Boston High School: Kevin Brito

Recap: No. 2 Lowell 57, New Bedford 51

January, 6, 2013
NEW BEDFORD, Mass. –- The opening minutes of the first installment of this home-and-home series two weeks ago played out similar to the way things did today. In that Dec. 21 meeting, Lowell center Drew Healy picked up two quick first-quarter fouls, then the Red Raiders exploded in the second quarter en route to a 93-39 blowout of New Bedford that one had to see to honestly believe.

Less than three minutes into this afternoon’s tussle at Ed Rodrigues Court, and the 6-foot-7 big man found himself in foul trouble again.

But if Lowell’s ensuing offense was a symphony in that first meeting, then today’s version was a dirge.

The No. 2 Red Raiders etched out a sloppy 57-51 win over the host Whalers thanks to some clutch free throws in the final minute, but nobody from Lowell left the Whaling City today happy with the way things played out.

Following the game, Lowell head coach Scott Boyle had some strong words for the team, and echoed similar sentiments to reporters.

“I’ll give [New Bedford coach Tom Tarpey] credit, his guys came out ready to play,” Boyle said. “It’s just our maturity of a team, we’re not gifted [enough] to come out and...Our guys might be reading the local newspapers, local media, thinking we’re good. We’re not good unless we really get after it.

“We’ve got a shot to be good, but if we come out with efforts like that? I mean, they outplayed us for stretches, and we won the last minute or two, but that’s not the way we want to do it. I give them credit, but I’m just disappointed with the focus we had.”

While limited by foul trouble, Healy (nine points, nine rebounds) came up clutch in the fourth quarter, going a perfect 4-for-4 from the field in the stanza and giving the Raiders (8-0) the final go-ahead points. He first cleaned up on an errant three from Jonathan Perez (18 points) for a 48-47 lead; then after Kevin Nunes sunk two free throws, Healy took a feed from Zaryn Green (11 points) in transition and finished with a powerful two-handed overhand slam, and 50-49 lead.

At the other end, Healy cleared out his defender to scoop up an errant Quincy Pope three-point attempt, and the Whalers (5-2) sent Perez to the line for free throws.

Perez, Kevin Brito and Kareem Davis combined for five free throws in the final 28 seconds to seal it.

At the other end of the court, Tarpey was pleased with the effort of his squad. Devoid of size outside 6-foot-3 center Josh Pontes, the Whalers make no qualms about their affinity for the press; in the first meeting, the Raiders easily slipped through the press for fast break after fast break. And above all else, the Raiders seemingly did what they pleased in the first meeting, as evidenced by the final score, but today’s contest was made gritty by the Whalers’ relentlessness in man-to-man sets.

“We got more and more confidence in the second half, and then we couldn’t get over the hump for whatever reason,” Tarpey said. “Defensive pressure kind of hurt us at the end, but they [Lowell] are a good team for a reason. I give my kids credit. After what happened last time, I just think it’s going to do wonders for our team.”

That opportunity to seize momentum was brought on late in the third quarter by sophomore Tyree Weston (16 points). With senior captain and point guard Rylin Collazo (12 points) on the bench with four fouls, the 5-foot-10 Weston took over ballhandling duties, and finished with three assists for the quarters. That included the crucial dish with 16 seconds left that gave them a 36-35 lead, finding Pope in right corner for an open trey that made it 36-35 Whalers.

“He’s tough,” Tarpey said of Weston. “He had to play the one because of foul trouble, and he’s just gonna be tough. He plays a lot older than a sophomore in big situations like that. We don’t like moral victories here, but you know what? Hopefully we can build on this and get better.”

Shoring up the D: When Healy encountered foul trouble in the first game of this series, the Raiders pushed up the tempo, inserted a smaller but quicker lineup, and torched the Whalers with slick ball movement around the perimeter in a five-out offensive look.

The difference this time around? The Whalers were much more aggressive in defending Brito (who had five 3-pointers in the first meeting), face-guarding him and generally making him uncomfortable. They also clamped down on Healy, double-teaming him and trying to limit his touches around the basket.

It took some bonus ball to get it done (Collazo, Weston and Pontes all picked three fouls each in the first half), but the Whalers did a good job of cutting off passing lanes as well.

“We didn’t want to let them get in the middle,” Tarpey said. “Mostly Davis, because we know when he’s in the middle he’s kicking out and these guys are hitting open three’s, so we didn’t want to let him get in the middle. We just wanted to play solid defense.

“Down there, we were gambling a lot, fouling a lot, we just said ‘Play solid defense’. And if they hit a three with a hand in their face, God bless them.”

Recap: No. 2 Lowell 50, No. 11 Andover 40

January, 4, 2013
LOWELL, Mass. -- If the Merrimack Valley Conference basketball season is anything like it was during football season, it will be a fight to the finish.

That was exemplified Friday night, when No. 2 Lowell beat No. 11 Andover 50-40 in a defensive slugfest.

Lowell came out sluggish in the first quarter, failing to score a basket for the first 5:30 of the game. Part of that was due to the early play, or lack thereof, of its center Drew Healy (12 points, seven rebounds). He was having difficulty holding on to the basketball and finishing.

“I didn’t come out ready, my head wasn’t in the game,” he said. “I saw the energy and I saw the crowd, and I knew how the game was going to be and I had to react and come out and play like I usually do.”

Lowell (7-0) coach Scott Boyle removed Healy from the game in the middle of the quarter, hoping to light a spark under him. He was put back into the game, and the team’s play changed. Where he was getting boxed out and outmuscled by Andover’s Sam Dowden (10 points, four rebounds) early on, it was Healy who started taking advantage of his positioning and asserting himself underneath.

In the second quarter, Lowell switched away from man-to-man concepts and went to a more traditional zone defense. It was great timing on their part as Andover’s shooters went cold. Lowell took care of the long rebounds and went out in transition and took a lead it would never relinquish.

Lowell took a 20-15 lead into halftime, but Andover (5-2) did not go quietly. Recognizing its need for points, coach Dave Fazio put in Jack Konevich, a left-handed long-range shooter to make some noise behind the three-point line. He hit two quality shots, and around the same time, Andover’s Chris Dunn started to get hot from three. Suddenly, Andover was only down 35-32 heading into the fourth.

The Lowell defense was just too much, however. With costly turnovers turned into transition baskets, including a last-minute dagger three-pointer by Kevin Brito (eight points), Lowell was able to secure the victory.

“It was kind of par for the course, it’s never going to be easy either way in our league,” said Boyle. “We finished the game tonight in the fourth quarter which is important to me, when it was still a back-and-forth game. I just thought they’re a real good team, they’re sound, and I thought it was a real good test for us. We played well on our home court, and you have to win on your home court.”

Flipping the switch: In the second quarter, Lowell switched to a zone defense and Andover could not take advantage. It was as though Lowell was daring the Golden Warriors to shoot from the outside, and it sure did. Andover went 1-for-12 from the field in the quarter.

Healy, mentally and physically in the game at this point after struggling early, consistently outmuscled and out-rebounded his counterpart Dowden, which prevented the possibility of any Andover second chance points. The Red Raiders went on a 9-0 run at the end of the half and go into the break up 20-15.

“They’re a well-coached team and they run great offensive sets,” said Boyle. “We wanted to try and get them out of rhythm. Tonight, it kind of worked for us, and that’s why you take a shot. They’re a great zone team as well, they can shoot the ball, and I thought because we have some length, we had the ability to play a little zone.”

Healy gave Dowden fits for most of the night. Dowden, at 6-foot-4 and 195 pounds, is used to being able to use his body effectively underneath the basket to create space and easy baskets. However, against the 6-foot-7 Healy and the tightly-packed Lowell zone, he struggled to find room to maneuver inside, and when he did, often had his shot contested or found himself in a tie-up situation with a swarming Lowell defender.

“Usually we’re just straight man D,” said Healy. “Coach wanted to mix it up tonight because of the matchup differences, and we’ve been working on it in practice the last couple weeks. They missed shots so we just had to box out and play tough.”

Andover’s Dunn (14 points) still hit four 3-pointers in the game, but it was never enough to close the gap on the scoreboard.

Round Two: Sunday, Lowell will have a rematch with New Bedford, a mere 16 days after the Red Raiders 54-point drubbing on its home court. Healy is not expecting it to be nearly as easy this time around.

“We came out and our shooters were on, they were hitting, Kevin (Brito) hit five three’s,” he said. “We just kept pushing it and pushing it, and then we won. This time we expect a bigger challenge, but we’re going to go into the game just like we did every other game. We’re going to go in there and fight, and the best man comes out winning.”

Recap: No. 8 Lowell 93, No. 14 New Bedford 39

December, 22, 2012

LOWELL, Mass. -– In a highly-anticipated matchup between two of the state’s best sophomores, Lowell’s Kareem Davis and New Bedford’s Tyree Weston, the host Red Raiders won in grand fashion, blowing out visiting New Bedford by the surreal margin of 93-39.

The Whalers (3-1) were able to keep the game within relative striking distance early on while Lowell 6-foot-8 center Drew Healy was on the bench with foul trouble, but Lowell started to develop some momentum and pull away in the second quarter thanks to three first-half treys from senior guard Kevin Brito, a skying dunk by DeWayne Thomas, and exceptional point guard play by Davis. Following the first half, Lowell (3-0) led 49-31.

As Healy got more involved with the offense in the third quarter, the Red Raiders started to blow New Bedford out of the gym in the second half, with Lowell’s subs playing the large majority of the fourth quarter. Thomas took on an important scoring role in the second half for Lowell, scoring 11 of his 13 points in the second half; all of his points came by way of lay-ups, runners, or dunks.

Life without Healy: Healy got in foul trouble early on in the first half, so as a result Lowell had to play the majority of the half without their senior big man on the floor. Lowell changed up their offensive game a little bit with Healy, and went with a dribble-drive five out offense.

Brito finished with five treys in all -- three of which were assisted by Davis -- but Lowell’s unselfish willingness to make the extra pass and get teammates open looks was the most striking part of their offensive performance. Five Red Raiders finished the game in double figures.

Head coach Scott Boyle couldn’t help but praise his team’s play with the ball.

“That’s what you’re hoping for," he said. "And it isn’t always like that...But when it happens it’s nice to see, and that’s what we’re trying to coach. That’s what the kids did tonight, they executed and it was really nice to see,” he said.

Davis’ development: When considering the depth of the MIAA’s sophomore class, the fact that Davis may be the best point guard in the group is a true testament to his on-court maturity. The 5-foot-9 Davis was the catalyst of the Red Raiders’ offense in the first half, dropping 6 assists over that span and scoring 9 points. Finishing with 12 points and 8 dimes in all, Boyle said it was the type of breakout performance that he had been looking for in his point guard:

“I really thought tonight was the first time where [Kareem] came out and played the way he’s capable of playing,” he said, “The first couple games he struggled a little but, but [tonight] I thought he really made a commitment on defense. He did a good job distributing and shooting the ball when he was open. I like the way he played.”

Lockdown defense: Lowell gave up just eight points in the second half, as New Bedford was only able to score three field goals in the final 16 minutes of the game. The long, athletic Raiders put constant pressure on New Bedford’s guards, setting up in a 2-1-2 stretch zone that trapped the Whalers on the free throw line extended.

“That three or four-minute span in the second half really got us going," Boyle said. "Tonight, a lot of things went right for us, and we work hard, so you deserve it every once in awhile."

Boyle said he hopes that his team can continue their strong defense and unselfish play that they displayed tonight, and they’ll certainly need it playing in the buzzsaw that is the Merrimack Valley Conference; Andover narrowly took down North Andover last night, Central Catholic is position to take over the No. 1 spot in week’s top 25, and Lawrence returns a talented, experienced group.

“When our kids get in the game they want to play as hard as they can, and that creates problems for some teams,” Boyle said, “tonight I thought they gelled and played well together and made that extra pass.”