Boston High School: Justin Roberts

Comcast tourney: C'Town, Brockton advance

February, 18, 2012
2/18/12
11:04
PM ET



READING, Mass. -- Charlestown head coach Edson Cardoso was looking for more assertion on the defensive end in the second half of the Townies' Comcast/IAABO Board 27 Basketball Classic semifinal against BC High.

His players listened -- they held BC High without a field goal in the third quarter.

Then at the end, with the Townies picking up steam, Cardoso wanted more dribble penetration from his star junior swingman Tyrese Hoxter. Cardoso again got his wishes -- but not before getting goosebumps for a few moments.

Hoxter scored eight points over a span of three offensive possessions with under three minutes to go, giving the Townies the lead for good, but not before hanging by a thread. They watched as Eagles star Jameilen Jones got two good looks with under 15 seconds remaining, then exhaled after he missed both, earning a tough 46-45 comeback victory at Reading High's Hawkes Field House.

"I think everybody in the gym thought it was going in," BC High head coach Bill Loughnane said of Jones' final shot, a 20-footer from the top of the key off a long inbounds pass. "When it left his hands, it looked good. After that second bounce, unfortunately, it took a wrong bounce."

Said Hoxter, "Coach told us not to let up, just keep fighting through it. It was a long three minutes, it felt like it was longer than that, but we knew we could pull through it."

After holding the Eagles (13-5) without a field goal in the third quarter, thanks to some stingy 2-3 zone defense, the Townies (15-4) made their push in the final five minutes, going right through the heart of Loughnane's patented 1-3-1 zone.

It started with Hoxter (28 points), who was called for a charge, but saw his fortunes reverse quickly when a BC High player was called for a technical foul for some choice words a few seconds later. Omar Orriols sank the ensuing free throws to cut BC's lead to 39-37.

With 3:10 to go, Hoxter hit his first of two back-to-back free throws, this one from the left wing to tie it at 41-41. The next trip down, Hoxter lined up at the same exact spot and went through the same motion -- a quick pass across the perimeter to senior point guard Rony Fernandez (five assists), who hesitated then threw it back his way -- to make it 44-43.

The next trip down, Hoxter gathered at the right wing, drove through traffic and switched hands mid-air for one of his trademark windmill layups to make it 46-43. That gave him an impressive eight points in three consecutive touches; but it was also the final basket of the night for Charlestown.

"I had the confidence in my shot, and they [weren't] closing out on me quick enough," Hoxter said. "So I just let it fly."

Cardoso said it's the first time Hoxter hit back-to-back three's in a Charlestown uniform, so understandably the shot selection might have unnerved him a bit.

"We'll take it, but we were really looking for him to penetrate that top guy in the zone, throw Rony on the strong side," Cardoso said. "And once Rony's man yielded to Tyrese, to kick to Rony or drive."

He continued, chuckling, "My heart was beating real fast when he was taking those three's. But, he's a scorer, I think he took it with confidence and thought he was going to make it. I wasn't mad at him for making it."

Jones (11 points) missed a runner through the middle of the paint with under 15 seconds to go, and Orriols was there for the board, picking up a foul in the process. BC's Justin Roberts was there for the rebound when Orriols missed the front end of a one-and-one, giving Jones one final look at the basket that very nearly was a game-winner.

Jackson gives it a go: Contributing to the Townies' loss to Madison Park last Tuesday, which cost them the final spot in the Boston City Championship tournament this week, was injury of Tyrik Jackson, who sprained his right ankle.

The 6-foot-6 Jackson runs the floor well for a player his size, and does well catching and driving from the elbow. But a noticeable limp gave him limited mobility tonight, and thus he was relegated to the space around the basket.

Battling with Roberts and Oderah Obukwelu underneath, Jackson gave it a solid 17 minutes and played a big contribution to holding the Eagles without a field goal in the third quarter -- "When he was in there, he made a big difference for them," Loughnane noted.

Jackson finished with four rebounds, but made players entering the lane work for their buckets in what was a grueling defensive game.

"It shows some heart," Cardoso said. "I called him this morning and asked if he was alright. He said, 'Yeah Coach, I'll try and give it my best'. I said, 'If you can, yeah, great, if not rest for the state tournament'. But credit to him, he wanted to be out here with his teammates. I thought he gave us some solid minutes tonight."

NO. 1 BROCKTON 85, CAMBRIDGE 55

Sitting deadlocked at 22-22 after one quarter of play, the Boxers (16-1) quickly kicked it into high gear, leading 44-27 at the break and 63-37 after three quarters. Jaylen Blakely led the way with 23 points in the win, aided by a 4-for-5 effort from three-point range. Jamal Reuben added 18 points, while senior center Sayvonn Houston added 12.

Senior guard Edirson Correia led the Falcons (12-7) with 13 points in the loss.

Recap: No. 9 BC High 53, No. 1 Prep 47

January, 4, 2012
1/04/12
12:18
AM ET



DORCHESTER, Mass. -- Maybe the most effective way to slow down No. 1 St. John’s Prep is to play a zone defense, because that is what No. 9 BC High did Tuesday night, and came away with a 53-47 victory.

When Prep’s crisp ball movement was giving the BC High (4-2) defense fits early in the first quarter, BC High coach Bill Loughnane called a timeout.

From that point, his team played a zone defense that double-teamed the Prep (5-1)perimeter players whenever they caught the ball in the corner. This left a player open for a cross-court pass. When Prep tried those, the passes were in the air for so long it allowed BC High to rotate back to that side of the floor. To combat the defensive rotations, the Prep player would try to quickly throw the ball inside to either Isaiah Robinson or Owen Marchetti in the post.

There, they were often met by either BC High’s Justin Roberts, Oderah Obukwelu, or Pete Timmins, who had 8 blocks between the three of them.

“Their zone and their length really bothered us,” said Prep coach Sean Connolly. “We had trouble finishing in and around the hoop because they’re so long. We didn’t do a very good job reversing it against their zone. I thought BC High did a very good job of keeping us to one side and not being able to get ball reversals.”

Prep fell down 43-33 midway through the fourth quarter, but they would not go away quietly. After a Mike Carbone 3-pointer and a Steve Haladyna and-one, the lead was quickly cut down.

It a 45-42 game with one minute left, but Prep could not seem to get that basket they needed to tie the game up. With time running out, Connolly called out for his players to foul to stop the clock.

That put the game in the hands Jameilen Jones and Charles Collins at the free throw line. Jones was a perfect 4-of-4 in the final minute, while Collins was 3-of-4.

While the two appeared poised at the line and ultimately put the game away, the same could not be said for the BC High sideline.

“We were very happy to his those free throws, believe me,” said Loughnane. “We were biting our nails on the bench hoping they would go in.”

Regardless of how unsettling it may have been down the stretch, Loughnane felt it was a good win for his team.

“I thought they played better than us this game, but I thought one of the things we had to show was that we could play with a team such as St. John’s,” he said. “It’s just competing every play and finishing every play, and I thought, after a shaky start, that our guys did a nice job getting on that.”

Prep poor from the line: One aspect of the game that did not help Prep’s at all was their ineffectiveness from the free throw line. As a team, they were 10-of-22. Another problem was their inability to hit from beyond the 3-point arc. Sharpshooters Freddy Shove, Haladyna (15 points), and Carbone (eight) hit only five 3-pointers all game. Shove in particular had a quiet game. He had only one field goal in the game and was 2-of-7 from the free throw line.

“As a team, we were settling for way too many 3’s instead of attacking more,” said Connolly. “But you have to give BC High credit. They did a very good job. We didn’t shoot it well from the free-throw line, but that wasn’t really the issue. I think they out toughed us and they deserved to win tonight.”

“The biggest key for us defensively was keeping them off the free-throw line,” said Jameilen Jones (16 points). “Because Coach told us prior to that, they went 35-of-38 from the line [last week, against New Mission]. So we didn’t want them to get to the free-throw line.”

Swarming D: BC High’s defensive effort was one that other teams around the MIAA ought to take notice of. It had eight steals and 12 blocks, which helped set the tone throughout the game.

“We have to take advantage [of the teams’ height difference],” said Jones. “They were definitely confident coming into the game and ready to go. We play really aggressive defense and Justin [Roberts] and Oderah [Obukwelu] have great chemistry, so down in the post, they’re fine.”

The game-defining block came in the last minute of play. With Prep trying to close the deficit, Haladyna took a pass in the left corner and attempted to launch a 3-pointer. Seeing this, Obukwelu leaked out and jumped up just in time to block the shot and sent it out of bounds preserving the lead.

Ambitious schedule paying off: BC High might have two losses on the season, but it knows its best basketball is ahead of it. Especially when those two losses are against an undefeated team (Acton-Boxborough) and a one-loss team (Charlestown).

“We’re definitely confident, beating a No. 1 team,” said Jones. “I don’t think we’re going to go forward being nervous or anything like that. We’ve played pretty good teams coming up to this, so we should be fine.”

Recap: No. 8 BC High 56, Brockton 41

December, 13, 2011
12/13/11
11:51
PM ET
(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."

Ramey-Doe, O-line deliver for BC High

December, 3, 2011
12/03/11
10:36
PM ET


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – On the strength of Bartley Regan's right arm, BC High earned its berth in the Eastern Mass. Division 1 Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium.

But the passing game was option No. 2 in Saturday's final, thanks largely to an offensive line that fueled a first-rate running game against no-quit underdog Needham.

Deontae Ramey-Doe ran for 200 yards on 24 carries in BC High's 21-7 title-clinching win. But, just as quickly as Ramey-Doe hit the holes, he lauded the unheralded stars up front for ripping open those running lanes.

“They got real nasty,” said the 6-foot 1-inch, 180-pound senior, whose three touchdown runs included a highlight-reel 91-yard breakaway to the end zone, snapping a 7-all tie in the second quarter.

Who were the guys who enabled Ramey-Doe to gash the Rockets?

Left to right, across the line: Left tackle Justin Roberts, left guard Mike Prendeville, center Jake Durkin, right guard Jack McDonald and right tackle Bill Breen. Ends Jameson McShea, a Temple recruit, and Mark McGuire added to BC High's toughness in the trenches.

Make no mistake. Running the football requires attitude. BC High (10-3) certainly had it.

The Eagles averaged a whopping 7.7 yards per carry. Ramey-Doe, Luke Catarius (10 carries for 87 yards), James Moynahan and Regan combined for 39 rushes.

BC High's quartet tallied 300 of the offense's 360 total yards.

“Our game plan coming in was to mix it up (with the run and pass),” said BC High head coach Jon Bartlett, whose team led at halftime, 14-7. “We felt in the second half, we could establish the run more, so that's what we went to.”

Helping the head coach make that decision was the fact BC High lacked rhythm in the passing game.

So, Bartlett sent this message as the Eagles started the second half: Keep pounding the ball on the ground.

Those are words every offensive lineman loves to hear.

“It's the best feeling, just knowing that your running back can hit that hole and has open field in front of him,” said McDonald, a towering 6-foot-4, 270-pound junior. “There's nothing better than that.”

Case in point: Ramey-Doe's dagger 91-yard run.

Backed up at their 9-yard line after Andrew Murowchick's punt temporarily altered field position, the Eagles ran a shotgun draw. Ramey-Doe cut to McDonald's side of the line, where a gaping hole opened.

BC High's burner accelerated through it and raced down the right sideline. Ronnie Rosser nearly made a shoestring tackle 4 yards from the end zone. But Ramey-Doe fell forward across the goal line.

The offensive line continued to help kill clock in the third quarter. The Eagles orchestrated a 13-play drive over a span of six minutes, 40 seconds.

“We were all disappointed last year, not going to the playoffs,” said Breen, a 6-foot-2, 215-pound junior. “I know our whole team spent a lot of time in the weight room.”

It paid off.

Needham (9-4) routinely shifted along the defensive line. Yet, when the ball was snapped, the Eagles were routinely in position to provide a massive push.

“It's all attitude,” Breen said. “You have to want it.”

Recap: No. 5 BC High 16, No. 8 Xaverian 6

November, 5, 2011
11/05/11
2:02
AM ET


BOSTON – Preston Cooper might have been BC High’s lightning in a bottle, but Deontae Ramey-Doe packs plenty of thunder.

Now, as the No. 5 Eagles’ feature back, following Cooper’s season-ending injury against Everett, Ramey-Doe has kept up his counterpart’s stride. Along with a stifling defense, Ramey-Doe’s 206-yard, two-touchdown effort propelled the Eagles’ key 16-6 Catholic Conference victory over No. 8 Xaverian at Viola Stadium.

“Deonte runs hard,” Eagles head coach Jon Bartlett said. “We told him that we’re not expecting [him] to be Preston for the rest of the season, we just want him to run hard. And he did that tonight.”

Ramey-Doe had BC High (6-3, 2-0) to a 13-0 halftime lead after two second-quarter rushing touchdowns of 28 and 44 yards.

Meanwhile, the Eagles’ defense was downright dominant in the first 22 minutes, allowing just three yards of offense and holding the Hawks (5-4, 1-1) to a single first down.

Xaverian didn’t break up the Eagles’ shutout bid until the inside the two-minute warning on Austin DeCarr’s 32-yard pass to Mike Warren.

HOLDING THE LINE
Bartlett considers the Hawks’ linemen as the strength of the team, so he had to be pleased with the way his offensive and defensive linemen controlled the point of attack on both sides of the ball.

The Eagles offensive line of Bill Breen, Jake Durkin, Jack McDonald, Mike Prendeville and Justin Roberts along with fullback Luke Catarius and tight end Jameson McShea, gashed holes in the Hawks’ line, easily allowing Ramey-Doe entry to the second level of the Xaverian D.

Meanwhile, the Eagles defensive line was equally disruptive. Defensive end Adam Richard (3 tackles for loss) set up shop in the Hawks’ backfield along with McShea (sack).

Linebacker Zach West also killed a promising Hawks drive inside the red zone with an interception at the end of the third quarter.

“We used our speed to our advantage,” said McShea, a Temple commit. “They had a lot of big gaps that we took advantage of with our speed … We know that our linebackers can fill the holes.”

FILLING BIG SHOES
With Cooper and Ramey-Doe in the backfield, the Eagles had perhaps the most potent rushing duo in the state. And, while you might have thought BC High would lose its big-play ability with the loss of Cooper, it’s just been more of the same with Ramey-Doe in his last two games making the start.

“I just have to do what I can do,” the 6-foot, 180-pound senior back said.

Cooper was in attendance, watching the game from the sideline. So when Ramey-Doe scored his second touchdown of the game, he made it a point to give a high five to his injured teammate on the way back to the bench area.

But now Ramey-Doe must forge his own identity, which to no small extent will be the Eagles’ offensive identity down the stretch run of the season.

So far, pretty good.

“We’re different runners, me and Preston,” Ramey-Doe said. “I like to run between the tackles a little bit more. But as long as the linemen keep doing their job, like they did tonight, we’ll be all set.”

DOING IT FOR NO. 4
Cooper remains on the forefront of the Eagles’ minds.

Many of the BC High players carved out No. 4 on their eye black strips. Cooper’s white jersey hung on the kicking net a few feet from where the Wareham native watched Friday’s game.

In the waning seconds of the Eagles’ wins, fellow captains Bartley Regan and Gordon McLeod came over to congratulate Cooper on the win. He was also a part of the celebratory postgame breakdown with his teammates forming a semicircle around his wheelchair.

“He has a lot of spirit for us and just having him around is great,” said McShea, who typically carpools with Cooper to school on the way from the Cape. “I love having him back on the field with us now.”

Xaverian (5-4, 1-1) 0 0 0 6 -- 6
BC High (6-3, 2-0) 0 13 0 3 -- 16


2nd quarter
BC -Deontae Ramey-Doe 28-yard run (kick blocked)
BC - Ramey-Doe 44-yard run (Jackson Bockhurst kick)

4th quarter
BC - Bockhurst 30-yard field goal
X - Mike Warren 32-yard pass from Austin DeCarr (pass failed)

BC High cruises past Marshfield in D1 South

March, 4, 2011
3/04/11
1:06
AM ET
MARSHFIELD, Mass. -– No. 4 Marshfield tied up the game at 13 with 1:40 left in the first quarter, but that was as close as the Rams came to avoiding an upset by No. 13 BC High, which rolled through the rest of the game and closed out by 23 at 66-43 as the buzzer sounded in their Division 1 South first round victory.

The Eagles move on to play at rival Catholic Memorial (14-7) on Saturday at 4 p.m.

“I think when you’re playing teams like BC, you’ve got to get them early, and we didn’t,” Marshfield head coach Bob Fisher said.

BC High (13-8) jumped out to a 7-0 lead by limiting the Rams (15-4) offensively, including holding their high scorer Barrett Murphy (23 points, nine from free throw line) to one side of the court. Playing the passing lanes aggressively led to steals and coast-to-coast layups by senior captain Bryan Hurley (20 points, eight assists, seven steals) and Jameilen Jones (10 points, 10 rebounds, six steals four blocks).

“We knew that if we could stop [Murphy] that was huge,” Hurley said of Murphy, who only scored five points and an assist in the first quarter. “Not only does he score, but he distributes the ball really well. So, we figured with our zone if we’d force him right because he likes to go left and shoot off of that. Once he slows down, and we stop their best player, that affects the rest of the team’s confidence.”

“We really feed off of our defense,” BC High head coach Bill Loughnane said. Jones, a 6-foot-2 sophomore, made a huge impact on defense and the boards, making two blocks, a steal and four rebounds in the first quarter alone. “He’s active, he’s athletic, very smart, has a very high IQ basketball wise and when he’s moving like that, he makes everyone’s job a little bit easier.”

Only down by four after the first quarter, the Rams looked to have a chance, spreading out the court and getting some shots up in the second half of the quarter, but the BC defense kept them to seven points in the second; three free throws by Murphy and two field goals by Andrew MacKinlay (five points, three rebounds).

“Murphy is our team, but we need other kids to step up,” added Fisher of Murphy, who also had 14 rebounds. No other Marshfield player tallied any statistic in double figures for the game. “They had a difficult time stepping up as a group.”

The Eagles, on the other hand, got into formation and extended their offensive set with five players sharing their 15 points in the second, manifesting nothing spectacular on the stats sheets for an individual, but doubling up on a team in the playoffs spoke volumes for the team’s cooperative effort. Leading the quarter in scoring were sophomore Malique McLaren (10 points) and junior Justin Roberts (10 points) with four points each. Junior forward Oderah Obukwelu (seven points, nine rebounds) got an offensive rebound, scored and completed a three point play for his scoring addition in the quarter, while Jones and Hurley each scored a bucket.

Hurley could have easily scored ten points in the quarter, but he has a larger picture in mind than padding his stats. He cares about his guys.

“I like to get my teammates involved early, making sure their confidence is up,” Hurley said. “Especially being the only senior, we need confidence with some of the younger guys. It’s huge. Once they get it, they can go through the roof and do anything.”

And so went the remainder of the game, as the Eagles led by 12 at the half, 19 at the end of the third and 23 when the fat lady belted her tune.

Even though two-thirds of the Eagles’ roster is above 6-foot and look down at his 5-foot-10 from when he’s commanding the offense, Hurley brings something to the table that can’t be measured with a yard stick, tape measure or even the scoreboard.

“He’s just one of those kids who leads by example,” added Loughnane. “He plays hard all the time, he’s always positive with the kids, he’s always encouraging them and it’s going to help them all later on basketball wise.”

No. 1 SJP grinds through conference opener

January, 5, 2011
1/05/11
1:41
AM ET



DANVERS, Mass. -- Can't all be pretty wins now, can they?

The No. 1 St. John's Prep Eagles won in a variety of ways in 2010 -- big, small, running, pressing -- but to kick off the 2011 portion of the season they had to dig their shoulders to the wheel. Pat Connaughton (22 points, 12 rebounds) gave Prep some breathing room with three 3-pointers in the third quarter, and his teammates eventually shut the door in the fourth en route to a 63-45 win over No. 18 Boston College High, winning the Catholic Conference opener for both teams, but this was far from a finesse game.

No, with all of the physical play under the rim, perpetuated by BC's frontcourt of Justin Roberts and Dan Curtis, this was a physical battle where both teams struggled early on from the perimeter and slugged it out for rebounds underneath the backboard.

"It was a good win for us," Prep head coach Sean Connolly said. "We grinded it out defensively. Offensively, we weren't very good, but you know you've got to credit BC High for that. I'm proud of the way we defended."

BC High (4-3) trapped well on the sidelines, confused Prep with a variety of three-quarter presses, and did an admirable job disguising and stacking their zone looks in the half-court. Prep players were pondering just how to classify it, even after all was said and done.

"It was weird, they kept switching it up," said senior point guard Connor Macomber, playing in his first action since tearing his right MCL on the third day of practice late last November. "They did a good job trapping in the corners. It was a weird defense."

Connaughton thought it was "kind of an awkward 2-3 zone, but I don't know if you even call it 2-3 zone, 1-3-1."

"I don't what it is, some type of weird defense that we tried to simulate in practice," he continued. "But it was kinda tough because they do it, and we don't, so we don't know exactly how to play it. So when they were playing it, we got through it the first half, and then in the second half, we settled down, and concentrated on getting the zone to move more."

Prep began to show success with that strategy midway through the second quarter, when Connaughton took the ball along the right wing, drawing a help defender over, and Steve Haladyna slid into the weakside post. The junior forward took a perfectly-placed pass from Connaughton, drew contact, and converted the ensuing three-point play to make it 18-13 with 5:40 left in the first half.

From there, the Prep crept to a 27-18 halftime lead before Connaughton took over in the third with some well-executed catch-and-shoot plays. His final three of the quarter, from the left wing courtesy a backdoor cut and dish from Owen Marchetti, made it 44-29. But even when he missed, his teammates bailed him out; junior Michael Carbone tipped back Connaughton's errant three at the buzzer to take a 17-point lead into the fourth quarter.

And while BC couldn't make a game of it again -- out of a Connolly timeout at the six-minute mark of the fourth, Prep responded with a 14-2 run -- a message clearly has been sent that this will not be a one-horse Catholic Conference race.

"They got us at their pace, slowing it down, running their sets, being physical," Connolly said. "They did a good job at that."

Bowdoin-bound Bryan Hurley led BC High with 15 points, while Roberts led on the glass with nine boards.

"Bryan plays a good game for us, he tries to get everybody involved," BC High head coach Bill Loughnane said of Hurley. "He probably wishes he made a couple of those shots, but you know, that happens in the game of basketball."

EASING BACK INTO IT

With a big black brace over his right knee, Macomber wasted no time making his impact felt in his first game action of the 2010-11 season, crashing to the floor but nailing an off-balance three-pointer to tie it up at 4-4 in the first minutes of the defensive slugfest.

Macomber has made a quick recovery from the MCL injury he suffered in the preseason, thanks to an intense twice-a-day rehabilitation program -- "I was doing alot of stuff," he laughed. Three first-half fouls kept him on the bench, but he admitted that getting up to speed on conditioning, and getting back on the same page with Connaughton -- with whom he shared a great chemistry in their surprise run to the Division 1 North finals last year -- may take a hot minute.

"I felt good," Macomber said. "I'm just trying to get back into the flow of things, this is obviously different from practice. But this felt good, playing in front of big crowds, we always get nice crowds. It's alot of fun."

Struggling to find the next words, he finally sighed with a big smile and a chuckle, "I'm just pumped to be back."

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