journey to winning the MVP of the Flood-Marr tournament has been a circuitous one.

Two stints at St. Mary's, including a Super 8 appearance, split by a year at Brewster Academy in New Hampshire has given the postgraduate goaltender a veteran's touch on and off the ice, so says Will.

“He's added maturity,” Will said. “He's added some experience and confidence. He believes in himself, and he believes in his teammates. You've got a goalie who wants to have some pressure on him and be called upon to make a big save. Having that attitude, that approach has been huge for us.”

MacBurnie gave up four goals over the four-game tournament to net the award. His 16 saves in the title game backstopped the Knights to the title.

“He was stellar,” Poliziani said. “He's something else. Love the guy.”

MacBurnie said that playing at Salisbury has been a 180 from his time at Brewster and the ability of both the players and coaches is unmatched at this level.

“This is a hockey factory,” MacBurnie said. “There are some of the best players in the country on this team. A lot of kids in this room are going to play Division 1 college hockey. Coming from Brewster there wasn't a hockey atmosphere. It was more of a basketball atmosphere.

“This is all hockey everyday. You live it, breathe it. It's unbelievable. I'm so thankful for Coach Will and the rest of the coaching staff. I've never met a group of men that know so much about the sport. They make me better every single day.”

Our preseason MIAA boys' hockey All-State team

December, 21, 2014
Dec 21
9:14
PM ET
Presenting our MIAA boys' hockey preseason All-State team:

1st Line
F – Peter Crinella, Sr., Springfield Cathedral
F – Matt Filipe, Jr., Malden Catholic
F – Pat Kramer, Sr., BC High
D – Ryan Shea, Jr., BC High
D – Mike Seibold, Sr., Reading
G – Brandon Collett, Jr., Catholic Memorial

2nd Line
F – Johnny Leonard, Jr. Springfield Cathedral
F – D.J. Petruzzelli, Sr., Springfield Cathedral
F – Riley Prattson, Soph., Springfield Cathedral
D – John McLean, Sr., Malden Catholic
D – Dan Petrick, Jr., Springfield Cathedral
G – Keith Petruzzelli, Soph., Springfield Cathedral

3rd Line
F – Eric MacAdams, Jr., Austin Prep
F – Ryan Smith, Sr., Arlington Catholic
F – Tim Sweeney, Sr., Xaverian
D – Frank Cosolito, Jr., Catholic Memorial
D – Ryan Walsh, Sr., Xaverian
G – Aidan Murphy, Soph., Xaverian

Recap: No. 13 St. John's Prep 3, No. 16 Hingham 1

December, 21, 2014
Dec 21
4:06
PM ET
WILMINGTON, Mass. -- For an early-season game, the Ristuccia Arena got pretty loud on Saturday afternoon, as St. John’s Prep hosted Hingham High School in the Eagles' season opener.

St. John’s Prep controlled the action for much of the first period as the Eagles’ offense proved to be a challenge for Hingham’s young defense and they were aggressive with very physical play in the first period led by captain Tyler Scearbo. The Eagles didn't relent and, in the end, held on for a 3-1 win over the Harbormen.

Despite plenty of chances in the first period, St. John's Prep failed to capitalize on an opportunity until captain Nick Latham put the first point on the board with 4:10 left in the first period.

Fellow captains Teddy McNamara and Scearbo assisted Latham on the goal.

“I was able to find the low slot and was able to get it past the goalie,” Latham said.

Less than 20 seconds later, with 3:52 left in the period, junior Billy Falter put the second point on the board for the Eagles from just outside the goal crease.

The first period ended with the Eagles up 2-0, having outshot the Harbormen 17-3.

In the second period, Hingham’s junior goalie Andrew Ehler made several key saves, keeping the Harbormen close.

Still, the Eagles increased their lead with 4:20 left in the second period, when their captain-trio struck again. McNamara scored from the right faceoff circle, with assists from Scearbo and Latham. Although the Eagles were up 3-0, the Harbormen played hard and sophomore Matt Egan put their first goal on the board to end the second period.

The third period saw strong performances from both defenses. No goals were scored as each team was only able to muster four shots.

“I thought our defense played well, and that’s another area where there’s all new faces” said St. John’s Prep head coach Kristian Hanson. “They did a pretty good job of keeping all of the shots to the perimeter, made some simple and easy breakout passes, which is what we stressed with the guys.”

"We’ve been coming up here for years, and we know what it’s like” said Hingham head coach Tony Messina. “We have to withstand the storm--they’ve got to be flying. We gave up two goals, but it settled down after that.”

Despite their Top 25 rankings to start the season, Hingham and St. John’s Prep have relatively young teams. Hingham has just nine seniors on its roster this year. St. John’s Prep has six.

The St. John’s Prep captains had nothing but praise for the their young defense.

"Coming into the season, we were nervous about who was going to play defense and goalie for us," McNamara said. “They stepped up big time.”

Hingham is back to action on Christmas Eve, looking to get a win against Weymouth.

“We’re going to have to take care of the D-Zone” said Messina. “We need to establish a little more offense. We just need to create some more opportunities for ourselves.”

Meanwhile, St. John’s Prep looks to maintain their momentum against Woburn on Tuesday.

“I just want them to work hard and play hard hockey in the corners," said Hanson. "We’re not the best team in the state but we want to be the hardest working team.”

“We need to build off of this game,” McNamara said of Saturday's win. “Winning the first game of the year is great. Now, we just need to keep this pattern.”

Recap: No. 3 Malden Catholic 4, Delbarton (N.J.) 3

December, 21, 2014
Dec 21
12:04
PM ET


CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- The big question entering the season for four-time defending Super 8 Champion Malden Catholic was who was going to step up and fill the scoring void left with the departure of former ESPN Boston Mr. Hockey winners Ara Nazarian and Tyler Sifferlen.

The answer might be big junior winger Jack Adams, who notched two goals, including the game winner, Saturday night in his team’s season-opening 4-3 win over Delbarton (N.J.) School at Harvard University’s Bright Landry Hockey Arena.

“Ara and Siff were our guys last year. I still talk to them on a regular basis and get advice from them. Guys need to step up this year. Everyone’s writing us off, but we got a lot of guys in this group. We all believe,” said Adams.

Northeastern commit Matt Filipe had a goal and an assist and defenseman John McLean also lit the lamp for the Lancers, who took a 4-1 lead before letting the Green Wave back into the game towards the end.

“We wanted to keep it entertaining,” joked head coach John McLean. “It made it interesting in the end.”

“We got on them early. We closed it out in the end which matters the most. It’s a good win to start the season,” added Adams.

Adams opened the scoring at the 9:33 mark of the first period on a second attempt shot from the high slot that beat Delbarton goaltender Troy Kobryn low blocker side. Adams’ first shot was blocked, but he picked it right up and fired quickly into the far corner.

The Lancers extended their lead to 2-0 just 1:42 into the middle frame on a play generated by hard work along the boards. Filipe battled all the way from the half-wall down to the end boards with a Green Wave defender before gaining control of the puck. He swung around the net and pushed a wraparound attempt past Kobryn for the two-goal lead.

Delbarton answered right back just under three minutes later, when Harrison Newman scored his first of two goals on the night. As he was cutting into the zone down the left wing, his first shot was blocked by a defender, but his second swat went bar down to cut the MC lead in half.

A turning point in the game came with seven minutes to play in the second period. MC senior goaltender Alex Reissis stopped Delbarton’s Kevin Obssuth on a breakaway attempt and the Green Wave player took a penalty just five seconds later.

Malden Catholic regained its two-goal lead on the ensuing power play. Filipe fed the puck up to McLean at the right point. The senior defenseman wasted no time firing an absolute rocket that caromed into the back of the net after hitting traffic in front.

Adams gave the Lancers some much-needed breathing room at the 3:00 mark of the third period. Nick Botticelli made a great play with some slick moves down the right boards to gain entry into the zone. After some cycling down low, the puck ended up right on Adams’ stick in the low slot for a quick put away into the net for a 4-1 lead.

That three-goal cushion ended up coming in handy for Malden Catholic. Newman scored again off a nice lead pass by defenseman Sean Petrie with 3:11 to play. Just 16 seconds later, Jack Chatwin drew the visitors to within a goal. Filipe was whistled for an interference penalty that allowed Delbarton to have a two-man advantage with the goalie pulled in the final seconds of the game, but the Lancers held off the charge.

Beneficial Offseason: Jack Adams knows a thing or two about what it takes to get a Division I scholarship. His brother Mark plays college hockey at Providence and is a draft pick of the Buffalo Sabres. However, it was a season ending meeting with after last season with McLean that set in motion an offseason of hard work that has paid huge dividends.

“Coach McLean and I had a big meeting at the end of the year. [Skating] was one of the things he wanted me to work on. I’m a big guy. It’s sometimes harder for me,” said Adams.

Adams worked with veteran skating guru Paul Vincent, who has been around the rinks and worked with countless NHLers over the past few decades.

“I went to Paul Vincent Hockey this summer. They worked on my skating every day of the week. They worked on my stride in the weight room with my trainer Marco Sanchez,” explained Adams, who is beginning to draw some interest from Division 1 schools.

The 6-foot-5 junior has always had a scoring touch, but his coach thought he needed to work on his strength and foot speed in order to elevate his game to the next level.

“He’s always had the offensive smarts. He’s got great hands. He can always finish. You know he’s a big kid. Until he fills out it’s hard to get going. We talked about it. He needed to get to the gym and work hard. He skated with Paul all summer. So far it’s paid off,” said McLean.

Reissis Makes the Grade: Goaltending sometimes can get lost in the shadows when a team has players such as Sifferlen, Nazarian and Filipe scoring goals and generating headlines up front. But to his teammates, there is no forgetting the key role goaltending plays in winning hockey games.

“He’s been important [all along]. He was good today. He stood on his head as usual. He’s a great goalie,” commented Adams.

His importance was never more evident than when he made a big save with his right pad on a breakaway in the second period. It really shifted the momentum back in MC’s favor.

“That’s what he’s supposed to do. Make the saves when he has to. Keep us in the game when we make mistakes. It was a great save at the time. 2-2 would have been a completely different game,” explained McLean.

Reissis and Malden Catholic are off until after Christmas when they host Hingham in the first round of the Christie Serino Classic at the Valley Forum in Malden.

Recap: Weaver (Conn.) 65, No. 1 Putnam 60

December, 21, 2014
Dec 21
2:45
AM ET
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- The right team under the right circumstances was needed in order to defeat No. 1 Putnam, the two-time reigning Division 1 state champion.

On Friday night, that team emerged as Hartford’s Weaver High School, taking down Putnam, 65-60, snapping the team’s 35 game-winning streak -- which spanned three seasons -- in the final game of the annual BasketBull Hoops Fest on Western New England University in Springfield.

“We knew coming into the game knowing about their legacy, being 49-1 in the last two seasons. We played them in the summer time, and we knew it was going to be good game,” said Weaver junior guard KeAndre Fair. “We knew they were a good team.”

After trailing at half, Putnam recaptured the lead at 50-46 entering the fourth quarter. Weaver and Putnam, both nicknamed the Beavers, would swap the lead with Ty Nichols setting up a Jonathan Garcia layup to give Putnam a 58-57 lead with 2:37 remaining.

Weaver responded with its own talented guard play. Jaecee Martin broke his man off the dribble, and had a nice reverse layup to give Weaver a 59-58 lead. On the ensuing possession, an extended zone defense forced a turnover, resulting in an uncontested layup by Fair.

Nichols, with less than 30 seconds left to play, drove to the basket and was called for an offensive foul, disqualifying him from the contest. Weaver closed out the game from the foul line with four made free throws.

This game didn’t follow the typical script during Putnam’s 35 game-win streak. Normally, guards -- regardless of how talented they were -- would eventually succumb to the relenting Putnam half-court defense, cough the ball up consistently late in the game, and the Beavers would begin to pull away. However, Weaver possessed a junior perimeter attack -- Fair, Jaecee Martin and Chaylyn Martin -- with all three capable of getting to the basket.

Putnam is also still adjusting to the absence of David Murrell, and more importantly on Saturday night, the perimeter defense of Dizel Wright, the all-state defensive team member who watched the loss from the stands.

“We weren’t able to keep their ball handlers in front of us at the end of the game.” Putnam head coach William Shepard said. “I probably should have made the switch a little quicker because their point guard kept getting by our initial defender.

“[Weaver brought to light some of the thing we’ve been bringing up in practice as far as someone else stepping up on our perimeter defense. Again, the point guard was consistently getting into our middle, making our guys rotate, finding guys or converting himself. Hopefully, guys will understand the urgency and consistency of keeping your man in front of you.

The game, like the previous 35 games, included a turnovers. Although, that was in regards to the turnovers Putnam forced, not the ones the team committed. On Saturday night, Putnam turned the ball over 22 times.

Putnam jumped out to a double-digit advantage, leading 21-11 less than three minutes into the second quarter. Weaver was in a long drought (seven minutes in between field goals) and it appeared Putnam would maintain that lead.

However, in a whistle-happy first half, fouls amounted on both sides. In all, 23 fouls were called in through the first two quarters. Luckily for Weaver, most of the players hit with multiple fouls were reserves. Putnam, on the other, hand had to sideline Garcia and Nichols, both of whom had two, and kept Tyonne Malone Jr. on the floor, which resulted in him picking up his third foul just before half.

With Nichols and Garcia on the bench, Weaver head coach Reggie Hatchett decided to release his team’s defense from 2-3 zone to its helter skelter 2-2-1 full-court press. Weaver had struggled to score in the half-court set, and against the Putnam backup guards, Weaver was able to force turnovers and turn defense into offense.

“The foul trouble had guys playing in different roles and we had to shift and patch, so there press had an effect,” Shepard said.

With two key defenders on the bench, Putnam switched from its trademark man-to-man defense to a 2-3 zone, which made it easy for the struggling Weaver half-court offense.

The Weaver Beavers ended the final five minutes of the half with a 21-5 run, taking a 32-26 edge into the locker room. Fair scored his 1,000th career point as part of the spurt, which took some pressure off the sharpshooting junior.

“I think that opened things up for me, and I think the team fed off that” Fair said.

Fair ended with a game-high 24 points.

In the second half, with Garcia and Nichols back on the floor, Weaver decided to keep its full-court press on, however, Nichols and Garcia had no problem beating that up the floor time and time again, turning every possession, whether off a Weaver miss or a Weaver make, into a fast break opportunity.

Garcia scored a team-high 19 points and grabbed 10 boards. Nichols added 18.

“On the bench, we sitting there talking to each other saying, ‘We need to get back into this game,’” Garcia said. “We started talking about how to break the press.

“Me and Ty just have that connection, we see the openings and know where each other is going to go.”

The question coming into this season for Putnam was which reserve would step up and accept a bigger role. Last year, Putnam had an embarrassment of riches, going nine deep as opposed to the first state championship team that would often rely on just six players. This game served as valuable experience for those players moving forward.

“It’s good for that,” Garcia added. “This is Carlos [Gonzalez]’s first year starting, getting a bunch of minutes. This experience will help him, and I know Ki-Shawn [Monore] is already ready for it.

Putnam’s win streak began on Feb. 13, 2013 with a 62-40 win over Chicopee Comp. Before the streak was snapped on Saturday night’s loss to Weaver, Putnam’s last loss was to West Springfield in another back-and-forth hard-fought game. Like Saturday night, Wright watched that loss to West Side from the sidelines as he nursed an injury.

Since 2012-2013 season, Putnam has defeated West Springfield four times, most recently in the 2014 Western Mass. Division 1 championship game.

“They know what our goals were coming into this season,” Shepard said. “And like last year, it was never to go undefeated. We want to put ourselves in a position to defend our title. Period.”

Putnam returns to action on Monday night at East Longmeadow.
Tags:

Basketball

ESPN Boston MIAA Football All-State Team

December, 20, 2014
Dec 20
7:41
PM ET
OFFENSE

QB – Drew Jean-Guillaume, Sr., Shepherd Hill
The Rams ran for over 3,800 yards as a team this fall, and leading the way was the 5-foot-10, 200-pound Jean-Guillaume, who averaged 11.1 yards a carry in leading the team in every rushing category (118 carries, 1,310 yards, 22 TD). He also threw for 485 yards and four scores. Jean-Guillaume is committed to Central Connecticut State University as a running back.

QB – Koby Schofer, Jr., Northbridge
The grandson of Massachusetts’ all-time wins leader, Schofer led the Rams to the MIAA Division 5 State Championship for a second straight year, putting up monster numbers along the way. On the year, he completed 150 of 236 passes for 2,386 yards and 26 touchdowns, and carried 147 times for 1,306 yards and 19 more scores. He was the only quarterback in the state this year with both 2,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards.

QB – Nick Athy, Sr., Holliston
Spearheading one of the state’s most explosive offenses, Athy put up impressive numbers as the Panthers ran away with the Division 4 State Championship. On the season Athy completed 73 of 125 passes for 1,573 yards and 16 touchdowns to just four interceptions, while adding 187 carries for 1,429 yards and 28 scores on the ground.

QB – Jake Farrell, Sr., Xaverian
The signal-caller for the Division 1 state champions kept defenses honest with his flair for making the big play with his arm or his feet. Farrell threw for 729 yards and 11 touchdowns while running for 632 yards and five touchdowns on 64 carries. A three-sport athlete, Farrell is also a member of the Hawks' baseball and hockey teams.

RB – Brooks Tyrrell, Sr., Marblehead
The Notre Dame lacrosse commit capped his career as one of the most illustrious rushers in North Shore history. Tyrrell ran for 1,843 yards and 26 touchdowns, capping his career with 4,625 rushing yards and 62 touchdowns. The two-way starter also picked picked off four interceptions.

RB – Kerry Raymond, Jr., Brockton
Billed as one of the most promising Boxer backs in years, the 6-foot, 215-pound Raymond lived up to the hype in leading Brockton back to the Division 1 South tournament. On the year he averaged 8.1 yards a carry, with 149 rushes for 1,200 yards and 15 touchdowns.

RB – Mike Maggipinto, Jr., East Longmeadow
The 5-foot-5 scatback was the most elusive back Western Mass had to offer, going over 2,000 rushing yards for the second straight season as the Spartans reached the D2 West final. With his campaign of this fall of 233 carries for 2,080 yards and 26 scores, Maggipinto eclipsed the 4,000 yard mark for his career.

RB – Rufus Rushins, Sr., Bishop Fenwick
A year after claiming the Division 5 state championship, Rushins carried the Crusaders to a North sectional title for a second straight year, running for 1,899 yards and 19 touchdowns. A two-way starter for the last two years, Rushins also tallied 68 tackles with three sacks and three fumble recoveries.

WR – Brian Dunlap, Sr., Natick
The 6-foot-1, 180-pound Harvard commit was ESPN Boston’s Offensive Player of the Year, and leaves Natick as one of the most decorate wide receivers in state history with an unprecedented 4,020 receiving yards and 67 total touchdowns. After missing his entire junior year with a foot fracture, the two-time All-State came back as furious as ever, catching 60 passes for 1,281 yards and 21 touchdowns. He also returned three kicks for scores (two punts, one kickoff) and added two rushing scores, for totals of 26 touchdowns and 2,104 all-purpose yards.

WR – Nick Gill, Jr., BC High
The 6-foot-4, 185-pound Gill was one of the state’s best deep-ball threats, as the Eagles reached the Division 1 South Final. On the season, he caught 31 passes for 588 yards and five touchdowns.

WR – Owen Rockett, Sr., St. John’s Prep
Rockett established himself as one of the most elusive slot receivers this fall for the Eagles, as they reached the D1 North Final. On the season the 5-foot-10, 184-pound Marblehead resident had 43 catches for 746 yards and 12 touchdowns.

WR – Coby Tippett, Jr., Xaverian
Tippett came on strong during the second half of the season and the Hawks' run to the Division 1 state championship, as Xaverian opened up the aerial attack. The second-year starter went on to post seven touchdown catches, but also was a valuable member of the Hawks' secondary and was home-run threat on special teams, returning kickoffs and punts.

TE – Will Millett, Sr., Marblehead
The rangy tight end ranked among the state's leading statistical receivers throughout the season, finishing with 48 catches for more than 1,300 yards and 13 touchdown receptions on the season.

TE – Jake Burt, Sr., St. John’s Prep
The 6-foot-3, 238-pound Burt was integral in the Eagles’ running game as a blocker, and also imposed his will downfield. On the year, he recorded 23 catches for 255 yards and seven touchdowns. Burt will continue his career next year at Boston College.

TE – Alex Marshall, Jr., Andover
Arguably the state’s biggest target at 6-foot-7 and 225 pounds, Marshall made the most of it this fall for the Golden Warriors. On the year he had 22 catches for 351 yards and four touchdowns. Originally a University of North Carolina lacrosse commit as a sophomore, Marshall has since de-committed and turned his focus to football. He currently holds an offer from UMass, and could get more Division 1 offers this offseason.

OL – Chris Lindstrom, Sr., Shepherd Hill
The 6-foot-5, 240-pound Lindstrom was named ESPN Boston’s Lineman of the Year for this season after leading the Rams to the Division 4 Central title. The Rams ran for 3,800 yards and 49 touchdowns as a team, their second straight season going over 3,000 yards and 35 scores on the ground. He also had 66 tackles and 5.5 sacks at defensive end. A two-time All-State selection, Lindstrom is enrolling at Boston College in January.

OL – Joe Parsons, Sr., Xaverian
The UMass commit was the anchor to an offensive line that allowed the Hawks to run for more than 2,500 yards on the season. In pass protection, the 6-foot-5, 285-pounder allowed just one sack on the season and was graded out by coaches at a 90 percent blocking grade while posting 12 pancake blocks.

OL – Aaron Monteiro, Sr., Brockton
Monteiro swung his 6-foot-6, 310-pound frame around violently at times as the Boxers earned the No. 3 seed in D1 South. This fall, the Boxers averaged 227 rushing yards a game behind Monteiro on the left side of the line. He also recorded 34 tackles on defense as an interior lineman. Monteiro will continue his career next fall at Boston College.

OL – Kyle Murphy, Jr., Attleboro
The Blue Bombardiers' captain was an All-Hockomock League selection, playing as a two-way starter for a second straight year. On defense, the 6-foot-4, 255-pounder tallied 48 tackles, including four sacks to go along with a pair of fumble recoveries.

OL – Sean Ragan, Jr., St. John’s (Shrewsbury)
The 6-foot-5, 285-pounder has started every game at right guard the past two seasons for the Pioneers, and has yet to miss a snap as they have been the highest-scoring offense in Central Mass over the same span. Ragan has seen a varying degree of interest from Division 1 schools so far, including offers from Holy Cross and Miami (Fla.).

ATH – Zach Elkinson, Sr., Holliston
The University of Hartford lacrosse commit was a surefire home run threat for the D4 state champs, offensively averaging a touchdown every 4.8 touches. No performance was more brilliant than the D4 state final, carrying nine times for 212 yards and five touchdowns. On the season he carried 65 times for 826 yards and 12 touchdowns, and caught 32 passes for 737 yards and eight scores.

ATH – Shane Combs, Sr., St. John’s (Shrewsbury)
Combs, a Notre Dame baseball commit, fulfilled a plethora of roles this season for the Pioneers. On the season he carried 209 times for 1,514 yards and 18 touchdowns, averaging 7.2 yards per rush attempt. He also completed 10 passes for 235 yards and two more scores.

DEFENSE

DL – Joe Gaziano, Sr., Xaverian
Gaziano was named this year’s ESPN Boston Mr. Football after turning in another dominant season for the Hawks, who captured the D1 state title and went wire to wire as the No. 1 team in Massachusetts. Despite facing double teams and being schemed away from all year, Gaziano still ended up with 60 tackles (22 for loss) and 16 sacks, giving him 28 sacks over the last two seasons. Next year, Gaziano will continue his career at Northwestern University.

DL – Derek Child, Sr., Needham
The Bryant University commit was a handful for offensive linemen, totaling 51 tackles on the season while customarily demanding double-teams. Child was credited with eight tackles for loss, including three sacks and even tallied an interception while notching two pass breakups at the line of scrimmage.

DL – Sean McKeon, Jr., Shepherd Hill
The 6-foot-5, 220-pounder was one half of one of the most dangerous defensive end tandems in the state, as the Rams won the D4 Central title. On the season he recorded 57 tackles (11 for loss) and 7.5 sacks. On offense as a tight end, McKeon accounted for more than half of the Rams’ receiving totals, with 19 catches for 354 yards and three touchdowns.

DL – Cole Morrison, Jr., Wahconah
The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Morrison anchored the Warriors defensively to the D4 State Final, their second appearance at Gillette Stadium in three years. On the year he recorded 53 tackles and four sacks from the defensive end spot; as a tight end on offense, Morrison caught 17 passes for 294 yards and four touchdowns. Morrison is receiving varied interest from local Division 1 schools, most notably UMass and UConn.

LB – Mark Glebus, Sr., King Philip
The Hockomock League Kelley-Rex division MVP was a two-standout throughout his career at KP. On offense, the running back tallied 209 carries for 1,517 yards to go along with a league-leading 21 rushing touchdowns. At defensive back, Glebus recorded 37 tackles along with a sack, while leading the Warriors with two interceptions.

LB – Noah Sorrento, Sr., Xaverian
The two-way starter left an indelible memory in his final high school game, rushing for four touchdowns in the Hawks' Division 1 state championship win over Everett. The outside linebacker racked up 39 tackles (26 solo), along with five tackles for loss and three sacks on the year. From his half back position, Sorrento ran for 1,260 yards with 29 rushing touchdowns on 181 carries. He also hauled in a receiving touchdown.

LB – Nicolau Coury, Sr., Lowell
The quarterback of the Red Raiders' defense, Coury was a feared pass-rusher and playmaker. A native of Brazil who didn't play American football until the age of 12, the two-time MVC Division 1 All-Conference selection holds an offer from Central Connecticut State but has also attracted the attention of Ivy League schools after an 11.5-sack season in 2013.

LB – Danny Dalton, Jr., Marshfield
Dalton is an imposing force at 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, and it made all the difference as the Rams ran away with the Division 2 state title. Lining up primarily off the edge as an outside linebacker, Dalton recorded 49 tackles, four sacks and three interceptions. Offensively as a tight end, he led the Rams in every major receiving category, with 56 catches for 765 yards and nine touchdowns.

LB – Kenny Kern, Sr., Xaverian
A two-way standout for the Division 1 state champions, Kern totaled 31 solo tackles from his inside linebacker position, including 6.5 tackles for loss and a sack. A bruising fullback, Kern also tallied 12 rushing touchdowns on 96 carries with 553 yards.

LB – James Sullivan, Sr., Tewksbury
The Redmen came up short in their Division 3 State Championship defense, but still demonstrated some very physical play on both sides of the ball with Sullivan leading the way. He was a four-year starter and won 36 games with the varsity, including two Super Bowl appearances and two D3 Northeast titles. For his career he has scored 53 touchdowns, 3,300 yards rushing, 10 interceptions and over 250 tackles. This season he rushed for 6.8 yards per carry and 18 touchdowns. A number of local schools have shown interest in Sullivan to this point, most notably Holy Cross, New Hampshire, Maine and Sacred Heart.

DB – Lukas Denis, Sr., Everett
The 5-foot-11, 180-pound Denis dominated in all three phases of the game like few Crimson Tide greats have done in recent years, earning ESPN Boston Defensive Player of the Year honors in the process. Overall, he totaled 17 touchdowns. On defense, he recorded 52 tackles, two forced fumbles and eight interceptions – three of which were returned for scores. Next year, Denis will continue his career at Boston College, becoming the fourth Tide defensive back in eight years to join the Eagles.

DB – Michael Dunn, Sr., Dennis-Yarmouth
A man of all trades during his career with the Dolphins, Dunn stepped in at quarterback this year for Coach Paul Funk while contributing shut-down pass defense as a defensive back. As a defensive back, Dunn tallied 65 tackles with three sacks, two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. He also picked off two passes in 2014 to round out his career with six interceptions. Dunn surpassed the 2,000-yard all-purpose yard mark, throwing for 1,060 yards and eight touchdowns while running for 1,335 yards and 21 touchdowns. He also added 195 receiving yards on 11 catches while flexed out of the backfield.

DB – Mike Balsamo, Sr., Central Catholic
A key contributor to the Raiders' 2013 Division 1 state championship, Balsamo was a consistent two-way performer as a four-year varsity starter. On defense, the UNH commit tallied 62 tackles from his safety position while registering 13 pass breakups. Balsamo had 13 interceptions for his career. On offense, he ran for 331 yards on 56 carries, while catching 15 passes last year for 198 yards and nine total touchdowns. As Cental's kick returner, Balsamo posted an impressive 36.8 yards average on the year.

DB – Damion Wood, Sr., Xaverian
A starter for more than two season on the Hawks' defense, Wood contributed 33 tackles (28 solo) from his safety position, along with three tackles for loss and a pair of interceptions. The Coastal Carolina commit was also an integral part of Xaverian's passing game, hauling in four touchdown receptions on just eight catches on the year for 125 yards.

RET – Cliff Kurker, Sr., Needham
During his Rockets career, Kurker was a dangerous playmaker on special teams, turning in highlight reel punt returns for touchdowns that twice were featured on SportsCenter's "Top 10 Plays" segment. As a wide receiver, Kurker made 18 catches for 491 yards and six touchdowns. In the return game, he totaled 460 combined yards with five touchdowns returning kickoffs and punts.
Tags:

Football

Recap: Poly Prep (N.Y.) 66, Brighton 63

December, 20, 2014
Dec 20
7:38
PM ET
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Brighton had little recovery time after an emotional, come-from-behind win over rival East Boston on Friday night. The Bengals trailed by 17 at one point in that game, but overcame the deficit to capture a 63-55 win over the Jets

Today, Brighton rode that momentum down the Mass Pike into the early moments of its matinee showdown with Poly Prep (N.Y.) in the annual BasketBull Hoops Fest at Western New England University.

“I like to go with the approach that when you win, it’s good and when you lose it’s still a win because you get to learn.” Brighton head coach Hugh Coleman said. “I think this was a winnable game for us. We were coming off a tough evening against East Boston, a hard-fought game, so it looked like our legs were gone. However, it’s good to test our reserve, and how much we can fight.”

The Bengals jumped out to a 7-2 lead, but hot 3-point shooting and second-half execution from Poly Prep handed Brighton a 66-63 loss, the first of the season for the Bengals.

The Blue Devils took the lead for the first time with two minutes to go in the first quarter, and never relinquished it. However, the door was left open on several occasions for Brighton (3-1) to reclaim the lead.

Jason Jones’ bucket and the harm cut the lead to 63-62 with 45.3 seconds remaining. Poly Prep forward Najee Taylor responded with 1-of-2 free throws. On the ensuing play, Jordan Galloway was fouled, and he too split a pair of foul shots. After Poly Prep center David Dixon connected on a pair of free throws with 5.8 seconds left, Brighton had one last opportunity, although, on-the-ball pressure from point guard JD Levine and help defenses from Griffin Walsh kept Brighton from getting a shot off in time.

Brighton forced several turnovers in the opening moments of the cap, sparking the early start, capped by a Tyrone Perry 3-pointer. From there, Poly Prep controlled the tempo of the game, as Levine, the diminutive point guard began to free teammates open for open 3-point looks.

The Blue Devils committed eight turnovers at half (five from Levine), but those miscues were negated by eight 3-point field goals.

“It was crucial, we were sort of lucky that we shot so well in the first half,” Poly Prep head coach Ben Kettering said. “It was guys making plays, which made up for turnovers and giving up offensive rebounds. The fact that we shot so well was integral to use gaining a lead and holding on to it.”

Poly Prep never had a lead larger than eight in the second half, but fended off Brighton time after time, countering every threat.

Putting Brighton senior Dexter Andrews on Levine forced the pace of the game to speed up, something Poly Prep didn’t want to have happen. However, this allowed the game to be played through the post, allowing Najee Taylor, the 6-foot-5 big-bodied, to take over. Taylor was able to step away and make plays from the high post — hitting elbow jump shots, putting the ball on the deck and getting to the foul line and making passes in the high-low.

“Early on, we played a lot more help defense, figuring we were going to keep the team out the paint,” Coleman said. “We found out they could really shoot the ball, so in the second half we wanted to apply more pressure and force them to drive.

“He (Taylor proved to be a little crafty. He was tough because he was able to step out, then he showed he could take the ball to the basket, get fouled and get to the line.”

Taylor scored a game-high 19 points, going 10-of-12 from the line, to go along with six rebounds. Levine had 14 points and Walsh added 11, the two guards combining for six of Poly Prep’s nine 3-pointers.

Brighton was led by Jones with 14 points and nine boards. Perry added 13 points and Galloway chipped in a dozen.

Brighton, the road warriors, have a Tuesday night contest at Brockton.

The takeaway from an independent game: Saturday evening’s loss to Poly Prep essentially means nothing.

Yes, it’s a tally in the loss column, but the Bengals won’t see Poly Prep in league play, nor in the state tournament. A team of 12 juniors and seniors, the Blue Devils served as another tough test for Brighton early in the season.

The Bengals dealt with a team that executed well in the half-court set, and wasn’t fazed by their superior athleticism and speed. Toward the end of the game Coleman made a considerable number of substitutions, looking for the right unit to close out the game.

“I was trying to find a good mix,” he said. “I was trying to find a spark, a combination of guys who could have our defense create our offense. Going half court now with a newer, young team is a little challenging. We have to get guys more acquainted and get a better feel at this level. We have a lot of freshmen and sophomores playing important minutes.”

The Bengals forced double the turnovers (16) than they committed (8), had more points in the paint, off the bench and off turnovers, but still left with a loss. An area where Brighton struggled was from the foul line, where the team was 14-of-24.

“You know, it’s interesting. Guys weren’t doing too bad,” Coleman said. “One guy was 2-for-3, another guy was 3-for-4, another guy was 5-for-7. So we’re our percentage isn’t too bad, but it adds up in the end. And the misses crucial. we’re down two (64-62) and Jordan Galloway misses the first of two, which puts us in a more difficult position.”

Front-loading the schedule: On the road at East Boston, a neutral site game against Poly Prep and a Tuesday night showdown in Brockton. That’s an intense five-day span for a young Brighton team. But it’s all part of a calculated move by Coleman.

“I’m enjoying it being a difficult schedule in the beginning because it’s going to allow us to grow and mature a little faster, so that’s going to prove crucial in the middle of the season when we play our rivals again and then it will have us a little more prepared come state tournament time,” he said.”

“So, I’m OK with loading the schedule up in the front, and I hope it pays dividends in the end.”

Saturday’s game offered another early-season test, it won’t be until March until we find out if Brighton is prepared for the final exam.
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