DANVERS, Mass. -– Tied at 16 after the opening quarter and struggling offensively against No. 6 BC High’s aggressive zone defense, No. 17 St. John’s Prep needed a spark and someone to take over the game.
Sophomore guard Ben Judson stepped up and provided the lift they needed, scoring eight of his game-high 20 points in the second quarter, leading the Prep (8-0) to a 67-58 triumph over BC High (4-2) in both teams’ Catholic Conference opener.
“I went into the gym earlier and just shot,” Judson said. “Once in the game I just shot when I was open, I didn’t force anything. I was trying to get my teammates shots too and look for them, not just myself.”
Of Judson’s 20 points, 13 came from behind the arc, including a four-point play late in the first quarter. The 6-foot-4 guard hasn’t taken many shots this season, but once he gets going he can get hot in a hurry with a beautiful left-handed stroke.
“I haven’t really shot as much, but once I get my shot going I can be a streaky shooter,” the humble Judson said.
The first quarter was sloppy for both teams as they struggled offensively, but after the opening eight minutes Prep pulled away, outscoring BC High 20-6 in the second quarter. They used aggressive defense to get steals and then attacked the zone offensively to take a commanding 36-22 lead into the locker room.
“I think we were real tentative in the beginning throwing the ball all over the place,” Prep coach Sean Connolly said. “I think we started the game with three straight turnovers.”
Prep knew BC High would be attacking them with zone defenses -– it was just a matter of breaking them.
“We were coming into the game trying to break their zones, since they have a few different ones,” Judson said. “On the offensive end we just tried to find the gaps as much as we could. We needed to stay strong the entire game and not fall for their pressure and that’s what we did, staying patient and finding the open man.”
The action picked up in the second half with both teams raising their intensity levels, but the Prep continued to maintain their lead, leading 53-36 after three.
BC High was able to mount a come back in the fourth quarter, cutting the deficit to as little as eight with less than two minutes to go, but the Prep made six-of-nine free throws in the quarter to hold on for the win.
Senior Charles Collins led BC High with 16 points, which had two other players reaching double figures as Jameilen Jones added 14 and Steve Young finished with 13.
Although St. John’s Prep senior point guard Tyler Dooley finished with just six points, he had a very solid game running the show for the Eagles as he was able to find the open man all night long.
“He is the guy that makes us go, he is a very good point guard,” Connolly said. “Without him we really don’t have a point guard who can bring the ball up, so he is a big key to our success.”
Senior Drex Costello, who came into the game leading the Prep in scoring, finished with 15 points.
This was the opening game for both teams in the Catholic Conference where teams know it is going to be a battle game in and game out. Despite jumping out to an 8-0 start, Connolly wants his Eagles to just take it one game at a time.
“It’s just one game at a time for us, these guys have been working hard all year for us,” said Connolly, the former Providence and Ohio State standout. “They are a great team to coach, they come to work everyday and keep getting better. I am very pleased with the way they are playing so far.”
OFFSETTING BC HIGH’S SIZE
Coming into the game St. John’s Prep knew it would be a battle going up against the height of BC High as they start two players at 6-foot-5 and another at 6-foot-4. The Eagles needed a way to make up for their lack of size compared to BC High.
“We used our quickness and wanted to move the ball on offense making it tough for them to cover,” Connolly said.
The Prep’s guards ability to penetrate to the basket, drawing BC High defenders, allowed for big men junior Max Butterbrodt and sophomore Jake Burt to get easy layups, finishing with five and four points respectively.
Prep also did an outstanding job of boxing out, as they were able to control the glass the majority of the game.