Boston High School: Drew Fiske

ESPN Boston's MIAA State Championship Picks

March, 16, 2012
3/16/12
8:24
AM ET
The MIAA will crown six state champions in boys and girls basketball on Saturday at Worcester's DCU Center. Here are my thoughts on how those six games will play out:

DIVISION 3 GIRLS: PENTUCKET (22-4) VS. SABIS (21-5)
Pentucket Players to Watch: Tess Nogueira, Jr. C; Leigh McNamara, Sr. F; Sarah Higgins, Sr. F; Nicole Viselli, Jr. G; Alex Moore, Jr. G; Kelsie McNamara, Fr. G
Sabis Players to Watch: Jazmine Collins, Jr. G; Janaiya Sanchez, Fr. G; Shyanne Washington, Jr. F; Madison Sinkfield, Fr. F; Casie Thurber, Soph. C.
Analysis: After coming close the last couple of years, Sabis finally got over the hump in their competitive Western Mass. bracket, to land here at the DCU Center. Plain and simple, these Lady Bulldogs are on a mission; and led by a core that includes the dynamic Collins, this is a well-oiled machine. Unfortunately (and this will be the operative word for many of my picks), they run into a Pentucket team that is quite simply swarming on defense. The Sachems' lineup =is among the best in Division 3, and they're on a roll. Pentucket is also motivated -- the last time they were here, in 2010, the Sachems were penned as a favorite, only to run into a gritty Lee team that, quite frankly, pressed like kamikazes. Hall's Pick: Pentucket over Sabis

DIVISION 3 BOYS: DANVERS (20-4) VS. ST. JOSEPH CENTRAL (20-5)
Danvers Players to Watch: George Merry, Sr. C; Nick McKenna, Jr. G; Nick Bates, Jr. G; Eric Martin, Jr. G; Jon Amico, Sr. G.
St. Joe's Players to Watch: Taverick "Tank" Roberson, Jr. G; Mike McMahon, Sr. F; Joe Wiggins, Sr. F; Lavante Wiggins, Jr. G; Jon Bianchi, Jr. G
Analysis: Credit to St. Joe's for playing an ambitious non-league schedule, which included a rockfight of a bout with Holy Name back in December, and get ready to be introduced to the spunky power that is Roberson -- in my opinion, he's every bit of a tank as his nickname suggests. But after putting in arguably its best performance of the year Monday night in the Eastern Mass. Finals against Wareham, I'm convinced Danvers will come out on top in this one. the 6-foot-7 Merry can step out on the perimeter and facilitate offense for shooters like McKenna and Bates, as much as he can take it inside. Danvers coach John Walsh goes with some of the same offensive principles as his cousin Watertown head coach and two-time D3 state champ Steve Harrington. And if you thought Harrington's four-out, drive-and-kick, dribble drive-oriented motion offensive was frustrating enough, imagine what it's like with size.
Hall's Pick: Danvers over St. Joseph Central

DIVISION 2 GIRLS: READING (24-0) VS. TYNGSBOROUGH (23-1)
Reading Players to Watch: Olivia Healy, Jr. G; Morgan O'Brien, Jr. G; Melissa DalPozzo, Sr. F; Katie Clements, Sr. G; Katherine Callahan, Sr. G.
Tyngsborough Players to Watch: Lauren Iadarola, Jr. F; Amanda Hogan, Jr. G; Helena Hamilton, Sr. F; Morgan Mitchell, Jr. C.
Analysis: The Mid-Wach C champion Tigers avoided a clean sweep of Central Mass. on Wednesday with a dominant 50-35 win over Palmer out in Springfield, getting quality production out of Iadarola, Hogan and Hamilton along the way. But Reading has had the tougher route here, putting away stalwarts Wachusett, Bishop Feehan, Arlington Catholic (twice) and Scituate to get to DCU Center floor. Look for Healy to get hers, but most crucial in the Rockets' overtime defeat of Scituate on Tuesday night was the play of O'Brien, who scored 33 points. Look for her to be the X-factor in this one.
Hall's Pick: Reading over Tyngsborough

DIVISION 2 BOYS: BRIGHTON (21-4) VS. MAHAR (21-3)
Brighton Players to Watch: Malik James, Soph. G; Theo Oribhabor, Jr. G; Daivon Edwards, Jr. G; Prince Unaegbu, Jr. F; Jerard Mayes, Sr. F; Tre Dowman, Sr. C
Mahar Players to Watch: Travon Godette, Sr. F; Jesse LaCroix, Sr. G; Phil DiPhillipo, Sr. G; Josef Whitman, Jr. F; Nate Martin, Sr. C; Darwin Duncan, Sr. F.
Analysis: The relationship between Brighton coach Hugh Coleman and his mentor, legendary Charlestown coach Jack O'Brien, is well-documented. There are ripples of O'Brien's system and tactics sprinkled throughout the Bengals; and we can assure you, there are tons of coaches in Eastern Mass. rooting for Coleman, as good a guy as they come, on Saturday. That aside, the Bengals figure to be favorites in this one. Godette, DiPhillipo and LaCroix combined for impressive whipping of St. Bernard's on Tuesday, but they haven't seen anything like Brighton. Hardened by a brutal schedule, the Bengals lost their best player, sophomore Nick Simpson, before the playoffs, yet somehow haven't dropped off. There's plenty to like -- a frustrating extended 2-3 zone, a swarming press, and a gifted shooter in Edwards -- and I think this will be another big one for promising sophomore point guard Malik James.
Hall's Pick: Brighton over Mahar

DIVISION 1 GIRLS: ANDOVER (26-0) VS. HOLYOKE (22-2)
Andover Players to Watch: Nicole Boudreau, Sr. G; Ally Fazio, Sr. G; Devon Caveney, Sr. G; Angelice Gonzalez, Jr. G; Jackie Alois, Jr. F; Rebecca Alois, Soph. F.
Holyoke Players to Watch: Monique Heard, Sr. G; Alison Littles, Sr. C; Kirsy Segarra, Jr. G; Nyomi Walker, Jr. F; Selena Yates, Sr. G.
Analysis: Our friend and Pioneer Valley legend Adam Harrington is getting giddy over this "dream matchup", Western Mass.'s premier point guard versus, quite frankly, the best female guard to come through Massachusetts in over a decade. We think the crowd on hand will be impressed with Heard, but the Golden Warriors -- despite usually being undersized -- have proven again and again to be unstoppable. It just seems whatever the score is going into the fourth quarter, the Warriors simply turn around and take ownership of it. When you have a team of athletes that get up and down as quickly as these girls, plus a superstar with NBA range, that's a vicious combination.
Hall's Pick: Andover over Holyoke

DIVISION 1 BOYS: BROCKTON (23-2) VS. SPRINGFIELD CENTRAL (23-1)
Brockton Players to Watch: Jaylen Blakely, Jr. G; Drew Fiske, Sr. F; Jahleel Moise, Sr. F; Jean Thomas, Sr. F; Will Baker, Sr. G; Sayvonn Houston, Sr. C; Jamal Reuben, Sr. F; Jarrod "Bubba" Shelby.
Springfield Central Players to Watch: Tyrell Springer, Sr. G; Lee Turner, Sr. G; Chris Prophet, Sr. G; Kamari Robinson, Jr. F; Jevaughn McMillian, Sr. C; Trevor Bacon, Sr. F; Cornelius Tyson, Sr. G.
Analysis: This might be the best matchup of the day. I picked Springfield Central to win it all before the tournament started; and since the Eagles are still in it, I'm sticking with the pick. The X-factor here might be the health of McMillian, a game-changing 6-foot-7 shot-swatter who injured his ankle in Tuesday night's thrilling semifinal win over St. John's (Shrewsbury). If he can't go or is less than 100 percent, that could make the matchup down low with Brockton's 6-foot-6 Sayvonn Houston -- by many accounts, one of the state's most efficient true five -- very interesting. Yet it seems the Golden Eagles thrive on adversity -- in the Western Mass. Final, with Springer and Prophet fouled out -- Robinson held his own to stave off a furious Commerce comeback bid. On the flip side, the Boxers have been on a mission since getting trounced by nearly 20 by Charlestown right before the start of tournament play. Blakely has been one of the best point guards of the tournament, and the Boxers have gotten crucial shooting out of Baker, Fiske and Reuben. Look out for Moise, an athletic shot swatter with quality defensive skills.
Hall's Pick: Springfield Central over Brockton

Div. 1 Boys: Brockton 67, Charlestown 64 (OT)

March, 13, 2012
3/13/12
2:34
AM ET
BOSTON -- A lesser team might have evaporated in the heat.

Brockton trailed Charlestown by seven points at the TD Garden with a tick more than four minutes left in Monday’s Division 1 state semifinals. Charlestown’s Tyrese Hoxter had already netted nine straight points in the fourth quarter, and the smooth lefty was threatening to shove Brockton tumbling into its grave.

The Boxers shoved back.

They rattled off the next seven points, eventually forcing overtime, and William Baker drilled two free throws with 3.6 seconds left in the extra session to ice Brockton’s 67-64 win and send the Boxers to Saturday’s state finals.

“Just stay calm,” explained Brockton star Sayvonn Houston, who scored a team-high 22 points to go with 13 rebounds. “If you panic, you lose.”

The Boxers didn’t panic. They made adjustments. Hoxter had been torching them with dribble penetration, so coach Bob Boen called for a 1-3-1 trap.

Outside shots weren’t falling, so Brockton attacked the glass. Houston had a putback hoop to cut the deficit to 55-50 with four minutes left. Jaylen Blakely (15 points) was fouled in transition after receiving a great outlet pass from Houston and hit one of two free throws.

Jamal Reuben, who started slowly, snatched a missed Blakely three and followed with his first field goal of the game. His second didn’t take so long to arrive. Reuben stole a cross-court pass on the very next possession and finished a lay-in on the break, tying the score at 55-all with two minutes left.

The teams played the rest of regulation to a draw, with Charlestown’s Tyrik Jackson swatting Baker’s baseline drive at the buzzer to keep the score 57-57.

Reuben started the overtime period with a bucket just five seconds in and followed with a strong baseline take a minute and a half later, giving his team a 61-57 advantage.

The talented small forward finished with 10 points after scoring just two during the first 28 minutes.

“Even when I’m struggling, coach and my teammates just want me to keep doing what I do, because they know it’s going to come eventually,” he explained.

Charlestown responded strongly, pulling within one at 63-62 with 16.9 seconds left. But Omar Orriols missed the second of two free throws and Houston sank two charity shots at the other end to push Brockton’s lead to 65-62. When Baker rebounded a Fernandez miss on the ensuring possession and was fouled with 3.6 seconds left, he needed just one make.

He got two, making the tally 67-62 before Iser Barnes (12 points) added a meaningful bucket as the clock ran out.

It didn’t take long for Houston to realize he was headed to Worcester’s DCU Center on Saturday to play for the state championship.

“Oh, that sunk in. That sunk in as soon as the buzzer went off,” he said.

But some of Houston’s teammates wanted to wait before moving on from Monday’s triumph. After changing in the locker room, Blakely and junior guard Tyler Kim took turns laying on the Celtics logo at midcourt, almost as if doing snow angels in the very circle where Kevin Garnett jumps center.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Kim said. “So why not?”

Designated Shooter: Drew Fiske missed his first two three-point attempts, but Brockton’s designated sharp-shooter isn’t one to become gun-shy. His mentality –- which goes something like, “If you’re hot, keep shooting, and if you’re not hot, shoot until you are” –- resulted in two crucial makes.

The backup guard sank back-to-back three-pointers to even the score at 44-all to end the third quarter, unleashing a primal scream after drilling a three in front of Brockton’s bench to beat the quarter buzzer.

The first three came from behind the NBA arc.

“It was deep. Coach usually yells at me for shooting so deep, but I can hit them,” said Fiske.

“That’s the new game in high school. Shoot that ball deeper, deeper, deeper. I tell them, ‘We can get it to you at the line, you don’t have to be way out there,’” Boen said. “But he’s a tremendous shooter. He does that in practice all the time –- bang, bang, bang. And it’s great, because it teaches us to cover three-point shooters like Charlestown has. We say in practice, ‘You can’t let him have that shot.’”

Hoxter’s Hot Hand: After Fiske knotted the score to end the third quarter, Hoxter pieced together a personal 9-2 flurry to give Charlestown a 53-46 lead with 5:35 left.

Elusive in the half-court offense and explosive in the open court, the point guard continuously paraded into the paint.

“He was doing a nice job clearing out. They have two three-point shooters who you can’t leave, so we were having trouble giving help on [Hoxter],” said Boen. “He was killing us. He was going here, there and everywhere. Those right-handed shots he made were fantastic, because he’s a lefty. Every one he made was all net. I kept thinking, ‘That’s not a good shot,’ and swish, swish, swish.”

Brockton switched to a 1-3-1 trap a couple possessions later and the Boxers’ comeback ensued. Hoxter managed just four points the rest of the way.

“It got to the point our offense wasn’t doing anything, and we really had to change the tempo of the game,” Boen explained. “It worked. I’ll assume [Charlestown coach Edson Cardoso’s] players are such good players that if they hadn’t been surprised by it, they would have torn it apart. Because you usually can’t do that when the other team has a couple great shooters like he has.”

Once the game tightened, Brockton switched from the trap because Boen feared Charlestown would adjust. But the coach still had a trick up his sleeve to slow Hoxter: guard Will Baker.

“He was dribbling the ball and hurting us,” Boen said of Hoxter, “and Baker’s probably our best on-dribble defender. And he did steal that one from him, which was a great steal.”

The steal Boen referred to came with the score knotted at 57-all and less than a minute remaining in regulation. Hoxter dribbled out front as Charlestown had a chance to seize the lead, but Baker hounded him, drew a steal, and even drew a foul on Hoxter during the scramble for the ball.

Baker missed both the resulting free throws, but redeemed himself by sinking the finishers in overtime.

D1 South Boys: Brockton 57, Madison Park 48

March, 10, 2012
3/10/12
8:13
PM ET
BOSTON, Mass. — Brockton will make its much-anticipated return to the Garden floor as the top-seeded Boxers displaced No. 2 seed Madison Park (19-3) with a 57-48 victory last night in the Div. 1 South finals at the Clark Athletic Center on the campus of UMass Boston.

The Boxers (22-2) held the Cardinals to 15 field goals at a 27.8 percent clip for the game, and clamped down hard in the final minute to set up a date with Charlestown, which knocked off Lexington in tonight's Div. 1 North final in Lowell, on Monday night.

“We’ve been waiting for a team like this to play defense against,” said Boxers head coach Bob Boen. “My big guys are getting tired of covering those 3-point players. They were very happy that they could stay in that lane and help out in what I call ‘normal’ defense with ‘normal’ help positions, instead of chasing guys out on the 3-point line.”

Sayvonn Houston had 13 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks while holding Cardinals’ big man Dakim Murray to eight points — seven of those coming in the first half.

“I just had to keep my hands up,” said the 6-foot-6 Houston. “They have a lot of size and rebounders, so I knew I had to get in position, box out and rebound.”

Will Baker, Jaylen Blakely and Jamal Reuben took care of the perimeter defense as they got in the passing lane on sever plays in the final two-plus minutes of regulation.

“We just wanted to get to every ball,” said Baker. “Coach told us to work hard and we just wanted to play aggressively. That’s what coach told us right before the game and that was the game plan.”

Stewart in Foul Trouble: David Stewart has meant so much to Madison Park on the defensive and offensive ends of the court this season, and in the biggest game of the season he could only sit and watch for the majority of the game with foul trouble.

He picked up two fouls in the first half and picked up two more in the third quarter a good 80 feet from his own basket to slow down any kind of flow he had with his game.

“Foul trouble and a couple of chippy fouls," said Cardinals head coach Dennis Wilson. "I wasn’t happy about that.”

Boen was planning on taking on both Murray and Stewart for the majority of the game, especially after seeing the success the two had against Franklin in the first half of the previous round.

“They needed both of their big guys,” said Boen. “Both big guys together were giving us a lot of trouble. When one or the other was out we relaxed a little, and we relaxed a little bit too much I think.”

When Stewart was able to stay in the game he made all the difference for Madison Park to keep things close. Stewart had 10 of the Cardinals 11 points in the third quarter and he finished with 16 in the second half after only having a single free throw in the first half.

Baker Steps Up: Baker might be the second point guard that comes into the game for the Boxers, but the ball was left in his hands in the second half as his team was trying to stave off the Cardinals.

“He got the game moving. We got off to a good start, we slowed down and then William came in and got us rolling again.”

Added Baker: “That’s what my role is. My role is to get opportunity for teammates when they are open.”

Baker -- who also added seven assists and four steals — picked off a pass on the opening possession of the second quarter and put it off the glass on the other end. Baker also set up Drew Fiske for a 3-pointer off a good dribble penetration and found Houston a couple times in the second half as he was able to create off the dribble.

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