HOLYOKE, Mass. -- Catholic Memorial used a series of runs throughout Sunday’s game to take control against St. Raphael (R.I.) and put it out of reach, en route to an 87-46 victory in Day 4 at the BasketBull Hoops Fest at Holyoke Community College.
The most important run of the game happened at the start of the second half with the No. 13 CM(4-0) leading 42-25. The Knights forced three St. Raphael (4-1) turnovers, including back-to-back steals and finishes by senior guard Pat Hurley, to spark an 11-0 run, taking a commanding 56-25 lead.
“St. Raphael is a good team and I know they were capable of making three’s in bunches,” CM head coach Denis Tobin said. “We stressed at the half that we wanted to extend it and put them away, so if they did hit a couple of three’s we would have enough of a cushion.”
Tobin was right about the Saints, they could get hot from behind the arc and they did. Following the run, St. Raphael connected on three consecutive 3-pointers – from Graham Lynch, John Conney, and Charles Correa – to cut the lead to 56-34. The Saints shot 9 of 24 from deep on Sunday.
“At that point, by the 11-0 start, we were OK,” Tobin said.
That was the only run the Saints would get on the day. The Knights controlled the glass, outrebounding the Saints 25-16, while forcing 16 turnovers in the game.
“The energy off the bench really helped us,” sophomore guard Gullien Smith said. “Our defense really picked up, we closed out on the shooter really well.”
Catholic Memorial started the game with a 7-0 run led by the senior backcourt of Hurley and D.J. McClure. Against the zone defense to start the game Hurley found McClure for a 3-pointer from the wing to start the game. Hurley would make a pair of free throws and a layup, before hitting McClure on a fast break lay-in, forcing St. Raphael (4-1) to call a timeout.
The Knights built a double-digit lead with a 6-0 run late in the first quarter to take a 10-point advantage into the second quarter. With the Saints threatening to cut the lead to single-digits heading into halftime, the Knights put together another 7-0 run to close out the half leading by 17.
“It’s a big court up here,” Tobin said. “The whole plan was to run bodies at them. Pressure them both defensively and then make them run back in transition and hopefully wear them down.”
Smith led CM with 16 points, four assists and three rebounds. Hurley was solid all-around with 12 points, four assists, four steals, and two rebounds, while Gerard Adams chipped in 12 points as well, to go along with nine rebounds.
St. Raphael was led by an injured Correa, who had 13 points, five assists, and three steals. Conney led the Saints in scoring with 16 points, including four 3-pointers.
“We caught a break with Charles [Correa] playing with one hand; his weak hand,” Tobin said. “But we’ll take it. I think it’s the best we’ve played this season.”
Correa, one of the top players in Rhode Island, was held to just 13 points. It seems like a good defensive performance on paper, keeping a dynamic scorer like that in check. However, Correa was playing with an injured right hand – his shooting hand – forcing him to play the entire game with basically one hand.
“I still have a good left hand,” Correa said. “I couldn’t let my team down. If we were going to lose, we were going to lose together.”
After the game Correa said he had never shot left-handed before. He mentioned a game back in 2005 when then Indiana Pacer Jermaine O’Neal hurt his elbow on a foul from Denver Nuggets center Francisco Elson. O’Neal went to the line and was forced to shoot his free throws left handed.
“He’s just an unbelievable athlete. He hurt it the other night in the game,” St. Raphael head coach Thomas Sorrentine said. “He could really only go left, so we set him up to go left. He gave us everything he had out there. Obviously he wasn’t 100 percent.”
Correa was still able to be effective. He was second on the team in scoring with 13 points, he had five assists and came away with three steals in 26 minutes of action. With just his left hand he was still tough to guard, finding his way into the lane.
In the second quarter he knocked down back-to-back left-handed 3-pointers – he had three on the day – to go along with two other lefty layups in the second half.
“That’s very courageous of him. A non-league day, out of state, it’s very impressive,” Tobin added. “Left-handed, he’s still very, very good.”
Correa injured his right hand two days earlier in a win against Mount Pleasant. The right hand was completely wrapped and as he iced it after the game, the area around his pinky was still swollen. Sorrentine said they will have the an X-ray of Correa’s hand soon.
“I couldn’t handle the ball with my right hand,” said Correa. “I had to keep going back to my left.”
CATHOLIC MEMORIAL'S BALANCED ATTACK
This year is different for Tobin. He doesn’t have a consistent scorer every night, but he does have multiple players he can rely on game in and game out.
“We’re not like past teams, where we’ve had big go-to guys,” he said. “On any given night we have four or five guys capable of scoring 12-15 points.
“I’m very impressed with our unselfishness as well. Everybody’s willing to share the ball. We’ve all bought into the team concept.”
In Sunday’s win, six players scored eight or more points, 10 players came away with at least one rebound and seven players recorded two or more assists. The team was also solid defensive team in both the full court pressure and well as in the half court set.
The five starters –Hurley, McClure, Smith, Adams, and John McDonough – all contributed in different areas, while Kevin Claflin and Rich Lopez provided a lift off the bench.
“No one is selfish on this team,” Smith said. “No one is trying to go out and score 20, we just want to win.”
The undefeated Knights have a few days off before heading to Newton as part of a Christmas tournament with Newton North, Newton South, and Lexington.
“We’ve been there for four or five years and we haven’t won it yet,” Tobin said. “We’d like to take care of that.”
“We have another non-leaguer with Woburn on Jan. 2 and then the rest of the month of January is the league and that’s what we’re looking forward to.”