Boston High School: IAABO Board 130 Classic

IAABO Board 130: Andover 74, No. 8 Everett 54

February, 16, 2014
Feb 16
DANVERS, Mass. –- David Giribaldi had a feeling Sunday’s showdown at Everett could be a big night for himself. He even knew it before the opening tip.

“You kind of know going into it when you have a nice shootaround before the game,” Giribaldi said, “I definitely could feel that coming into it.”

Feel it, indeed. Giribaldi, a junior guard, totaled 34 points on Sunday for the Golden Warriors, teaming up with junior center Connor Merinder (14 points, 13 rebounds) to lead Andover past Everett at the IAABO Board 130 Classic, 74-54.

For Andover coach Dave Fazio though, Sunday’s performance from Giribaldi was nothing out of the ordinary.

“He’s been doing it for 17 games, same old story -– he’s just relentless, he plays hard. He’s a killer, he attacks, attacks, attacks, we’re up 20 and there’s no such thing as a bad shot -- he just keeps throwing them up,” Fazio said.

Merinder the ‘glue guy’ for Andover: At many points on Sunday, Merinder’s play perfect reflected the in-your-face, hard-nosed style of defense that Fazio preaches to his players. An athletic 6-foot-5 forward, Merinder was all over the offensive glass and showed off his touch by hitting several shots outside of the paint.

“At the end of the day, with Merinder we’ve won 15 games, and without him we can’t win three games,” Fazio said, “He gets every rebound, he’s our defensive force inside, everybody in our program knows how important he is. [Giribaldi] is our offensive killer, but Merinder controls everything. Everybody knows we just have to take care of that kid and give him some love on offense -– he’s been that way the whole year.”

The role of tough guy certainly isn’t meant for everybody, but it’s a role that Merinder has come to embrace this year –- asserting himself as a dominant post presence and reliable defensive rebounder.

“I’m usually the one who gets the majority of the rebounds. We try to get everybody involved with rebounding and boxing out, but I know that being the tallest one on the team that’s its my responsibility to get the majority of the rebounds," Merinder said. “When we can come out with a lot of energy, the bench has energy and the starting five has energy, we know that we can compete with anybody.”

Fazio, who has preached energy, defensive intensity, and fundamentals to his team all year, seconded Merinder’s all-or-nothing attitude. Everett’s 54 points on Sunday was their second lowest scoring total of the season, something Fazio and his team take great pride in.

“That’s our staple," he said. "As I said to the kids: ‘you have the opportunity to go against a great team. Let’s do what we do.’ We’ll make our adjustments along the way, but that’s what we do.”

Playoff preparation: At this juncture of the season, the main goal for coaches of playing in big tournaments before the MIAA playoffs is getting their players prepared for playing in different gyms against seldom-seen opponents. The IAABO Board 130 Classic has brought just that for the Golden Warriors, who will take on St. John’s Prep on Monday.

“The more teams we play and the different ways in which they play, it helps prepare you so that there aren’t any surprises in the tournament," Fazio said. "That’s a pressing team, we’ll see somebody who presses or does a diamond or something like that. It just gives you an opportunity to prepare for it."

A loaded offensive team with as much firepower as any team in the state, Sunday will certainly be looked at as a learning experience for Everett. Gary Clark led Everett with 19 points and eight rebounds, but the Crimson Tide struggled with Andover’s ball pressure, as well as the 2-3 zone the Golden Warriors went to in the second half. That being said, Fazio will be hoping to not see Everett on the opposite bench again anytime soon.

“I know I don’t want to see Everett in the tournament cause I think they’re pretty damn good,” Fazio said. “I think Everett’s a lot better than they showed today. We’ll take the win, we’re happy, we get to play another good team tomorrow. We really just want to get ready for the tournament, that’s how you judge. The whole thing at the end of the day is to be tournament ready.”

IAABO Board 130 Classic schedule announced

February, 9, 2014
Feb 9
The fourth annual IAABO Board 130 Classic will be played Feb. 16-17 at St. John's Prep in Danvers.

Defending champion Lynn English headlines the boys field, which includes Andover, Everett and St. John’s Prep. The girls division will be contested by Boston Latin, Central Catholic, Newton South and Whittier Tech.

The schedule is as follows:

Sunday, Feb. 16

2 p.m. – Boston Latin vs. Whittier Tech girls

3:45 p.m. – Newton South vs. Central Catholic girls

5:30 p.m. – Andover vs. Everett boys

7:15 p.m. – Lynn English vs. St. John's Prep boys

Monday, Feb. 17

2 p.m. – Girls consolation

3:45 p.m. – Boys consolation

5:30 p.m. – Girls championship

7:15 p.m. – Boys championship

A player from each team will receive a scholarship. Since starting the tournament in 2011, IAABO Board 130 has awarded $10,000 in scholarships.

“We want to be able to help student-athletes while showcasing some great talent," said Board 130 President Mark Shapiro of Swampscott.

IAABO Board 130 is an Essex County-based chapter of the International Association of Approved Basketball Officials. The organization has more than 400 members who officiate basketball games from the youth to collegiate levels.

IAABO 130: No. 2 Prep 64, No. 3 Central Catholic 62

February, 18, 2013
LAWRENCE, Mass. –- Sean Connolly’s hands shot up in near disbelief as Drex Costello pulled up for a 22-footer with the game tied and six seconds left in the fourth quarter.

Costello’s three-point attempt swooshed, pushing Prep (18-1) to a 64-62 victory over Central Catholic (16-4) in front of a standing-room only crowd at the IAABO Board 130 Classic.

After the game, Connolly candidly described his thought process as he saw his captain pull up for the shot.

“Uh, what are you doing?” he said with a laugh. “It wasn’t a great shot, but he’s hit big shots for us all year...He’s been our guy at the end of shot clocks and the end of games all year. Kid hits tough shots all the time.”

Costello -- who was 0-for-4 from three-point range through the first 29 minutes of the game -- hit two deep treys in the final two minutes, including the aforementioned game-winner.

“I really didn’t know how much time was left, I thought it was going to be a buzzer-beater,” Costello said. “Then I looked up at the clock and there was five seconds left. If I didn’t hit the [three-pointer] before, I wouldn’t have took that shot. I felt the confidence, I felt like I could make it.”

Costello, who has been known all years as Prep’s go-to offensive player and key defensive stopper, finished with 16 points in all. Junior guard Quentin Bullen also added 16 for Prep, doing so on just six shots from the field.

Bullen comes out strong: Bullen wasn’t even sure he’d be ready to play against Central on Sunday night. He hasn’t practiced for the past few days because of an ankle injury, but said he couldn’t miss out on an opportunity to help his team beat Central on their own floor.

“I figured I’d throw on the brace and go out there and try, this was a big game,” he said.

Bullen provided the spark that helped Prep develop a 17 point halftime lead. He scored 14 points in the first half, it was a confidence booster that the sharpshooter needed.

“That was the first time that he really felt the confidence that he could score like that,” Costello said. “It was awesome to see him do that, he’s one of my best friends, it was just great to see him do that.”

He’s known as a shooter who can heat up at any point in time, but Bullen has uncharacteristically had some trouble shooting the ball this year. He said he never got down on himself though, and the support from his captain was a big reason why.

“I haven’t been shooting too well this season, but Drex keeps telling me ‘keep on shooting, keep on shooting’,” Bullen said.

On Bullen, Connolly added, “He’s a guy we’re going to need if we’re going to make a run in the tournament. We need him to give us those big minutes like he did tonight.”

Switching to zone: Staring down a 17-point halftime deficit, Central coach Rick Nault had some inspiring words for his team in the locker room at halftime, especially as Prep had already beaten Central one other time this year.

“I said that considering we lost to them in the first game, I thought [our guys] would have more pride in their performance than what we had in the first half," he said. "They came out in the second half with a different approach, and brought us back in the game.”

A big reason why Central was able to close down the lead was because of the extended 2-3 zone that Nault integrated for the majority of the third quarter and the first couple minutes of the fourth. Bullen hit two threes in the first half for Prep, while sophomore Ben Judson hit one of his own, but Nault thought that Prep was having far too easy a time with getting open shots.

“[It was] just to give a different look, we were kind of struggling for a bit," Nault said. "I thought it helped us tonight, it changed the tempo of the game a little bit. It allowed us to creep back in [the game]. We had a chance to make a play and get the win, but unfortunately we weren’t able to do so.”

Central appeared to be gaining momentum after junior guard Tyler Nelson hit a three-pointer at the end of the third quarter to bring the Raiders within five. Minutes later, Nelson hit another three-pointer to tie the game at 53 with just under five minutes to go. The Raiders led until Costello hit the first of his two threes in the last two minutes.

At moments in the second half, Connolly said the zone put his guards into a funk.

“It’s just a little different look, you’re not running your man sets," Connolly said. "They just changed it up to get us out of our rhythm a little bit, but I thought we did an alright job attacking it. When they went man again, I thought we were too stationary--dribbling the ball around a little too much instead of moving it.”

Berroa doesn’t quit: It was a bittersweet senior night celebration for Joel Berroa. The 6-foot-4 forward came out and played perhaps the best game of his career, but even behind 25 points, 11 rebounds, and five blocked shots, he was not quite able to lift the Raiders to a win.

Nelson (15 points) was unable to do much scoring in the first half because of all the attention Prep’s defense was giving him, while forward Nick Cambio (eight points, 12 rebounds) was often forced out of his comfort zone by Prep’s interior defenders. Through it all, Berroa’s effort was probably the only consistent one that Central saw all night.

“He’s a man, he played like a man," Nault said. "The kid is so passionate in everything he does, he plays with so much intensity and wants it so bad.

“I said to him in the locker room that I was extremely proud of our comeback, but [also] the way he played for 32 minutes. He tried to make every play to help us win on the offensive end, and he had some huge blocks on the defensive end. My heart hurts for him right now.”

Costello saw firsthand the amount of second and third chance opportunities that Berroa gave Central over the course of the game. After Costello hit the three to put Prep up 64-61 with five seconds left, the Eagles fouled Tyler Nelson to put Central at the free throw line with under three seconds to go.

Nelson made the first, and Berroa got the rebound after Nelson intentionally missed the second attempt. Berroa’s putback attempt, however, was off the mark. After squeezing out the win, Costello had nothing but complimentary words for his opponent.

“Joel Berroa is an animal," Costello said. "He’s one of the hardest kids to box out that I’ve ever seen. Our big guys did their best on him, but he killed us on the boards.”

Central Catholic will take on Springfield Central on Monday at 3:45 p.m. in the consolation game, while St. John’s Prep will play Lynn English at 7:15 for the IAABO Board 130 Classic title.

IAABO 130: Lynn English 81, No. 10 Springfield Central 73

February, 18, 2013
LAWRENCE, Mass. -– Erick Rosario was asked about his flammable night in the IAABO Board 130 Classic, a career-high 38 points on 13-of-19 from the field in a surprise 81-73 upset of No. 10 Springfield Central in Central Catholic's Memorial Gymnasium, and the shy Lynn English sophomore mumbled a few terse clichés.

But when the 5-foot-10 guard was asked about the team’s frenetic pace, and whether it was tiring (it wasn’t), his head coach Mike Carr couldn’t help but chime in from beyond his shoulder.

“Tell them about the stairs,” he said with a smile.

Rosario let out a giggle. “We go hard,” he said of the daily post-practice routine, an intense 10-minute session involving sprints up and down the four-story steps of his high school.

At times, the Bulldogs’ pace became more chuck-and-duck than run-and-gun. Other times, it was just plain blitzkrieg. All of it overwhelmed the Golden Eagles (15-3) more and more as the game wore on, turning a 35-31 halftime lead into double-digits as the forced turnovers and ensuing fast breaks continued to mount.

In all, the Eagles committed 37 turnovers for the game, unable to cleanly break the full court man-to-man press of the Bulldogs (14-5). Things began to unravel late in the third quarter, after Central’s Ju’uan Williams darted through the lane with a euro-step and completed a three-point play to tie it at 44.

The Bulldogs took a 54-51 lead into the final frame, and shot out of the gates with a 12-4 run to build a comfortable cushion. Fueling the run was the play of Rosario and junior Freddy Hogan, who combined for 10 steals in the final frame.

One particular sequence at the start of the fourth put them over the top. First, Central’s Josh Malone was trapped near the scorer’s table by Rosario, who then lobbed the ball downcourt to Hogan for an easy lay-in. The next time down, Hogan came up with a steal near the volleyball line and threw a quick dish to Rosario.

The next time down, Rosario shimmied a defender with a euro-step and foul, completing the three-point play. That was followed up with another Rosario strip-and-rip fast break layup, followed by an unforced error from Central for a 67-55 English lead with 5:03 to go.

“If we’re not playing that style, we’re not a very good basketball team,” Carr said. “I think we wore them down in the first half, with that style I don’t think they’re used to it, the up and down. We’re growing, we’re getting better as a team. We’re young. I just think it’s our style, it’s starting to make us a better basketball team.”

Central head coach Mike Labrie conceded that the pressure -– in particular, the on-ball pressure from Hogan and Rosario – was at a level they’re not accustomed to.

“We haven’t faced that kind of pressure all year,” he said. “So, I think this is a good experience for us. It’s kind of embarrassing, frustrating, but I think we’ll be better for it.

“I don’t think I’ve ever coached a team that’s committed that many turnovers in a game. But you’ve got to give credit, they kept after it too. They didn’t get tired. We weren’t strong with the ball at all. We shot over 60 percent from the floor, so when we got shots up we were in good shape.”

Senior center Ben Bowden was the only other Bulldog in double-figures, with 16 points. Hogan turned in an impressive stat line otherwise, tallying seven steals and four assists, while sophomore guard Stevie Collins and junior forward Danny Lukanda pitched in with eight points apiece.

Central, dressing just nine players, had four of its five starters in double-figures. Senior wing Kamari Robinson led the Eagles with 22 points, while Cornelius Tyson (15), Ju’uan Williams (13) and his cousin Cody Williams (11) all played significant hands.

The Eagles’ fifth starter, 6-foot-8 sophomore phenom Chris Baldwin, had just seven points on 3-of-5 from the field, but was big on the defensive end. He totaled 15 rebounds -– all of them defensive -– and blocked five shots.

Running –- to a stand still: At times, the Bulldogs’ tempo resembled something from Paul Westhead’s famous “seven seconds or less” squads at Loyola Marymount, heaving long outlet passes upcourt immediately after a basket and wasting no time on the shot clock.

Other times, surprisingly enough, they were patient with the ball, running the clock down and working to get an open look. For all the talk of steal after steal, and frenetic speeds up and down the court, English also demonstrated patience in the half-court.

“It’s something we talk about, too. We run the flex quite a bit, and it’s a methodical offense,” Carr said. “It takes a while. Sometimes during the course of the season, because we’re so up and down, the first pass in the flex they shoot it. The last couple of days we’ve improved on that, and they did a great job today coming off screens.”

Running –- to a marathon: After each practice, Carr has his team run up and down the four flights of stairs in the school building, adding on to an already-heavy concentration on conditioning.

“Even our basketball drills, our first hour is up and down the court,” Carr said. “Every drill, we do man-to-man defensive drills…It’s just constant, we don’t stop for an hour, then we get our shooting in.”

That grueling routine paid off in games like tonight’s, where the backcourt looked like it could run all night. Hogan and Rosario were relentless in the Bulldogs’ full court man-to-man pressure, picking up their man immediately, staying on their hip and denying clean passes.

“This style, you give up layups, you give up open looks,” Carr said. “It’s more that we feel we wear teams down as the game goes. I feel we’ve had some success with that.”

Coming on strong: On paper, the Bulldogs figure to be a preseason favorite in 2013-14, with the graduation of just one player – Bowden, who is signed with Vanderbilt’s baseball program for next year. But lo and behold, since their Jan. 9 loss to Danvers , they have won 10 of their last 11 games, the lone blemish a one-point loss to Beverly.

That Danvers loss put the Bulldogs at 4-4 on the season. One month later, they’re looking at potentially a No. 6 seed in a loaded Division 1 North bracket, good enough to earn a first-round home game.

“I couldn’t be more proud of where we’ve come from the beginning of the season to now,” Carr said. “I said at the beginning of the season, we’re a young team and we’ll get better. Over the last week or two, it’s been a steady progression. I think our tempo, and everyone’s understanding of what we want, is why we’re starting to have success.”

Up Next: With the win, Lynn English moves on to Monday's finals against St. John's Prep, which survived a late rally from Central Catholic in the nightcap before a capacity crowd, 64-62. The boys final goes down at 7:15 p.m. and will conclude the two-day tournament. Springfield Central will face Central Catholic in the consolation game, at 3:45 p.m.