Boston High School: Josh Syska

Recap: No. 5 St. John's Prep 57, No. 8 BC High 43

January, 22, 2013

BOSTON -– The saying is defense wins championships and St. John’s Prep is well on their way to a Catholic Conference title because of their defense, especially in Tuesday night’s road win at BC High.

No. 5 St. John’s Prep (12-0) limited No. 8 BC High (8-3) to just 19 second half points in their 57-43 romp, moving them to 12-0 overall, and in complete control of the Catholic Conference.

“We did a good job pressuring the ball and had good help side rotation,” said Prep coach Sean Connolly. “Guys are stepping up and stopping penetration, and we held them to one shot for the most part. We work on defense probably 75 percent of our practice so tonight it definitely showed. Some nights it doesn’t show, but they did a good job defensively tonight.”

The game was knotted up at 24 at the half, but because of tenacious defense and poor shooting from BC High, the Prep was able to pull away and run away with the win in the second half.

St. John’s went on a 13-0 run to begin the fourth quarter, but their run started midway thru the third quarter on sophomore Ben Judson’s back-to-back three-pointers.

His sharp shooting began a 23-6 run which spanned until their were just under four minutes left in the game when BC High scored their first points of the fourth quarter. They finished the quarter with just two made field goals.

“We were a little more aggressive in attacking their zone in the second half,” Connolly said. “We also did a good job defensively, especially in the third quarter along in the fourth where we got a lot of good stops defensively and hit some shots down the other end.”

[+] EnlargeSt. John's Prep basketball
Brendan Hall/ESPNBoston.comSt. John's Prep turned up the defensive intensity in the second half, holding BC High to just 19 points over the final 16 minutes.
BC High used their patented aggressive zone defense, which did work at times, forcing 21 Prep turnovers, but St. John's learned to stay patient and were able to attack when given the opportunity.

It was a back and forth first half with BC High leading by two at the end of one, and then scoring the final five points of the half to tie it up at 24 going into the break. From there on in it was all St. John’s, as they outscored BC High 33-19 in the second half.

Leading the way for the Prep was senior forward Josh Syska who had a team-high 15 points. Judson was the next leading scorer, finishing with 14, 12 of which came from behind the three-point line. He now has 23 three point field goals this year.

“He’s up and down because he is young, but when he is shooting well he is very tough to stop,” Connolly said. “He has a very smooth shot and is going to be a very good player. He is still coming into his own body and has gotten better everyday.”

Max Butterbrodt, a junior, had a solid all around game, finishing with 11 points and made his presence felt in the paint all game long.

Senior Drex Costello came into the game as the Prep’s leading scorer, but was limited to just seven points, all of them coming in the second half. This didn’t come back to hurt the team, as other players stepped up, something which has a lot to do with the Prep’s unbeaten record.

“That’s why we’re having such a good year -- everyone is stepping up,” said Connolly. “We have eight or nine guys that are stepping up and giving us good minutes night in and night out so there isn’t one guy you can focus on with us as we spread it out which is important.”

BC High was led by its senior backcourt of Jameilen Jones and Charles Collins who finished with 18 and 12 points respectively, but needed other players to step up and contribute as the rest of the team only managed 13 points.

The win completes a season sweep for the Prep over BC High as just over two weeks ago St. John’s edged BC High 67-58 back at their place.

Although the Prep is 12-0, and very close to wrapping up a Catholic Conference title, they are still taking it one game at a time and not looking too far ahead.

“The coaches have done a good job of keeping us focused and working at the task at hand,” commented senior captain Tyler Dooley, who finished with seven points. “We’re trying to win the Catholic Conference title right now -- that’s our first step. Then, we’re on to the state tournament where we want to win a state title. We have two more tough games in this conference.

"We need to beat Catholic Memorial, who is really tough at their place and then we have to beat Malden Catholic as well. So yes, it is nice to be 12-0, but the coaches are doing a good job of keeping us focused and we’re looking forward to finishing up this conference and moving onto the tournament.”

Free throws were a major story in the game as St. John’s was able to get to the line a lot more than BC High, and when they got there they shot the ball at a much better clip.

“We wanted to attack their zone,” said Connolly. “We were trying to rotate into the gaps to try and get their zone moving and then attack it. I think we did a pretty good job of doing that and then we got to the line which is what we wanted to do.”

The Prep got to the free throw line 28 times, going 22-28, for a 79 percent clip. On the other hand, BC High only got to the line 19 times, and made just 12, which equates to shooting 63 percent.

St. John’s made their final nine free throws of the game, not giving BC High any chance of mounting a come back.

Recap: St. John's Prep 64, Charlestown 50

December, 23, 2012
CHARLESTOWN, Mass. -– If there was any doubt going into the weekend on whether or not St. John’s Prep had the experience to win this year, consider those doubts halted.

Behind 18 points from senior captain Tyler Dooley, Prep knocked off a streaking Charlestown squad on the road on Saturday, 64-50, to move to 5-0 on the season.

Charlestown (2-3) looked as if it had overcome their offensive woes of their first two games of the season, especially after picking up two wins earlier this week over Brighton and East Boston. However, Prep was able to shut down star Townie guard Taris Wilson (five points) and forward Alijah Robinson (10), and forced Charlestown to make rushed decisions and take quick shots.

“We were just going to try to keep them in the halfcourt,” said head coach Sean Connolly. “We didn’t want to let them get too many transition buckets because they’re so athletic and they’re so talented.”

The Eagles led Charlestown 33-26 going into the half, thanks to the impressive first half performance from Dooley and the Eagles’ defensive effort.

The Townies made quite a run early in the third quarter, forward Freddy Oliviera scored six straight points to bring Charlestown within a point, at 38-37. At a pivotal point for Prep, their slew of guards came up big in the dribble-drive offense, slamming the door shut down the stretch.

Eagles reload: It was unclear how good the Eagles would be after losing several talented players from last year’s team. Marcos Echevarria was supposed to be the Prep’s starting point guard before transferring to St. Mark’s, and 6-foot-5 forward Isaiah Robinson also left for prep school -– making his move to Salisbury School, in Connecticut. Prep also graduated several lead contributors off of last year’s team, including thousand-point scorer Steve Haladyna, sharpshooter Mike Carbone, and 6-foot-4 swingman Freddy Shove.

Six-foot-4 guard Ben Judson, just a sophomore, is one of the MIAA’s most promising talents. A lefty with deep range on his jumpshot and an ability to take most any defender to the rim off the dribble, he scored seven points down the stretch to help the Eagles seal the game. Max Burt (13 points) and Drex Costello (12 points) both hit big shots to lengthen Prep’s lead in the fourth quarter. After the game, Connolly praised his captains -- Costello, Dooley, and Josh Syska -- for their leadership.

“With Tyler, Drex, Josh, we’ve got some great leaders this year,” he said, “They play hard and set the tempo for us every day.”

Dooley comes up big: Tyler Dooley was Prep’s best player on Saturday, playing with an incredible amount of toughness and tenacity, a style of play that was clearly contagious to his teammates. Dooley attempted 13 free throws, converting 10 of them, and took some of the Townies hardest fouls -– getting up each time and continuing his playmaking ways. Showing a versatile game and an ability to run Connolly’s offense well, he also finished the game with 6 assists.

“He controlled the tempo for us, he does such a good job running the offense and obviously he’s our best ballhandler, he’s the guy that makes us go,” Connelly said.

Slowing it down: Prep was 4-0 coming into the day, but had yet to face a team as talented as Charlestown. Connolly spent plenty of time game planning for the talented, athletic Townies, making an emphasis to his team to slow the game down, set up their offense, and maximize possessions.

“We were just trying to get some movement, cutting through the zone to try and spread them out. We’ve got some pretty good guards, so were kind of trying to spread them out, get guys getting into the gaps and kicking and getting open shots,” he said of their four-out offense that they put in to get open shots for their shooters.

Defensively, the Eagles got up in the face of Charlestown’s guards and forced them to make a play one-on-one, and the plan was successful, as the Townies generally struggled in the halfcourt.

“It’s a very good win, this is our toughest test by far so far this year,” Connoly said, “This is a very good win for us, beating a very talented Charlestown team. I’m very proud of the way the kids played.”