Here are our top three predictions for high school sports in the new year:
1. Some will complain, but the Super 8 baseball tournament will be a home run: The MIAA baseball state championships are some of the most sparsely-attending state title games the Bay State has to offer. Last year’s approval by the state baseball coaches association to implement a double-elimination Division 1A “Super 8” tournament, similar to the popular hockey tournament, was viewed by many as a much-needed shot in the arm for the sport. With such great parity across the state, selecting the top eight teams will be a daunting task that will be sure to leave more than a few folks disappointed. But the tournament format, with its College World Series-like feel, should generate plenty of excitement for the sport.
2. Putnam will repeat as Division 1 basketball state champions: Western Mass has never had three straight Division 1 state champs, and no team has gone back-to-back at the MIAA’s highest level of competition since Newton North’s star-studded backcourt of Anthony Gurley and Corey Lowe led the Tigers in 2005-06. But frankly, if defending D1 state champ Putnam doesn’t repeat in 2014, it will be a disappointment. The Beavers graduated just one player, All-State forward Kayjuan Bynum, from it state title-winning squad of 2012-13, and added four transfers over the summer. One of those transfers -- sophomore Tyonne Malone -- already holds Division 1 offers, and has not disappointed yet in a Putnam uniform. The Beavers are playing the state’s best defense right now, and they’re doing it all without returning All-State forward David Murrell, who is recovering from an ankle injury. In fact, they just rallied in overtime to beat a team from Brooklyn that features two Division 1 commits in its starting lineup. The fact that they’re dominating like this without a full cast is all you need to know.
3. Malden Catholic will wins its fourth straight Super 8 title: The Lancers entered the 2013-14 season as the No. 2 team in our Top 25 poll behind top-ranked Austin Prep. The Cougars and MC faced off at the Garden in last year's title tilt, and we expect nothing short of a rematch this year, but in that matchup, we expect experience to win out, with the Lancers on an historically dominant run.
Check out ESPN Boston's 14 predictions for 2014 by CLICKING HERE.