Boston High School: Anthony Dion

D1 North: Lynn English 76, Haverhill 47

March, 1, 2013

LYNN, Mass. -– Erick Rosario's generally quite and calm demeanor plays a crucial role in his success on the court.

One moment appearing to stare off at the stands in a daze the sophomore almost instantly swoops in on someone else's man and is cruising untouched down the court. Never showing his defensive vision in his gaze, the guard nonchalantly turned tough steals into easy layups for No. 6 Lynn English (17-5) all night yesterday.

Leading the way in his team's man-to-man press, Rosario and the Bulldogs never trailed as they cruised to a 76-47 victory over No. 14 Haverhill (12-10) to advance to the Division 1 North semifinals for the fourth time in the past five years.

“For us everything is primarily based out of the man so the trap is always coming from a different direction,” said Lynn English coach Mike Carr. “It is all based of if someone dribbles at you. The hardest thing for us to pick up as a team is what happens behind it (and) for our 'bigs' to rotate.”

Rosario scored 19 points in what was a 23 steal effort for Lynn English.

The Bulldogs frantic pace lead to a 16 point game opening run.

After nine points in four minutes from the paint for English, Rosario nailed a 30-footer to edge ahead 12-0 at 3:30 in the first quarter. A pair of rebounds by Rosario set up layups for junior Danny Lukanda and sophomore Stevie Collins and a 16-0 advantage a minute later.

Lukanda had nine points and 13 rebounds.

“The way we push the ball everyone has a set spot they end up in,” said Carr. “We have a man we call the fly man that we release so we always push to that fly man. If we don't get that fly man then we are supposed to look to the other side.”

Good body position on a layup by senior Shain Roche and a baseline trey through coverage by junior Matthew Jameson cut the margin to 18-7 for Haverhill after one quarter. After gaining little ground in the second, English outscored Haverhill 24 to 9 in the third to seal the victory.

“We were on a little stretch where we made some baskets,” said Haverhill coach Mike Trovato. “I got a chance to watch them Wednesday and I needed my inhaler three times just watching them. We practiced with twelve kids on the court, but sometimes it doesn't work the way you draw it out.”

Rosario hit a pair of top corner three-pointers to help push the margin 49-24 at 4:34, while junior Fred Hogan (12 points) nailed a dish-out assist from behind-the-arc for a 59-28 margin two minutes later.

“I just want to steal the ball that is all that is in my head,” said Rosario. “We practice one-on-one and close outs. That is all we do is practice defense.”

Junior Anthony Dion lead Haverhill with 12 points and six rebounds.

Far From Overlooked: It is hard to believe the Bulldogs were overlooked by anyone headed into last February.

English has jumped onto the scene after winning 13 of its last 14 games including victories against Division 1 top-seeds Springfield Central (17-4) of the West and St. John's Prep (19-3) of the North.

The Bulldogs have an average victory margin of 22 points in their first two playoff games.

“It is a system that takes a while for us to put in,” said Carr. “It is really not till midway through the season that everyone kind off clicks on it. We started off the season 4-4 basically because of that.”

Trovato: 'We just made play after play'

February, 27, 2013
One of the better feel-good stories of the 2012-13 MIAA basketball season will live another few days.

Haverhill High has been fledgling the past few years, combining for 13 wins the past three campaigns coming into this season. Even with other-worldly talent Noah Vonleh in the ranks, the Hillies never managed to win more than seven games (Vonleh earned a spot on's All-State Team in 2011, his sophomore year, before moving on to New Hampton and signing with Indiana).

By all accounts, this has been a breakthrough season for the Hillies. They finished 11-9, won the Merrimack Valley Conference's second division outright, earned a No. 14 seed in the MIAA Division 1 North tournament, and saw senior Anthony Dion take home the division's MVP honors.

But tonight's 62-59 upset of No. 3 seed Westford Academy, in tonight's first round action of the Division 1 North tournament, is the piece de resistance. The Hillies maintained the lead for most of the game, but held on for dear life all the while, getting a few crucial free throws late from freshman sensation Saul Phiri to seal it.

"It really goes down to kids we have, and we have some great kids," said coach Mike Trovato, who is enduring his best season in his five-year tenure with Haverhill. "Obviously in games like this, anything can happen. But the focus and effort, it takes certain types of kids to put in the effort like that to beat a top seed.

"The story tonight is how hard the kids fought. We’re undersized against them, and we just made play after play, man. And it was different kids steppping up tonight."

Dion poured in 14 in the win, while fellow seniors Tommy Morgan and Sean Wrenn added 11 and eight, respectively. But it was the young freshman Phiri who put in the most production at the offensive end, leading the way with 19 points. The Grey Ghosts showed zone most of the night, and Phiri broke it from deep, tallying five of the Hillies' nine 3-pointers. The 6-foot-3 guard came into the season with some hype, already being billed as one of the state's top froshes, and he has done little to disappoint. His ceiling is high, and if his freshman campaign is a sign of things to come, the Hillies could be a force the next few years.

"The one thing the kid can do is score points, and everyone knows it," Trovato said. "He's a kid that’s great to coach. If you know my personality, I tend to demand a lot of effort out of our kids, and he's responded. He's young, throughout the year he's gotten better and better."

The Hillies move on to Friday's quarterfinals, where they'll await the winner of tomorrow night's tussle between Somerville and red-hot Lynn English. If the road stops on Friday, the Hillies have at least seen the light, and carry momentum going forward into 2014 and beyond.

"Our goal was to get into the tournament," Trovato said. "We got in and as far as, these things that can turn schools around -- especially public schools, where kids are leaving all the time -- these could be the types of things where kids just turn around and get kids stay, and say 'I want to play for Haverhill High'."