Boston High School: Avi Adler-Cohen

Lofton lobs up winning play in D1 South

March, 11, 2011

BOSTON, Mass. -- Why play hard when you can play smart?

With three seconds left in the game, Mansfield’s Michael Lofton was being contested for the potential go ahead point after battling back to break even after being down as many as eight points in the fourth quarter. Instead of scoring point 18, he dumped off to his teammate Chris Johnson, who had scored earlier in the fourth, for the go ahead win, sending the Hornets (24-2) into the Eastern Mass Division 1 finals against St. John’s Prep on Tuesday night.

“Michael’s been our best player all year long,” Mansfield head coach Michael Vaughn said. “But the staple of our team has been our ability to pass the basketball and share. I really think if Michael goes up with that, now it’s a challenged shot, the result might have been a little bit different, but just playing the way we’ve been playing all year, he throws the extra pass to an uncontested (player).”

“It feels good that I know that I have other scorers that can score like CJ,” said Lofton (16 points, 12 rebounds, three steals). “He’s a great scorer. He’s one of those 50/50 winners that can get the ball and score in the paint… He came through for us.”

With 1:50 left in the game, after Lofton got one of his three steals on the day, Jeff Hill made the layup in transition to tie the game at 42.

“The shot clock was running down and I just took it to the hoop, which was open so I took the layup,” said Hill (6 points, 10 rebounds, 4 steals)

Luke Westman made the return basket for Newton North (19-7) on as assist by Avi Adler-Cohen to put the Tigers up 44-42. Lofton got an offensive rebound off of a miss on the next possession and tied the game up again, at 44. Playing tenacious defense, the Hornets had the Tigers on their heels, and as Adler-Cohen dove out of bounds near the scorers’ table to keep the wayward ball in play, Lofton intercepted the save, zoomed half the distance of the court to the basket and flushed the ball with :35 left, sending the Mansfield pride soaring behind the same basket that he had just kissed with the ball, putting his team up 46-44.

“I was getting a little tired,” added Lofton. “But the drive to keep me going, keep me on my feet was that this is my senior year, and we had to put it all out there to win this game. Not many people get this opportunity to play at The Garden twice.”

After a Newton North timeout, Tevin Falzon (14 points, 16 rebounds, two blocks) drained another two free throws after being fouled on a rebound to tie the game up at 46. Coming down the court, the Tiger defense was expecting for Lofton to take the last second shot, but he found the rolling Johnson down low who put it in without opposition, putting the Hornets up 48-46 with three seconds left.

“He had great court vision looking for me and finding me under the basket wide open,” said Johsnon. “I’m just glad that I finished it.”

The ensuing inbounds pass was deflected by Johnson (12 points, five rebounds, four steals), sending the ball up in the air and the Mansfield boys into each other’s arms, celebrating their comeback victory, as Newton North held the lead since 4:25 in the second quarter, when a Brian Santana layup pushed the Tigers past the Hornets 18-17.

“I think that’s how our whole team has been made up all year,” added Vaughan of Johnson, who had three steals in the first quarter, but didn’t make another standout defensive stop until the last seconds of the game. “Guys like Johnson who come up with big plays when we need them.”

Newton North stalls New Bedford in D1 South

March, 8, 2011
DORCHESTER, Mass. -- Newton North punched its ticket to play at the TD Garden for the Division 1 South Championship Friday, with an emphatic 67-44 win over New Bedford Tuesday night at UMass-Boston's Clark Athletic Center.

With such an eye-popping point differential, one would think it was offense that propelled the Tigers (19-6) to victory, but it was their defense and rebounding that allowed them to move on to the South Finals. As a team, it had 40 rebounds, eight steals, and four blocks

“I think our defense right now is playing phenomenal,” Newton North head coach Paul Connolly said. “The last team we played (Weymouth) was averaging 67 points and we held them to 45. New Bedford was averaging 69 and we held them to 44. This group has come together so well. I just really like my team right now.”

Luke Westman lead the way for Newton North by making an impact on all sides of the ball, not just with points. He finished with 17 points, seven rebounds, and four steals that all led to transition points for North.

North had a 15-7 lead after one quarter, but after turning the ball over multiple times, the Whalers (17-4) battled back and tied the score at 20 with three minutes left to go in the half. With North only having a 26-23 lead at the half, it appeared to be anyone’s ballgame.

New Bedford took the lead with five minutes to go in the third quarter, when they went ahead 29-28. In a matter of seconds, though, North was back on top 31-29 and continued to stretch its lead for the remainder of the game.

After not having a lead over eight points in the first half, North stretched its lead to 12 points by the end of the third quarter. It came on the heels of a 13-5 point run that appeared to swing all the momentum in North’s favor.

“As soon as they got the lead, I think that’s when we really clicked and we really stepped our game up and we never looked back,” said Newton North senior guard Avi Adler-Cohen (19 points). “I told the guys we had to punch first. We’ve got down early in other games and we had to battle back. Here we had the lead and we let them get back into it and kind of took it into an extra gear and finished it off.”

North stretched its lead to 14 in the early minutes of the fourth and again used transition opportunities sparked by turnovers to stretch its lead to as many as 19 points and eventually the 23-point victory.

In the final frame, the New Bedford players were becoming visibly upset with how the game was unfolding, and North took advantage of its opponents' low spirits.

“When you see that, that’s when you really have to step on their throats and you just have to keep it there,” Adler-Cohen said. “When you see them start to crumble that’s when you really can’t let up at all. You have to go to that extra gear because that’s when they’re weakest. That’s what we did and we expanded our lead from 10 to 20, and then the game’s over.”

North will play Mansfield Friday at the Garden, and the team knows it won’t be easy.

“They’re a good team, they knocked us out last year (in the D1 South quarterfinals) so I know it’s a huge revenge game for us, we don’t want to lose to them two years in a row,” Adler-Cohen said. “They’re talented, they’re the No. 1 seed in the South so you know they’re going to be good. But if we come in with a game plan and execute it I think we can play with anyone right now.”

“They’re a terrific passing team, they’re very very well-coached, so we know it’s going to be a good game, but we’re going to enjoy this right now and worry about that on Friday,” Connolly said.

Newton North takes rubber match in D1 South

March, 6, 2011
WEYMOUTH, Mass. -- Newton North got out to an early 14-3 lead and never looked back, as the Tigers defeated Weymouth, 54-45, in a Division 1 South quarterfinal Saturday night.

After splitting their two regular season matchups, both Bay State league teams took the court Saturday night in front of a packed and energetic Weymouth gymnasium.

The game was physical early and the defensive intensity of North (18-6) proved to be the key factor in controlling the pace and tempo of the game.

Newton North junior point guard Michael Thorpe got going early scoring seven of his game high 15 points in the first half. Thorpe led the offense and teamed with senior guard Avi Adler-Cohen (11 points) to hold the perimeter game of Weymouth (18-4) in check.

“We have been a tremendous defensive basketball team all season long,” Newton North head coach Paul Connolly said. “They (Weymouth) averaged 67 points a game this season and we held them to 45 tonight.”

The Tigers led, 30-17, with under a minute remaining in the first half when Weymouth sophomore Jared Terrell converted back to back three point plays as he knifed through the middle of the defense to cut the lead to, 30-23, at the half.

Newton North maintained their defensive superiority in the third quarter holding Weymouth to five points until Weymouth junior guard Damian Lugay hit a three at the buzzer to cut the Newton North lead to seven points, 38-31.

Brothers Tevin and Aaron Falzon controlled the middle of the paint all night for Newton North, making it difficult for Weymouth to get to the hoop. The brothers owned the glass in the game and eliminated second chance shot opportunities for Weymouth.

“We really rebounded the basketball well tonight,” said Connolly. “Getting Tevin back has been huge. He is such a big presence in there for us.

Tevin Falzon (six points) missed most of his senior season with a wrist injury but has been a big lift for the Tigers during their two tournament wins.

Terrell led Weymouth with 15 points on the night and Lugay added 11.

The Tigers advance to the Division 1 South semifinals, where they will face New Bedford at UMass-Boston on Tuesday. Tip time is scheduled for 7 p.m., with the winner moving on to the TD Garden in the sectional finals.

Who is the next big thing in MIAA hoop?

February, 26, 2011
Every year, there is that one special player who erupts abuptly onto the basketball scene in March and puts many a college scout on notice. Think back to 2005, when Newton North's vicious backcourt of Anthony Gurley and Corey Lowe shone in the Tigers' first of two straight Division 1 state titles.

We saw it again in 2008, when Central Catholic's 6-foot-11 sophomore Carson Desrosiers filled the lane impressively and showed off his range for the Raiders in their D1 state title. We saw it again in 2009, when Lynn English's Ryan Woumn dropped 39 points on Brockton in the D1 EMass Finals. And we saw it again 12 months ago, when Pat Connaughton averaged 21.7 points and 19 rebounds as St. John's Prep made a surprise run to the D1 North finals.

So who is the next Connaughton, Woumn or Desrosiers? Below are nine underclassmen who could fit the bill.

6-7, Jr. F

Why he matters: Layman has been nothing short of phenomenal for the Warriors this season, as they set a program record for wins (14) and ended a 15-year postseason drought. Averaging 24 points, 13 rebounds and 4.8 blocks on the season, and coming close to a quadruple-double in a game against Stoughton earlier this season, don't be surprised to see him put up those kinds of numbers in the postseason. UMass, Providence and Boston College have offered him, while Notre Dame, BYU and Texas A&M have shown heavy interest.
What opposing coaches are saying: “I think he could be a Dream Teamer this year, if you want my honest opinion. He’s one of the top three players in the state. He can jump out of the gym, shoot three’s, post you up, just an unbelievable talent…He can be the biggest prospect in the state of Massachusetts as far as I’m concerned. He is a major, major talent...His athleticism, he’s so athletic for a 6-9 kid, and like I said, he has point guard skills. Kevin McHale moves inside, three, four, five dunks a game, just stuff you don’t see in high school anymore. I mean he’s one of best players I’ve seen in last 15 years, to be honest with you...Holy God. The thing with him is how skilled is in all facets of the game, how he runs the floor, he's so athletic. He honestly, and I hate to use the same terms over and over again, but a very high ceiling."
Scouts Inc.’s analysis of strengths: “A long and athletic player, Layman has a terrific set of physical tools. He stands a legit six-foot-seven with great length and a solid frame which will eventually support a good deal of muscle mass. He is a very good athlete and gets his head on the rim between his length and leaping ability. He has good touch on his jump shot and projects as a very good three-point shooter down the road with a little refinement to his technique. He is a potentially versatile defensively who can change the game with his length on top of the press.”
ESPN's Adam Finkelstein: “Jake Layman may have more upside than anyone in the MIAA. At 6-foot-7 with long arms, a good frame, and athleticism that allows him to get his head on the rim he is the prototype high-major forward. He doesn't yet realize how good he is but has a tremendous future in front of him.”

6-2, Soph. G
Why he matters:
The sophomore led the Bay State Conference in scoring (15.1 points) this season, and while those aren't eye-popping numbers, Terrell is a sight to be seen. In the mold of slashers like Charlestown's Akosa Maduegbunam, Terrell is an off-guard in a linebacker's body, able to create his own shot off the dribble but at his best when charging through the lane. Quite simply, there are few in Massachusetts with such physical maturity at this age. He's drawing an assortment of Division 1 interest, from the Atlantic-10 all the way up to schools like Washington and Clemson.
Opposing coaches: "Jared Terrell is one of the purest athletes running around, if not the best athlete running around in the state. I think when he eliminates his dribbles and everything else like that, and just looks to take it to the hole, he can't be stopped...It's tough to make a comparison, because I think he's one of the top two athletes in the state. But as his progress keeps going up, I mean the sky's the limit. Historically? I don't know, because I'm not ready to give anything to these new jacks yet, but if I were to make a comparison I'd say his older brother Royce."
Scouts Inc.: "Terrell is a power guard with a strong body and bouncy athleticism. He is as aggressive as he is powerful, getting after people on the defensive end and going hard to the rim offensively. He is a versatile defender who can make plays in full court pressure situations and also lock up opposing scorers in the half-court, bodying up with his upper body without fouling. Offensively, he has a good first step and quick springs and shows no fear attacking shot blockers."
Finkelstein: "Jared Terrell is as explosive of a guard as you will find in the MIAA. He is powerful and athletic, allowing him to go through contact to make plays above the rim. If he can add a consistent jumper to his offensive repertoire his recruitment will go to the next level."

6-7, Fr. F/C
Why he matters:
While Falzon isn't the Tigers' top scoring option -- that falls unto guards Mike Thorpe and Avi Adler-Cohen -- the younger brother of senior Tevin Falzon is a game-changer in the middle. With his long arms and ability to step out to NBA-range three's, he has already drawn comparisons to former Tigers great and current Yale freshman Greg Kelley. The sky is the limit for Aaron, as the 14-year-old continues to grow and fill out.
Opposing coaches: “I think his ceiling is just through the roof, he is certainly super skilled for a big kid. He has a very good touch. Right now, facing the basket is where he's best, but as he gets stronger he'll get more confident down on the low blocks. He's real tough...For us, the problem with him is clearly the size advantage. But in general, he's so skilled. With him, if a typical big guy covers him, you can draw them away from the basket, because he's got range up to and beyond the three-pointt line. The few times I've seen him go to the blocks, he's very skilled, and has versatility on defense with his length, but he's a real nice player...He's very similar [to Kelley], at 6-7 when you can draw guys out like he did. If he can extend the defense and open up shots in the lane for guys like Thorpe and Adler-Cohen, he's a tough guard for us."
Finkelstein: “Aaron Falzon fits the new style big man in that he has the size to play down low but the skill set to step away and stretch the defense. With three more years to continue to develop his game and body, he has a chance to be a very highly pursued prospect if he continues to do the right things.”

6-9, Soph. C

Why he matters: Taylor dominated the glass this year for the 19-1 Falcons, and has served as a wonderful complement to guards Deondre Starling, Kyroe Qualls-Betts and his brother, 6-foot-5 junior Maurice. There may not be a longer starting five in the state than Cambridge, and at the center is Jacquil, who runs the floor well for a player his size and can change momentum in a snap with one of his thunderous two-handed slams. A handful of Division 1 schools, including UMass and BC locally, have expressed interest.
Opposing coaches: “He is a diamond in the rough. He’s going to be real good, high-major maybe, with his shot blocking ability and rebounding ability. He’s not as good as Nerlens Noel, but he’s that type of player...His length is his strength, I'd say right now -- defensively especially, and on the glass, too. I think his offensive game will get better, but in terms of what he does around the basket, he's impressive...Jacquil has tremendous upside. I think he's getting ready to have breakout in the state tournament this year. Both him and his brother Mo are two outstanding basketball players."
Finkelstein: "When you are big and mobile you have a chance to be very good and that's exactly what Jacquil is, not to mention a long lefty. His potential has never been questioned but now it's time to turn those tools into production on a consistent basis."

6-2, Jr. G
Why he matters:
One of the Cape Ann League's leading scorers (19.7 points per game), he is the cousin of Andover star Joe Bramanti, and could be ready to carve a name for himself on the family tree. Like Joe, he is an exceptional shooter -- most recently, Adam hit seven 3-pointers in a game with Manchester-Essex in late January -- who can give good chase on the perimeter.
Opposing coaches: “He’s a fantastic shooter. If he’s on, it’s in. I’ve seen him hit nine, 10 three’s in a game, he’s fantastic. He can work a little bit on his dribble-drive and finishing, but as far as being a shooter, he’s top-notch.”
Scouts Inc.: “A very skilled guard with a high basketball I.Q. and terrific feel for the game, Bramanti is well schooled in the fundamentals of the game. He is an excellent three-point shooter who makes shots with deep range and also changes speeds with his dribble to get himself into the lane. He is a very efficient scorer off the catch, being tremendously efficient with his body movements, and owning a terrific shot fake. He always has his head up, has very good court vision, and can deliver quick passes off the dribble with a quick flick of his wrist.”
Finkelstein: “Adam Bramanti is a super skilled young guard with a high basketball I.Q. and instinctive feel for the game. Give him a year or two for his body to catch up, and his stock is bound to take off.”

6-6, Jr. F
Why he matters:
In short, the junior is another one of those under-the-radar prospects. Stanton has had a breakout campaign this season for the 19-2 Bulldogs, complementing electric senior Travonne Berry-Rogers very nicely with his slashing ability in the post. With his size, length, and athletic ability on the break, Stanton has drawn comparisons to former English great Jarell Byrd, who is currently doing a post-graduate year at St. Thomas More (Conn.).
Opposing coaches: “We’re athletic, [but] he’s freakishly athletic. The things he can do, even when he attacked the rim off the bounce, he tried to get a dunk a few times. He went right at us. Jimmy [Zenevitch, of Central Catholic] scores a lot, but he is also a good defender as far as bigs, and this kid went right at Jimmy. He’s a great player, incredible athlete, and he’s going to be a handful in the tournament...He’s real skinny, but has a lot of athletic ability. He needs to play more. He has some big upside, too, but he needs to work on his ballhandling skils before he moves on to a higher level, because that’s what he’ll be with his size.”
Finkelstein: “Keandre Stanton has proven his worth this year at Lynn English but is still relatively unknown outside of Massachusetts' borders. A strong state tournament could be the first step towards a breakout summer.”

5-8, Fr. G
Why he matters:
The freshman, who is averaging nearly eight points a game off the bench, could very well end up winning a game for the Raiders in the postseason. He scores in bunches, often coming into the game and knocking down a pivotal three-pointer. When bringing the ball up, he directs traffic in the half-court calmly but smartly, and is unafraid to bark orders at one of his senior teammates. Overall, he's shown a maturity well beyond his years in his rookie season on the Raiders' varsity -- of course, it doesn't hurt that his father is an advance scout for the Utah Jazz.
Opposing coaches: “He’s probably the best shooter in the state, and that’s no lie -- he’s a deadly shooter. He’s a baby he could only be an eighth grader for all we know, but the stronger he gets the better he’ll get...He’s gonna be a scholarship player someday, he has a real high basketball I.Q., no lie.”
Finkelstein: “Tyler Nelson gives Central Catholic a big boost with his three-point shooting and looks to have a very bright high school career in front of him. Any player who can make shots in bunches has a potential niche at the next level.”

6-6, Soph. F
Why he matters:
Anderson is still relatively unknown on the big stage; and between the Titans' star-studded backcourt of Samir McDaniels, Darius Davis and Kachi Nzerem, the young Anderson gets a limited amount of touches, and often comes off the bench. With his ability to handle, Anderson's future with Mission could be in more of a point forward role, though in the possessions he plays around the rim he shows adept skill and rebounding and blocking. In short, Anderson's a question mark right now, but a year from now could be a firm exclamation point. A good run in the playoffs, though, could serve his stock well.
Opposing coaches: “He has big upside, and we’ll see that the more he plays and the more touches he gets. He’s gonna be going to college somewhere, very athletic. He’s good.”
Finkelstein: “Nate Anderson has all the physical tools for the next level with a long and strong body to match his high level athleticism. He makes his biggest impact on the defensive end right now but has shown good potential as a face-up four who can attack less mobile big men with his dribble.”

6-1, Soph. G
Why he matters:
After a strong summer with the New England Playaz, the sophomore brought a considerable amount of hype with him to the Golden Eagles. And needless to say, at 11-9, they've grossly underperformed after starting the year off at No. 6 in ESPNBoston's MIAA Top 25 poll. This may be a head-scratcher, considering he's averaging just six points a game, but it's hard to ignore his creativity and the praise he's earned out of season.
Opposing coaches: “Corn is quick as lightning, great little stroke, great on-ball defender. He’s fearless, he’ll step in and take a charge against 6-11 kids, he doesn’t care...He’s a great point guard with great instincts, knows how to find the open man, get to a guy going through the air, he’s talented. On the AAU circuit, he’s a 20-point scorer.”
Scouts Inc.: “A talented young point guard who already has a good understanding of how to distribute the basketball. Tyson has terrific court vision at a young age, makes good decisions handling and passing the ball against pressure, and can also get into the lane to create shots for himself and his teammates. He has also developed into a consistent shooter from behind the three-point arc. He has a terrific feel for the game for such a young player, already making good use of jab steps, jump stops, and other crafty maneuvers to open up passing/driving lanes.”
Finkelstein: “Tyson is a good looking young point guard who shows a mature understanding of the position for someone his age. He not only hits the open man but also has the creativity and vision to make plays for his teammates, making him very unique.”


Aaron Calixte, Soph. G, Stoughton
Matt Droney, Jr. G, Catholic Memorial
Joey Glynn, Jr. F, Cardinal Spellman
Jameilen Jones, Soph. F, BC High
Jarrod Neumann, Jr. G/F, Northampton
Kenny Reed, Jr. G, Reading
Colin Richey, Soph. G, Whitinsville Christian
Damion Smith, Fr. G, West Roxbury
Michael Thorpe, Jr. G, Newton North

Brendan Hall is a high school editor for Follow him on Twitter.

St. Anthony's runs through Newton North

December, 31, 2010
NEWTON, Mass. -- What kind of player travels four hours to attend his first Boston area tournament, packs a bag for the trip, but leaves his home uniform in New Jersey? The kind of player that will score 17 points and grab six rebounds after sitting out the first round of the tournament, hoping to earn his starting spot back from his Hall of Fame coach.

Six-foot-six junior Jimmy Hall came off the bench for the St. Anthony Friars (Jersey City, N.J.) and helped lead his team to a 77-33 victory over host Newton North to capture the Garden City Classic tournament tonight.

“Welcome to high school basketball,” said St. Anthony (5-0) coach Bob Hurley after the game. “I can see you forgetting a toothbrush, or a book to read while you’re on the trip, which we talked about. But I gotta think, that after we finished practice the day before we arrived up here, we had a thirty minute meeting about how to pack your stuff, that the first thing you would have in there would be all of your uniforms.

“That’s what I would’ve thought.”

To Hall’s credit, he knows just where the uniform is.

“It’s at home in my dirty clothes basket,” said Hall, who on top of sitting out yesterday’s first round victory over Catholic Memorial and coming off the bench today, also had to endure the haranguing his teammates handed him for such a gaffe.

“We got on him all night until he went to sleep,” said St. Anthony senior guard Myles Mack, who contributed 14 points and three rebounds. “There was nothing he could do about it. He realized it was his fault, so we’ve forgiven him.”

Bringing the ball up for the Friars was Kyle Anderson, a 6-8 junior, who scored 12 points and added eight rebounds, three steals and a block. He was able to keep the ball moving across half court with relative ease and maintained good ball movement once in the half court set.

“I use [my height] to my advantage,” said Anderson, “Being a tall point guard, I’m able to see over a lot of defenses and help make plays for my teammates.”

Anderson scored from the perimeter and from the paint, where he was able to catch and put the ball up quickly on in-bounds plays.

“That’s another advantage,” said Anderson. “Because of the height of most big men, I may be taller than other teams’ centers or power forwards.”

The leading scorer for Newton North was Avi Adler-Cohen, who scored 11 points, including the Tigers’ only four points in the first quarter, which did not surprise Newton North coach Paul Connolly.

“I was really proud of Avi,” said Connolly. “He really asserted himself. He’s a senior captain, three-year varsity kid. He’s been through it with me and I was really proud of the way he hung in there. He didn’t back down, but that’s what you expect from a senior captain.”

Tonight’s win was No. 989 for Hurley, but according to him, it doesn’t mean much more or less than win number one.

“If I win 1,000 games, I’m still coaching for awhile, so that’s just a number,” said Hurley, 63. “One week later, I’ll be happy or sad about something that my team is doing. Regardless of how many wins, things won’t change.”

In the consolation game of the tourney, Catholic Memorial (3-3) was led by junior guard Dan Powers, who went 8-8 from the free throw line on the way to 37 points, defeating Newton South, 82-71.

Powers’ ability to sink free throws, as well as his team who shot 18 of 22 from the line, comes from a tradition that head coach Denis Tobin ends every practice with.

“We’ll run them, get them tired, then pair them off with a different partner each day,” said Tobin, who then has the pair shoot head to head. “And the loser runs. We think that helps just by putting a little competition into the drill. They’re not just firing them up there.”

“Nobody wants to run at the end of practice,” said Powers, who also had eight rebounds and four steals.

Senior captain Matt Droney had 23 points in the win for the Knights and added nine rebounds, four assists and four steals.

Up 62-47 at the end of the third quarter, Newton South (2-3) outscored the Knights 24-20 in the last quarter, but Droney felt that the team was in control and is always well prepared for the final stretch of games.

“We pride ourselves on being in good shape,” said Droney. “Our goal is to have the other team be more tired than us by the end of the game. It’s conditioning and mental toughness so that when the fourth quarter comes, we’ll be more prepared than they are.”