LAWRENCE, Mass. –- If the second quarter was the only quarter that counted, Lynn English would have knocked out the number one seed. Central Catholic broke Lynn broke the Bulldogs’ full court press in the third quarter and walked away with a double digit victory in the Board 130 Basketball Classic championship, shocking Catholic Central captain and tournament MVP Jimmy Zenevitch.
“Definitely surprising,” said Zenevitch, ”to win by 26. I was expecting a four point game, eight point game because we lost to them by 20 two years ago in the states.”
Zenevitch (22 points, six rebounds) scored four points in the final quarter for the Raiders (19-1) before fouling out, but the few minutes he had, he did not play with his ordinary potency. “Defensively, I played a little more conservative. I didn’t go for any blocks, and when kids drove the lane, I didn’t reach; I just put my hands up.”
Stepping in for Zenevitch down low for a decisive edge over the Bulldogs (19-2) were sophomores Joel Berroa (nine points, four rebounds) and Doug Gemmel (nine points, nine rebounds).
“Berroa’s been key for us all year,” Central Catholic head coach Rick Nault said. “He was with us last year and won the state tournament with us. He’s an experienced guy. I thought the key guy that was huge for us was… Doug Gemmel off the bench. When we made that run in the third quarter, he was a big part of that in terms of he hit his shot, made a couple of free throws (four-four), he got us a couple of huge rebounds. When we can get contributions like that from our bench guys, it’s so helpful.”
“At practice, I’m always looking for my shot. When I got it and I was open, I just fired,” Gemmel said of his scoring. On the boards, play begins before the ball is in the air, especially against more developed and taller opponents. “I find the man first, box him out, and then go for the rebound. I just thought o myself every ball needed to be mine.”
Lynn English head coach Buzzy Barton had in mind to stifle the main scorers for Central Catholic, and it kind of worked. Captain Luis Puello only had two points, but Evan Sheehan woke up and snapped his shooting slump, dropping 20, including four 3-pointers, and contributing on the defensive end with four steals.
“I’ve been missing a lot of threes, haven’t had my hot hand,” said Sheehan. “I didn’t have the confidence to shoot it. I’ve been working on my three the last couple of days and coach told me to keep shooting it. Once I hit that first one [in the first quarter], found that corner shot, he said keep shooting. I tried keeping it the same shot every time, it kept going in, so I kept doing it.”
“When kids step up like that… it’s a confidence boost to the team,” said Zenevitch. “It shows that if everyone plays their role, we’ll win by even more.”
“It’s one game,” added Barton. As the regular season winds down and the postseason is within view, his focus is on the next time they may see the reigning champs. “Luckily, it’s not the state tournament, and we live to fight another day.”
English was led in scoring by senior Travonne Berry-Rogers (16 points), who fouled out in the fourth quarter, alnng with Josh Castillo (12) and Keandre Stanton (13), the latter of whom also added three blocks.