Boston High School: Alain Jeanty

No. 4 Cambridge shakes off Everett

January, 29, 2011
EVERETT, Mass. -- Despite averaging 87 points and defeating its opponents by over 30 in each of its last two games, Cambridge entered halftime in a relatively unfamiliar situation; losing by two and totaling 16 points in the first two periods.

“It showed mentally what we didn’t have in the first quarter,” Falcons guard Kyroe Qualls-Betts said. “[We] weren’t mentally prepared.”

The second half proved far more habitual for the Falcons, whose stifling defense -- eight steals, six blocks -- limited Everett to 12 points in the third and fourth frames, while dropping 20 fourth-quarter points en route to a 48-31 victory that keeps them undefeated on the season at 10-0.

“Overall, it was a great defensive effort in the second half,” said Cambridge head coach Lance Dottin, whose team forced 17 turnovers in the contest. “And it changed the game. It changed the entire complexion of the game for us.”

What became clear in the second half was the Falcons’ renewed toughness on the defensive end, particular on the interior. Sophomore phenom Jacquil Taylor (seven points, nine rebounds, three blocks, three steals) continually affected basket attempts around the cylinder.

“Defensively, it makes a huge difference when you’ve got Jacquil [Taylor] on the back side,” Dottin said. “Because even if you get beat, you’ve got someone behind you that can change some shots, that can block some shots. He’s a special player, very special.”

Alongside Taylor, fellow big men Maurice Taylor (six points, four rebounds) and Marcus Faison (four points, five rebounds) also disabled easy penetration for the Crimson Tide (7-4), who shot 36 percent from the field.

After a relatively back-and-forth first half, Cambridge outscored Everett, 12-3, in the third quarter, despite committing nine fouls. However, Everett squandered on chances to cut the deficit, clanking all three front ends of one-and-one opportunities from the line in the quarter,

Early in the final stanza, the Falcons swelled the lead to 30-21, before the Crimson Tide orchestrated a quick 4-0 run, culminating in a steal and explosive one-handed, fast break dunk by Alain Jeanty (12 points, seven rebounds), his second “steal-to-slam” of the contest.

Alas, that would be the closest the home squad would come.

In rebuttal, the Falcons countered with a 13-2 run of its own, highlighted by a smooth trey-ball from the senior swingman Qualls-Betts (nine points, seven rebounds, two assists) with 4:30 to play.

“We did move the ball a lot better in the second half,” Dottin said. “We tried to get Kyroe more involved on the perimeter.”

Finding a way to navigate through and around Everett’s hybrid 2-3 zone—often times double-teaming and overcompensating on the low-block—became easier with Jacquil Taylor as a target at the high post, Qualls-Betts said.

“The middle was open all night,” he said, “And there was one wing man popping out on the shooter, so we had to attack the middle and kick it from there to the other side. They [were] double-teaming Jacquil [Taylor] … so it just gave spacing for us on the floor to get more shots.”

On the night, Cambridge’ shot 42 percent from the floor. However, forward Deondre Starling (12 points, six rebounds, two steals) served as somewhat of an anomaly, making all six of his field goal attempts, including five in the second half.

Likewise, Everett had its bright points. To go along with Jeanty’s team-high in scoring, point guard Kenny Calaj collected 11 points and a couple dimes, while being a pesky on-ball defender, registering three steals. Senior Erno Deshommes was also impactful on the glass, swiping a game-high 11 rebounds.

And as the old adage goes, it may not be pretty, but a win is a win, which was exactly Cambridge’s mindset leaving the gym, Dottin said.

“We needed the win,” he said. [We got] off to a bad start, but as long as we’re able to get the victory. It’s a [Greater Boston League] victory, so that’s important for us.”

No. 5 Cambridge cruises through No. 21 Everett

January, 12, 2011

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Fifteen points, fifteen rebounds, five well-timed blocks, no matter. The countenance doesn't lie.

And Jacquil Taylor was visibly thwarted as he left the locker room following his No. 5 Cambridge Falcons' all-too-easy 60-44 win over their Greater Boston League nemesis, No. 21 Everett. It was a sloppy night, but one that started on a very high note for his teammates (a game-opening 12-4 run yielded a 32-18 halftime lead) and a very low one for him. The 6-foot-8 sophomore finished strong, and as usual made some highlight-reel dunks to spark the Falcons (7-0), but started the night off 0 for 6.

Not a totally disappointing night -- "We got the win, but we need to make some corrections," he shrugged -- but frustrating?

"Yeah, and it was very bad in my case," Taylor said. "I'd rather start the game off making all six shots instead of missing them. Going 0 for 6, to me that's bad."

Meanwhile, across the hallway, Cambridge head coach Lance Dottin was taking deep breaths and shaking his head about some other perceived deficiencies in the win. Namely, the Crimson Tide (5-1) threw 2-3 zone looks at the Falcons for extended periods of time, especially in the second half, doubling down on Taylor in the post with its long, lean tandem of senior Erno Deshommes and junior Alain Jeanty (13 points, 14 rebounds).

That left junior Maurice Taylor and seniors Kyroe Qualls-Betts and Andre Dottin with a slew of open looks on the perimeter, ones they did not convert into buckets. Overall, the Falcons shot 38 percent from the field, and were 2 of 24 from three-point range.

"There were alot of open shots, and you've got to knock them down when you're open," Dottin said. "I thought we did a poor job of moving the basketball, getting stuck on one side of the floor, but that's what happens when you're settling for shots -- you know, that first pass. We've gotta get out of that first pass syndrome, and we've got to get that ball moving and attacking the zone a whole lot better.

"We'll do that, we'll keep practicing, so we're gonna just get back to work. We're happy with the win, GBL, so we'll just make sure that we've got to work on those things."

But a win -- and a double-digit one over an ESPNBoston MIAA Top 25 team at that -- is a win. And the Falcons proved once again to be special when given the opportunity to push the tempo. Deondre Starling (15 points, 11 rebounds) capped a game-opening 12-4 run for Cambridge with a steal at the right wing and driving layup, after which Everett head coach Bippy Manuel first called for the zone.

The Falcons opened the second quarter with a 10-0 run to push out to a 22-7 lead, highlighted by the first of several explosive dunks by Jacquil Taylor. Jacquil took a long outlet pass from his brother down the left flank, gathered and slammed the ball home with two hands. They followed up on the next possession with Marcus Faison (11 points) converting a three-point play for a 15-point lead with five minutes left in the first half.

Minutes later, with Cambridge holding a 26-10 lead, Jeanty racked up his second foul, and that gave way to another Jacquil Taylor dunk with just over a minute to go in the first half. This time, it was a two-handed tip-slam off an errant three-pointer from Tyrone Dacosta to make it 30-18.

"It's like an energy boost," Starling said of Jacquil Taylor's dunks. "It gives everyone momentum. Everyone gets hyped up, the crowd goes wild, we get hyper, it gets us back to reality, knowing where we're at right now."

Starling, meanwhile, might have been the star of the night. In addition to the presence his lanky 6-foot-4 frame made around the rim at both ends, he was tasked with manning up the Tide's best playmaking guard, Manny Asprilla (13 points). The senior, who is committed to Boston College for football, made some terrific drives through the lane and connected well with his post players, but in spurts. Meanwhile Matt Costello, making his season debut after battling an ankle injury the first month, was held without a point in seven attempts from the field.

"He's always big. I mean, Deondre's big, he's a fabulous player," Dottin said. "He can do so many different things. He can rebound on both ends of the floor, he's great off the offensive glass, but he's even better on the defensive glass. And then, Deondre can pretty much cover anyone we ask him to cover. And tonight we really needed him to pressure the ball, and get on Manny, and that's what he did. That's what Deondre does, he's kind of Mr. Everything."

BABC: Everett rules the frontcourt

December, 29, 2010
CHELSEA, Mass. – Two big men are better than one.

While Haverhill’s Noah Vonleh might have been the marked man entering the Hillies’ BABC Holiday Classic tilt with Everett on Tuesday, it was the Crimson Tide’s bigs who carried the day. Senior captain Erno Deshommes and junior forward Alain Jeanty combined for more than half of Everett’s offensive output in a 61-44 win.

Deshommes led all scorers with 22, while Jeanty put in 15. However, it might have been the pair’s defensive mettle in containing the 6-foot-8 Vonleh on the post that was most crucial to the Crimson Tide.

“That was our game plan,” said Everett head coach Bippy Manuel, who is filling in this season for John DiBiaso (who’s in the shop attending to a couple of medical procedures). “When they went to the low post, we’d front [Vonleh] and double-team him from the back. We tried to bother him on every shot.”

Meanwhile, the Everett duo also created some early foul trouble for Vonleh, who spent a good portion of the second quarter on the bench. Without their shot-blocking presence inside, the Crimson Tide feasted early and often as Everett lead throughout the entirety of the game.

“Noah got in some foul trouble early, so it made them harder to defend,” Haverhill head coach Mike Trovato said. “But I don’t think we really came to play today. There were a lot of loose balls, a lot of things we could have cleaned up.”

Junior guard Edwin Valentin led Haverhill with 13 points while knocking down 3 of 4 from 3-point range.

Manuel was glad to see his team’s performance, considering he is without his best player, senior captain Matt Costello. The ESPN Boston Massachusetts Mr. Football honoree has been out since the first game of the basketball season with a high ankle sprain. Manuel said he hopes to have Costello back in the lineup in time for the Crimson Tide’s Greater Boston League battle with No. 10 Cambridge on Jan. 11.

But with Deshommes and Jeanty firing on all cylinders, there is some good news for the Tide.

“They complement each other well,” Manuel said of Deshommes and Jeanty. “They played together all of last year and through the summer. They know each other well, they worked well together, they look for each other. When one of them gets the double-team, they look for the other person. And they’ve played well for us in our first couple of games.”