Boston High School: Alex Fisher

Recap: No. 18 SPM 64, No. 7 St. John's (S) 57

January, 25, 2014
Jan 25
12:36
AM ET
WORCESTER, Mass. – Having lost five of its last six games going into Friday night’s showdown with Central Mass. Conference rival St. John’s, St. Peter-Marian had hopes that its brutally tough schedule the past couple weeks would benefit in the end.

On Friday the Guardians, led by sophomore phenom Makai Ashton-Langford’s 26 points, did what they were unable to do on the road against St. John’s (12-2) a few weeks ago -- put the Pioneers away in the closing minutes. The result, a 64-57 victory for the St. Peter-Marian (6-5).

St. Peter-Marian suffered a devastating loss on Jan. 7 against the Pioneers, blowing an 11-point lead with three minutes to go. As if SPM didn’t have reason enough to circle this game on their schedule, losing to St. John’s in dramatic fashion only added fuel to the fire.

“We were hungry for this game, we’d been looking forward to this game ever since we lost to them,” Ashton-Langford said. “After we lost to them the first time we kind of went into a little slump, we were just inexperienced down the stretch. With four minutes to go we gave up…we knew that couldn’t happen again.”

In the past few weeks the Guardians have played against some of the state’s best teams, including the heartbreaking loss to No. 24, St. John’s three weeks ago, as well as losses to No. 1 Putnam, No. 6 Catholic Memorial and No. 9 Cambridge.

Though a tough stretch for the Guardians, the schedule gave them an opportunity to come together and fix their mistakes in a hurry. Their coach has seen progress each game, yet every loss too was a fresh reminder that the young Guardians weren’t quite “there” yet.

“We had a five game stretch where we played one of the toughest schedules in Central Mass.," SPM coach Marcus Watson said. "Through those lumps and bumps and lessons, we learned. We learned last time against St. John’s with four minutes to go up 11, that we can give a game away. It was these kids learning, persevering, and coming together as a group.”

Brown, Sweeney bring the hustle: Seniors Connor Brown and Sean Sweeney brought just the mentality that Watson had been looking for against St. John’s. The two each made several hustle plays that eventually swung the score in the Guardians’ direction.

Sweeney helped set the tone early in the first half, first diving out of bounds to save a ball that would have otherwise resulted in a St. Peter-Marian turnover. Minutes later, it was Sweeney who dove on the floor to beat St. John’s point guard Davon Jones to a loose ball, drawing a roar from the Guardians’ fan section.

“We’ve talked about [hustle] from day one, but they’re the ones that have to go out and do it. Sean, to get on the floor for the loose ball and kick it up the court to someone else who got fouled—that’s tremendous,” Watson said.

Brown had plenty of hustle plays as well, on several occasions diving on the floor for the loose ball or jumping to save a ball that was bouncing out of bounds.

His biggest play came with about 45 seconds to go in the fourth quarter. Up 59-54, Brown pulled up for a jumper to beat the shotclock, then got into the lane to pick up his own rebound to reset the clock and give SPM an opportunity to burn even more time off the clock -- much to his coach’s delight.

“And again, those are all thing we learned through our five losses. The kids realize that every time we step on the floor we’re going to get the other team’s best shot,” Watson said. “We’ve learned from our mistakes. We run a lot of drills running out the clock and executing...We’ve really prepared, through our losses, how to deal with things.”

Murray cleans up the glass: The Guardians were able to keep St. John’s forwards Alex Fisher and Drew Vittum very quiet, but they couldn’t do the same to Charlie Murray. Finishing with 13 points and 13 rebounds, Murray proved to be one of the most impactful players on the floor, using his body to create space and finish through contact in the paint.

Sophomore Adham Floyd, who is still adding strength after seriously injuring his knee during last spring’s AAU season, had perhaps his best game of the season, knocking down two treys and backing up Murray with 13 points of his own.

“Give St. John’s credit, they’re not gonna’ roll over and die. We jokingly said you have to be up by 30 to win by two,” Watson said, “I have nothing but respect for that locker room and for Coach Foley and all he does for those kids. This is a great win, but it’s just another win, just another game for us.”

Recap: No. 10 St. John's (S) 68, No. 11 SPM 62

January, 8, 2014
Jan 8
12:51
AM ET
SHREWSBURY, Mass. -- When Davon Jones got fouled and fell hard on his elbow late in the fourth quarter, St. John’s (Shrewsbury) head coach Bob Foley asked his star point guard a question that the coach probably already knew the answer to.

“Davon, you OK?” Foley shouted from the end of the bench.

Wincing in pain and holding his elbow, Jones jumped up and waved off his coach — he wanted to be the one to shoot the free throws. He swooshed the first, then the second, giving the Pioneers their first lead of the second half, 64-62, with less than a minute to go in the game.

As an encore, he nailed two more from the charity stripe to put the game out of reach just moments later. Senior T.J. Kelley (14 points, 10 rebounds) sealed the deal by hitting two free throws of his own with 12 seconds left, giving the No. 10 Pioneers a 68-62 victory over rival No. 11 St. Peter-Marian in front of a standing-room only crowd.

The standout defensive back has taken plenty of hits in his career though, and for Jones the hard foul certainly wasn’t worse than some of the hits he’s taken on the gridiron.

“I’m fine," Jones said. "I play football, so I’m kind of used to it."

Jones is a rare breed in Foley’s system — a junior point guard who is also a three-year starter. An exceptional on-ball defender with lightning-quick bursts of speed with or without the ball, Jones’ poise and hard-nosed style of play gave Foley no choice but to put him in the starting lineup nearly from the time he arrived at St. John’s.

“He’s such a tough kid that he banged it really good and I was all set to send a sub in … and he just goes ‘No, no, no,'" Foley said. "It’s great to have tough kids."

The Pioneers’ comeback was one that will be talked about for a long time.

When St. Peter-Marian coach Marcus Watson called timeout with 3:23 left in the game, the Guardians (4-2) led St. John’s, 62-51. Despite the eleven-point deficit, Foley encouraged his team to stay together and stick to their gameplan of putting ball pressure on SPM and get the ball inside the paint offensively.

“Coach Foley just told us to stay together," Jones said. "Whenever we listen to coach, good things happen. I just think we came out and said together that we’ll play defense, we’ll talk, and we just played together."

To little surprise, it was Jones (11 points) who helped set fire to the comeback. Shortly after the timeout, Jones drove into the paint and fed big man Alex Fisher (15 points) with a beautiful no-look pass, Fisher finished off the conventional three-point play after getting fouled. The next time down Jones did the exact same thing, this time feeding sophomore guard Nick Lukasevicz, who hit two free throws after getting fouled.

“The kid I thought did a great job tonight was Nick Lukasevicz — the sophomore who had barely even played in the game,” Foley said, “he played a couple minutes earlier, but he got in there and we feel like he’s a very steady kid who never turns the ball over. When he was in there we didn’t turn the ball over.”

The Pioneers (7-1) were able to capitalize on SPM’s inexperience down the stretch, putting a trap on their guards defensively while the Guardians forced shots and got away from the ball movement that helped them pull away at the end of the first half.

“The kids believe in each other and I believe in them," Foley said. "We threw that half-court trap at [St. Peter-Marian] and got them to turn the ball over. They took a couple long shots and we got every rebound off that situation, we got every rebound, I thought we got every loose ball at the end, and everyone just kind of did their job.”

St. John’s had no answer for Guardians’ star sophomore Makai Ashton-Langford (18 points) in the first half. Ashton-Langford, a heralded Division 1 recruit who was playing in front of University of Maryland assistant coach Scott Spinelli, got to the rim nearly at will in the middle quarters — enabling SPM to go on a 15-1 run spanning from the end of the second quarter to the middle of the third.

Another sophomore, Greg Kuakumensah (13 points, 8 rebounds) was the only other Guardians’ player who finished in double-figures. Tom Annan and Jamal Smith each scored eight points for SPM, which will face No. 1-ranked Putnam in Springfield on Sunday.

The Pioneers, who have now won five in a row after losing to Leominster in their second game of the year, will host another league foe, St. Bernard’s, on Friday night.

“[Beating St. Peter-Marian] doesn’t boost our confidence as much as it just makes us work harder. We understand where we stand now,” Jones said, “tomorrow we’ll be back at practice ready to go.”

Div. 3 softball final: Assabet Valley 5, St. Mary's 2

June, 16, 2013
6/16/13
1:03
AM ET
WORCESTER, Mass. -- After losing to Turners Falls in last year's Division 3 state semifinal round, Assabet Valley returned this season with one sole purpose. The bitterness of that one run loss the Indians a year ago remained with the Aztecs throughout the off-season and they would use it as ammunition coming into this year's campaign.

Following Saturday's 5-2 victory over St. Mary's of Lynn in the Division 3 finals at Rockwood Field, Assabet can now wipe the Turners Falls game away from its memory banks and replace it with the joy of claiming its first state championship.

The Aztecs (21-4) broke this game open with a four run third inning. Tied 1-1 at the time, Assabet began the decisive frame with Jocelyn Orangio beating out an infield single. Brittney Lutz then laid down a bunt to the left side. Spartan third baseman Kaleigh Finigan, after fielding the ball, attempted to throw out Orangio at second. The throw beat the sophomore but shortstop Molly Doyle was unable to handle the throw thus putting runners on first and second. Mogran Parmeter followed by lining a single off the glove of Doyle into left field, scoring Orangio to make it 2-1. After a Jen Casavant single loaded the bases, the Aztecs proceeded to bounce into two force outs at the plate.

With an opportunity to escape a serious jam with only one run allowed, St. Mary's pitcher Brooke L'Abbe walked Nicole Cormier to force in Assabet's third run. The Aztecs didn't stop there. They scored two more runs on Deanna Hnilica's infield single and ensuing throwing error by Finigan to grab a 5-1 lead.

"What a great year," Assabet head coach Mike O'Brien said. "Nobody thought we could do this or even win a district championship. We've won two district championships and now we've won a state so I'm very proud of these girls. Our goal was to keep them under two runs and we gave up two. We felt two runs or less we would have a real good chance to win this.

"They made a couple of mistakes and we capitalized. That's how we've won all year. After losing in the state semis last year this team fought all year knowing they wanted to get back there and even a bit further. We were able to get back to the state semis (beating Mount Everett in extra innings) and today was just the pinnacle of all of that."

The Aztecs got on the board first in their half of the second on back-to-back doubles by Casavant and Madison Parmeter. The Spartans (19-6) would tie it in the third. Alex Fisher singled, took second on a SAC bunt and scored after Aztec pitcher Madison Parmeter threw the ball into right field after fielding Victoria Viger's bunt.

Following the four-run inning bestowed upon by Assabet, L'Abbe, a senior, was lifted. The combination of sophomore Jordan D'Orsi and eighth-grader Mia Nowicki kept the Aztecs hit less the rest of the way. With D'Orsi and Nowicki doing their job, the St. Mary's offense failed in comparison as Parmeter (CG, 5 hits, 3 Ks) held the Spartans in check in their quest to jump back into this one.

"I was watching their feet and if they crowded the plate I would throw it inside on them," said Parmeter, a sophomore. I don't think a lot of batters expect that but I have a lot of spin on my pitches and was able to keep them off-balanced for much of this game."

In the seventh, St. Mary's attempted a comeback by scoring a solo run. Cassandra Lafauci doubled to left and came around to score on a throwing error by first baseman Casavant. But that would be the only rallying cry put forth by the Spartans as Parmeter recorded the final out giving Assabet the triumph.

"It's tough," said Spartans coach Colleen Newbury, who was looking to claim her team's third state title having won it in 2009 and 2010. "It is especially tough for our seniors who don't get to play another game. That team played great and made the plays where we didn't. They played great defense against us. We have some good kids coming back so I think it will be a bright future for us."

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