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Monday, February 25, 2013
Bracket Breakdown: Central Sectionals

By Chris Bradley

Here is our breakdown of the MIAA boys basketball tournament's Central Sectionals. Contributing picks are ESPN Boston High Schools editor Brendan Hall, and correspondents Jimmy Kelley and Josh Perry.

DIVISION 1 CENTRAL
Favorites: Algonquin (19-1), Wachusett (17-3), St. John’s of Shrewsbury (14-6)
Contenders: Doherty (12-6), Worcester South (14-6), St. Peter-Marian (17-2), Milford (17-3)
Sleepers: Fitchburg (12-8), Burncoat (12-8)
Overview: Bob Foley’s Pioneers have won the Central Mass. championship for five consecutive years, but several notable suitors have lined up to knock of St. John’s in this year’s tournament. Top-seeded Algonquin beat the Pioneers last Thursday in a 59-58 overtime thriller, while Wachusett, who split their season-series with Algonquin, beat St. John’s in both meetings this season behind a couple of standout performance from senior Zack Berman. South looked like the favorite a few weeks ago, senior guard Rod Milton led the Colonels to a couple of big wins over St. John’s and Wachusett, but South has been on a tailspin of sorts since then—losing four of their last six games. Third-seeded Milford shouldn’t be taken lightly either after proving they are one of the best teams in the Hockomock League, while seventh-seeded Doherty is coming off a Worcester City Championship title this past week.
Hall’s Upset Special: Fitchburg over Shepherd Hill
Bradley’s Upset Special: Worcester South over Milford
Kelley’s Upset Special: St. John’s over Algonquin

Breakout Tournament Star:
Brendan Hall: A.J. Brodeur, Soph. F, Algonquin
Chris Bradley: Tyler Dion, Fr. G, Wachusett
Josh Perry: Michael Stamas, Soph. G, Algonquin
Jimmy Kelley: Davon Jones, Soph. G, St. John's

Pick a winner:
Hall: Wachusett over St. John’s
Bradley: Wachusett over St. John's
Perry: Wachusett over Algonquin
Kelley: Wachusett over St. John's

***

DIVISION 2 CENTRAL
Favorites: St. Bernard’s (16-4), Clinton (19-1)
Contenders: Nashoba (12-8), Quabbin (12-8), Northbridge (15-5), Oxford (13-7), Auburn (13-7)
Sleepers: Bartlett (13-7), Uxbridge (13-7)
Overview: St. Bernard’s has been the favorite from the get-go this season, and little has changed since then. Bernardians guard John Crawley has proven that he is one of the better scorers in the area, while strong guard play and consistent rebounding has kept St. Bernard’s as the favorite. Top-seeded Clinton had a phenomenal regular season, going 19-1, but did so against relatively poor competition in Mid Wach C—the Gaels are coming off a close overtime loss to Quabbin at the Clark Tournament. Quabbin, whose expectations were unclear after graduating Christian Horton, made a run all the way to the Clark Tournament Large School Finals, where they lost to fifth-seeded Auburn in overtime.
Hall’s Upset Special: Nashoba over Quabbin
Bradley’s Upset Special: Quabbin over Clinton

Breakout Tournament Star:
Hall: John Crawley, Sr. G, St. Bernard's
Bradley: Antonio Beccerill, Soph. G, Northbridge

Pick a winner:
Hall: St. Bernard’s over Clinton
Bradley: St. Bernard’s over Quabbin

***

DIVISION 3 CENTRAL
Favorites: Whitinsville Christian (17-2)
Contenders: Quaboag (17-3), Worcester Tech (16-4), Littleton (20-1)
Sleepers: Maynard (15-5), Hopedale (15-5)
Overview: Whitinsville Christian has exceeded expectations this year after point guard Colin Richey left for prep school, and now the Crusaders have emerged as the definite favorite in this bracket -- with signature wins this season over Hopedale, St. Bernard’s, Charlestown, and St. Peter-Marian. Littleton had few challenges over the course of the regular season, but proved its worth this past week -- winning the Clark Tournament Small School title behind high-scoring guard Chris Murray, with wins over Quaboag and Hopedale. Quaboag and Hopedale both have dangerous inside-out duos, the Cougars with Thomas Jankins and sophomore Jake Wisniewski, and the Blue Raiders with seniors Evan Lerner and Jeremy Bacon—which could make them potential picks to make a run.
Hall’s Upset Special: Bay Path over South Lancaster
Bradley’s Upset Special: Hopedale over Worcester Tech

Breakout Tournament Star:
Hall: Tim Dufficy, Sr. G, Whitinsville Christian
Bradley: Jake Wisniewski, Soph. F, Quaboag

Pick a winner:
Hall: Whitinsville Christian over Littleton
Bradley: Whitinsville Christian over Littleton