Boston High School: Anthony Bullough

Tale of the Tape: Brighton vs. South Hadley

March, 14, 2013
PM ET online sports producer Jay King and I break down each of the three MIAA boys basketball State Championships taking place Saturday at the DCU Center in Worcester. I'll be providing Eastern Mass. perspective, while Jay handles Western Mass.



School: Brighton
Record: 20-6
Region: North

Boy, do the Bengals have a flair for the dramatic. In Tuesday night’s Eastern Mass. Final with Scituate, at TD Garden, Brighton trailed by 11 with four minutes to go, then took the lead with 1.8 seconds left after Malik James scooped up a Nate Hogan deflection and converted a three-point play. James’ fourth-quarter effort – 14 of his 21 points, all with four fouls – is something they’ll be talking about for years. And yet, it was just the latest episode of one of the most dramatic playoff runs in years, scoring last-second victories in wins over Burlington, Melrose and North Andover en route to that Scituate win.

The Bengals were a heavy favorite over Mahar in last year’s state final, but fell behind 17-3 in the first quarter before losing by four. Yet here they are again, supercharged behind James and getting added boost from wing Nick Simpson, who was ruled academically ineligible shortly before last year’s playoff run.

Should Brighton win on Saturday, the Bengals would be the first team from Boston Public Schools to win both a Boston City Championship and MIAA State Championship in the same season since 2003. That, of course, was one of Jack O’Brien’s five state title squads at Charlestown. The legendary O’Brien is a lifelong mentor to Brighton head coach Hugh Coleman, who was also an assistant on those nationally-ranked Townies squads.

-- Brendan Hall

Key Players:
Malik James, 6-2 Jr. G (21 points, eight assists) – When in his element, simply the best point guard in the MIAA. His 14-point fourth quarter with four fouls at the Garden, punctuated with his steal and game-winning layup, was something of beauty.
Nick Simpson, 6-4 Jr. G (16 points, seven rebounds) – Ruled ineligible shortly before the 2011-12 postseason, some wonder if he could have been the difference in the Mahar game last year.
Prince Unaegbu, 6-6 Jr. C (12 rebounds, seven blocks) – Also a menace as a two-way edge player in football, Unaegbu is the muscle down below. Also the cousin of future UMass defensive end Peter Ngobidi.
Daivon Edwards, 6-0 Sr. G (13 points) – One of the state’s best long-distance shooters, has hit 92 three-pointers so far this season. Give him an inch, it will feel like a mile.

Road through the playoffs
North First Round: beat Burlington, 62-60
North Quarterfinal: beat Salem, 82-61
North Semifinal: beat Melrose, 65-62
North Final: beat North Andover, 64-59
Eastern Mass. Final: beat Scituate, 55-52


School: South Hadley
Record: 17-7
Region: West

When South Hadley dropped to 7-5 with a 26-point loss to Sabis at the Hoophall Classic in mid-January, coach Jeff Guiel kept the team in the locker room for about a half an hour. He told his players they needed to be mentally tougher. He implored them to use their assistant coaches, former South Hadley players, as examples. He didn’t really know what else to do. He felt his team could play much better, but he saw an underachieving bunch sitting in front of him.

South Hadley lost its next two games after that speech (maybe drawing similar ones), but hasn’t lost since. The Tigers won their last six regular season contests, captured a Western Mass. title with three more victories, and then beat St. Bernard’s by 15 points in the Division II state semifinals.

Underachieving no more. Not even close.

-- Jay King

Key players:
Evan Marcus, 5-11 Sr. G (16 points) – Depending when you pay attention during a game, Marcus will either be: shooting a 3-pointer, posting up, doggedly chasing an opponent, quarterbacking the South Hadley offense or slashing to the paint for two. So yes, he provides quite a bit. And yes, at least during the latter stages of the Western Mass. tournament, South Hadley’s Mr. Everything wore his hair in a mullet.
T.J. Fitzell, 5-10 Jr. G (11.3 points) – Fitzell’s like that bad movie about an underground fight club starring Sean Faris –- he’ll Never Back Down. Capable of extended hot streaks, he hit five 3-pointers in the first quarter against St. Bernard’s and leads South Hadley with 46 triples on the season.
Avon White, 5-10 Jr. G (10.7 points) – South Hadley’s quickest player and best ball-handler, White is adept at breaking down defenses with the dribble.
Anthony Bullough, 6-2 Sr. F (8.2 points) – Though he scored 14 points in the Western Mass. final, Bullough isn’t one to post impressive numbers. What he does provide for South Hadley, though: toughness and a bit of length for a team mostly devoid of the latter.

Road through the playoffs
West Round 1: beat Belchertown, 73-51
West Semifinals: beat Sabis, 52-40
West Final: beat Greenfield, 55-49
State Semifinals: beat St. Bernard’s, 63-48

Recap: Wahconah 24, South Hadley 21

December, 1, 2012
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -– Wahconah Regional didn't win many games this season in lopsided fashion.

It turned out to be a good omen for the Warriors, who applied their win-close-contests formula to celebrate the Western Mass. Division 2 Super Bowl championship Saturday night at Gillette Stadium.

“We haven't really blown out anybody. But we've been pretty methodical and done our thing. Maybe tonight that just helped us keep our composure,” Wahconah head coach Gary Campbell Jr. said after a 24-21 win over South Hadley.

Wahconah (9-3) clinched its fourth Super Bowl crown without scoring a point in the second half. But South Hadley (9-3) was also kept off the scoreboard after halftime, a product of the Warriors' strong rushing attack.

Senior quarterback Lane Grogan and junior Ethan Wells earned every carry for the Warriors. The duo combined for 37 rushes, 164 yards and two touchdowns.

“They did a great job of controlling the ball and controlling the clock,” said South Hadley head coach Eric Scammons, whose program sought its second title in three years. “They just take so much time off the clock with each of their drives that, even though we were getting stops, we didn't have a lot of time left to do anything. And they were able to stop us defensively.”

Wells (21 carries, 87 yards) scored the game-winning TD as time expired in the first half. His 1-yard plunge and subsequent conversion run were possible thanks to Jordan Fiske.

Wahconah's senior split end made arguably the toughest catch of Super Saturday, snaring a 41-yard toss that sailed directly overhead. Fiske beat defensive backs Bryan Shippee and Anthony Bullough to make the catch, then tumbled to the turf.

One second remained on the game clock, giving the Warriors one more snap.

“That is, hands down, my favorite catch of my entire career,” Fiske said. “There is no way to describe how happy I was after I caught that.”

Scammons had a different take: “Scoring at the end of the half and then getting the ball coming out, that's big. The Patriots are notorious for doing that … I think that did take the wind out of our sails, psychologically, a little bit, even though we had a half left.”

The Tigers had every reason to believe they'd reclaim the lead. The 45-point first half featured five lead changes.

Sophomore Riley Villeneuve (10 carries, 82 yards, 2 TDs) staked South Hadley to its first and second leads. He dug Wahconah a quick hole with a 30-yard run just 66 seconds into the game. His 3-yard run late in the quarter erased Grogan's TD and conversion runs.

Midway through the second, Darrow Brown (4 receptions, 87 yards) made a leaping 15-yard TD grab. Grogan fired the strike that his receiver pulled down while battling Thomas Fitzell. The six-point play was followed by Joseph DiMassimo's conversion catch.

South Hadley had the answer. Shippee's 6-yard scamper and Liam Murphy's third extra point gave the Tigers a 21-16 lead with 1:19 left in the half.

Wahconah's five-point deficit didn't last long, however.

“We made a goal to get here. As soon as we got here, we said, 'Hey, why not just win?'” Grogan said. “It's probably the best game we've played all season.”

Fiske ran a simple seam route on his highlight-reel catch. It was one of a dozen pass plays the Warriors attempted to keep South Hadley from fully committing to the run.

“We spread them out. We went no backs,” Campbell said. “We thought we could move the safety out of there with a little motion. The safety went with it – bang.”

The senior's recollection of the catch, understandably, was a bit more emotional.

“I got open. I was just thinking, 'If I drop this, I'm going to get shot,'” Fiske said. “I let it land in my hands, wrapped it up tight, and wouldn't let go.”

Few outside Wahconah's program figured 2012 would end with a Super Bowl celebration like the 1983, 1998 and 2003 campaigns. This year's team included just six seniors.

The title-tested junior class is also six-strong.

“We have 20 sophomores. We're going to be OK,” Campbell said. “We always expect to do well, but we didn't expect to win it in July. But we're going to take it. We ain't giving it back.”

Western Mass. Division 2 Super Bowl


Wahconah (9-3) 8-16-0-0 – 24
S. Hadley (9-3) 14-7-0-0 – 21

First quarter
S – Riley Villeneuve 30 run (Liam Murphy kick), 8:54
W – Lane Grogan 4 run (Grogan run) 4:55
S – Villeneuve 3 run (Murphy kick), 1:06

Second quarter
W – Darrow Brown 15 pass from Grogan (DiMassimo conversion from Grogan), 4:45
S – Bryan Shippee 6 run (Murphy kick), 1:19
W – Ethan Wells 1 run (Wells conversion run), :00