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Friday, March 9, 2012
Div. 4 Boys: St. Mary's (Lynn) 62, Pope John 39

By Tom Layman

BOSTON — In the game of basketball, sometimes it’s not the amount of talent that a high school team can pump out on the floor at any one given moment that makes all the difference in a big spot.

Sometimes it’s just being there for one another and knowing exactly what the other teammate is thinking or feeling at any given moment.

Nick Gagliolo knows his St. Mary’s (Lynn) Spartans (19-4) have that bond to fight through any kind of adversity, and even though there wasn’t much of it in a 62-39 victory over Pope John XXIII (19-4) in the Div. 4 North finals on Friday night, the togetherness of the team has be there all season long.

“We’ve had an unbelievable season so far and obviously we have one more big game to go,” said Gagliolo, who scored 20 points. “We’ve been working together as a team all year. There hasn’t been one fight between individuals on the team. Our team chemistry has been unbelievable.”

The bond has gone way beyond high school, as Gagliolo said the basketball roots of this team go back to when each player could begin to dribble a basketball.

“We’ve been playing together forever now,” said Gagliolo. “There’s a group of us, probably like six or seven of us, who have been playing together since we were five years old, so that’s big. We know that everyone has each other’s back.”

Duo Shows Off: Gagliolo was talking about the whole team when he spoke of that togetherness, but really it could have been whittled down to the play of he and Devin Thompson. Thompson (18 points) and Gagliolo have been the catalysts for the Spartans this season.

“Our games compliment one another,” said Thompson. “He gets to the rim, drives in and he can kick it to me and I can hit 3s. I get to him and he can score. Then we have pieces all over the floor, so you can’t focus on just one person.”

Kevin Moran has leaned heavily on Gagliolo and Thompson to provide the lion’s share of the offense, and the Spartans’ duo accounted for more than half of the output much like their win in the semi-finals over Manchester-Essex.

“It’s really a testament to those two leaders and those guys have been driving us offensively for a long time,” said Moran. “Their effort came a long way to getting us hear tonight.”

Thurman Back and Healthy: Randolf Thurman banged up his shoulder in a late nonleague game against St. John’s Prep and he didn’t play in the loss to Cathedral — a team the Spartans will meet on the Garden floor on Monday — which could have won the Catholic Central League on the final day of the regular season.

The point guard responsibilities were left in the hands of Thompson and Gagliolo, and the offense was stagnant at times.

With a healthy Thurman back in the lineup, the two wings have been able to return to the their comfort zone and form a potent offense with many weapons to account for.

Thurman talked about his road back to playing.

“It took about a week and a half,” he said. “I had to stay out because of my shoulder. I had to go to the orthopedic doctor. After school I’ve been going to the trainer and getting my strength back up.”

Thurman showed off his importance to the offense and the defense as he got players in the right position and spearheaded a defensive effort on Malcolm Brown to hold him to 13 points with just three made baskets from the field.

“They don’t have to bring it up all the time and I can create for them,” said Thurman.

“It’s huge,” added Thompson. “It’s tough playing without a point guard. When you have a true point guard on the floor he’s out there looking for everybody. Not even just on the offenseive end. On the defensive end he can get up and pressure the other guard and get them tired and get them out of the flow of their offense.”