Boston High School: Jean Thomas

ESPN Boston's MIAA State Championship Picks

March, 16, 2012
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:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recap: No. 4 Brockton 69, No. 21 Mansfield 48

February, 7, 2012

BROCKTON, Mass. -– The Brockton Boxers wasted no time sprinting out of the gates in their contest with visiting Mansfield, with an 18-2 run to start the game.

Fueled over that span by eight points from Jahleel Moise and seven from Jean Thomas, they never looked back, knocking out the Hornets, 69-48.

“We played great at the start of the game,” said Brockton head coach Bob Boen. “We came out and played tough defense, we got the very big lead, I think we maybe made Mansfield lose a little bit of confidence there. They are a very good team. After that, it was kind of a struggle, back-and-forth, pretty even game. But we never let them get back in striking range.”

Brockton (12-1) again received a solid effort from 6-foot-6 senior center Sayvonn Houston, who recorded his second straight double-double with 18 points and 13 rebounds. When Mansfield (10-6) pulled to within 11 in the second quarter, Houston showed off his elite talent by heaving a full-court pass to a streaking Moise, who slammed it home.

“What really worked for us was inside and playing tough defense on them,” Houston said. “We know that everyone on that team can shoot. We had to get out and harass the shooters and get back on defense.”

After Houston’s court-long pass to Moise, he recorded a block on the other end, and then he went on to score the game's next six points to extend the lead back to 19.

“Sayvonn has been big and strong all year,” said Boen. “Again tonight [he] was able to clear himself some space, rebound the ball, and put it back in even he’s being pumped, and pushed and guys are landing on him. He’s strong enough that he can take a hit and still put the ball in the basket.”

The Boxers were able to convert offensive boards into points. Their athleticism showed at the other end, totaling eight blocks, but it really shined through in their transition game. The Hornets were never able to get a break, while the Boxers consistently pushed the ball.

Moise finished with 14 points and three blocks, while Thomas added eight boards.

“Jean’s very active,” Boen added. “He was able to get to a couple balls that maybe Sayvonn got a finger on and they were loose. Jean was able to jump up and get them and lay them back in. I think he got one that he flipped up a quick shot and missed, and Jahleel got it and he missed, and Sayvonn got it and laid it in. Between the three of them, they did a very nice job on the offensive boards.”

Confidence boost: Just two days removed from a thrilling overtime victory over previously-unbeaten Newton North, the Boxers were facing another Division 1 South tournament-bound team. Not only was Brockton able to take down the defending South champions, they were able to take the game by a comfortable margin.

“Well it’s a big game to beat these tournament teams,” said who. “We’re in a stretch here were we’re playing four tournament teams in a row. Each one does something a little different. I told these guys that Mansfield has been to the Boston Garden the last two years so their sort of the top program south of Boston. You have to go and beat them and show people we can beat anybody.”

Houston echoed the sentiments of his coach.

“It’s a really big win and confidence booster,” Houston said. “We knew we had to come here ready to play, you know what I mean, don’t let up. We’re going to keep working hard.”

A Bright Spot: Mansfield was coming off one of its worst shooting performances of the season Friday night against Hockomock rival King Philip. Although the shots weren’t falling in the first quarter, the Hornets were able to keep pace throughout the rest of the game, even outscoring the Boxers in the third quarter.

Mansfield’s Greg Romanko is third on the team in scoring, averaging 9.1 points a game, and finished the game with 14 points –- tied for the team-high with freshman Brendan Hill.

Now the Hornets will return to league play with a chance of securing the Kelley-Rex season crown with wins over Attleboro and Franklin.

Recap: No. 8 BC High 56, Brockton 41

December, 13, 2011
(Video courtesy of Lucas Shapiro)

DORCHESTER, Mass. -- What do you tell your star player after he goes 2-for-9 in the opening stanza of a game where buckets were hard to come by?

Keep going.

BC High junior forward and captain Jameilen Jones started the night off sour, but finished strong, totaling 16 points and six rebounds as the No. 8 Eagles downed rival Brockton, 56-41, in its season-opener in front of its home crowd at McNeice Pavilion.

Jones, a 6-foot-3 combo guard considered one of the top pure scorers in the Catholic Conference, got off to a rocky start. Facing tight man-to-man pressure in the lane from Brockton (1-1), and met immediately by his man when he brought the ball up, Jones was forced into some poor shooting decisions to start the night off. But he adjusted to the pressure well as the game endured, finishing the night nearly perfect through the final three quarters, going 7 of 8 from the field.

"I told Jameilen, we need you to shoot the ball," Eagles head coach Bill Loughnane said. "Even if it doesn't go in, it's a good shot for us. And it'll help other people along in the long run."

Said Jones, "Coach was telling me to just be confident with the ball and take the shots. I've got to bring it so that everyone else can get their confidence, too. I was just trying to keep shooting, don't let it get me down in the first quarter."

But it wasn't just about what he did with the ball that kept the Eagles ahead on a physical night where points were tough to come by. It was about what he did off the ball as well, creating open shots for teammates with his movement around the perimeter and across the baseline.

Trailing 29-18 at the break, the Boxers opened the third quarter on a 9-2 run to cut the Eagles' lead to 31-27, capped by a rare five-point play. Brockton's Jamal Reuben was knocked into his own bench as he nailed a three-pointer from the baseline; his ensuing errant free throw was scooped up by Sayvonn Houston (12 points, 12 rebounds, three blocks), and Jean Thomas was there for the put-back when the 6-foot-6 senior missed.

But the Eagles immediately responded, closing out the quarter on a 12-4 run. Jones came back on the next possession with a 12-foot leaner in the lane, and then followed up on the next possession down with a nice dish to Jared Collins from the elbow, setting up an easy 10-footer.

Closing out the run with a big block was Standy Merizier, leading to a silky transition three from Charles Collins (nine points).

"He's gonna see a lot of that this year, people keying on him," Loughnane said of Jones. "One of the things, he's very unselfish. If he has it, we want him to go. If he doesn't, he's willing to let a teammate go. That's one of his strengths."

Football mentality on the blocks: One of the Eagles' strength is its communication in the defensive end. BC High confused the Boxers at times with its 3-2 zone, efficiently trapped ballhandlers in the corners, and played some stifling rotations in man-to-man.

Dictating that physicality down low are forwards Oderah Obukwelu and Justin Roberts, no strangers to an elbow or two after playing key roles in the Eagles' Division 1 football Super Bowl championship run. At both ends of the court, they made things difficult for Houston, Reuben and forward Jerrod Shelby; in one key first-half possession, Roberts spun in front of two Brockton defenders and cleared out a wide-open 15-foot shot on the baseline for Pete Timmons, which he sank.

"They're really rough down there, real rough," Jones smiled. "They just finished playing varsity football, so they're still in that kind of football mode. It's good, because if they're tough down low and they've got the big man worried about the [physicality], then we're going to straight going to the basket."

Boen not satisfied: Brockton head coach Bob Boen came away disappointed with his team's play, calling it "bad from every part of the game", specifically with the effort down low.

"We got ourselves in a hole early by not boxing out and rebounding well," he said. "We played pretty good defense, but they got so many second shots that we were in a big hole at halftime. Offensively, they confused us with their zone defense again."

Boen did credit Shelby, a star wide receiver on the football team, with giving the Boxers some lift off the bench.

"I think he's going to help us out a lot, with his rebounding and his work on defense," Boen said.

Central provides tune-up: Loughnane conceded that a preseason scrimmage with Central Catholic last week helped them get prepared for tonight's physical tone. Central, which begins the season at No. 1 in ESPN Boston's statewide poll, is considered one of the state's best defensive teams; the Raiders also looked exceptionally efficient in a scrimmage last Sunday with St. Peter-Marian, one of the top teams in the Central Mass. region this winter.

"Central's a real physical, tough-minded team, and I really thought that helped us for a game like this," Loughnane said.

Said Jones, "That was a tough one, but we learned from it. We weren't too down about it, because they're a top team. It helped us out."