Boston High School: Kevin Claflin

Recap: No. 3 CM 106, No. 15 BC High 100 (OT)

February, 5, 2014
Feb 5

BOSTON -- With Guilien Smith’s hand hot as ever, there was never any doubt that Catholic Memorial would put the ball in his hands for the final play of regulation, needing two points to tie their Catholic Conference rival BC High.

“We wrote up the play so it would be Guilien,” said CM coach Denis Tobin. “We told him in the timeout, ‘We want you to go out there and create something. Create a scoring chance for yourself, and if it’s not there, Aamahne (Santos) will be right be you.’ He found a way to get to the hoop himself.”

With seven seconds left, Smith took the inbounds pass out of a timeout just in front of halfcourt. A clear-out play gave the lightning-quick guard a chance to get to the basket, and he took off for the hoop.

As he neared the basket, Knights’ senior Gerard Adams sealed off the defender with a perfectly timed screen, and Smith laid the ball in off the hoop to send the game to overtime.

“It didn’t go quite like we drew it up, but G opened things up with the screen and gave me an easy chance,” said Smith.

He added four of his game-high 33 points in OT to help the Knights (16-1) slip past BC, 106-100, inside McNeice Pavilion on Tuesday night.

Smith’s scoring was only a fraction of his impact for CM. He grabbed 11 rebounds in the win, with six coming on the offensive end. He also dished out four assists and was an anchor on defense, despite playing nearly the whole fourth quarter and all of OT with four fouls.

“I’m really proud of the way he handled that,” said Tobin. “He sometimes has a habit of getting hit with a bad foul, and the fourth may have been that. So I stressed to him on the bench that he couldn’t take one of those, and he was great the rest of the way.”

Added Smith: “It was definitely nerve-wracking playing with four fouls. I knew I couldn’t reach in and swat at the ball, but the other four guys on the floor with me did a great job picking me up the rest of the way.”

Points A Plenty: With both teams reaching triple digits, there was plenty of opportunity to rack up points. Nine different guys in all reached double figures on the night.

Santos, who also had seven rebounds and six assists, finished second on the Knights with 22 points. Kevin Claflin had 17 and Brandon Twitty chipped in 16 to pace the run-and-gun CM offense. Smith, Claflin and Twitty all hit four 3-pointers in the win.

On the other side, Tom Galanek led the scoring charge for BC, pouring in 25 points -- including 17 after the half.

Steve Young finished right behind Galanek, scoring a career-high 24 points off the bench. Phil Leotsakos, who proved to be a high-energy guy for the Eagles all night, added 22 points. He also had 17 rebounds, six assists and five blocks for BC.

“Phil is a really good player and he had a big night tonight,” said BC coach Bill Loughnane. “Even that shot he took near the end (a possible game tying three late in OT), that was halfway down before it rimmed out. He’s our big guy, but we’re confident with him taking that shot.

The Eagles also got 14 points from Isaiah Bowman and 10 Jack Loughnane as they fell to 9-5.

Recap: No. 5 Xaverian 43, CM 7

October, 5, 2013

WESTWOOD, Mass. – It’s not how you start; it’s how you finish.

And one week after a rough finish in a loss at Barnstable, No. 5 Xaverian learned its lesson heading into Saturday’s Catholic Conference matchup with Catholic Memorial.

The Hawks hadn’t played their finest half against the Knights and held just a slim three-point lead (10-7) at the intermission. But Xaverian showed up for the second half, outscoring the Knights 33-0 en route to a 43-7 win.

Xaverian (3-1, 1-0) pounded the ball in the second half behind a trio of running backs in Shayne Kaminski, Kenny Kern and Noah Sorrento. Meanwhile, the Hawks defense produced points as well, as junior defensive back Damion Wood returned two interceptions for touchdowns, turning a once competitive struggle into a manhandling.

“We weren’t really making the plays we needed to, we hurt ourselves a little bit there,” Xaverian head coach Charlie Stevenson said of his team in the first half. “We took some bad penalties.”

In fact, the Hawks were so generous they accounted for three of CM’s five first downs in the first half, with one leading up to the Knights’ lone touchdown of the day – a 15-yard touchdown pass from Kevin Claflin to Kevin Bletzer roughly a minute before the break.

Xaverian’s defense would be much more stingy in the second half.

After the Hawks extended their lead to 23-7 following a 1-yard touchdown run by Kaminski (11 carries, 79 yards), Wood collected his first pick-six with a 90-yard return with 22 seconds remaining the third quarter.

On the ensuing Knights possession, Ernest Simon collected the second of three Hawks interceptions during the half. That set up a six-play touchdown drive, culminating in a 4-yard touchdown by Sorrento (15 carries, 66 yards).

CM (1-3, 0-1) then committed its third straight turnover with Wood taking a 67-yard interception to the house, providing Xaverian with its final margin of victory.

“I just saw an opportunity and I took it,” Wood said of his pair of scores.

Meanwhile, the Knights were left asking, what went so very wrong?

“Xaverian’s a good football team, they can score without us helping them,” CM head coach Alex Campea said. “I think they just decided that they were going to wear us down and were kind of pounding us [in the second half].”

Next man up: Xaverian’s ball-hawking secondary was a major factor Saturday, forcing three turnovers. But what’s most surprising is how the group came together so quickly, especially considering the loss of senior captain D.J. Sperzel for the foreseeable future.

“ D.J. being out, that’s a big loss for us,” Wood said postgame. “But we practiced well, got all aspects together … everything’s fine with our defense even though we’re missing [Sperzel].”

Sperzel, who was lost to injury during the Hawks’ loss to Barnstable last week, had quarterbacked the secondary along with fellow captain and corner A.J. King (36-yard TD reception in the third quarter). But the group can still be a strength for the Hawks, with Wood making such a bold statement. Along with sophomore Peter Thorbahn, who slotted into Sperzel’s spot for most of Saturday’s contest, and freshman standout Mekhi Henderson, the newly formulated group has come together quickly.

“I think they’re good young players, but they’re young,” Stevenson said. “So you never know what you’re going to get.”

Give it up for the Big Man: The Hawks held their first-half lead thanks to senior offensive lineman Jeff Perez.

Xaverian opened scoring at 3:42 of the first quarter, when the 6-foot-1, 220-pound guard fell on a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown, pulling his best impression of Logan Mankins in the 2006 AFC Championship Game. After Kern ran up the middle for 24 yards on a fullback draw, he was stripped from behind. The loose ball bounded into the end zone, and Perez, who was trailing the play, alertly fell on the ball for the score.

Recap: No. 12 CM 66, No. 19 Franklin 56

December, 12, 2012

FRANKLIN, Mass. –- Almost right away, one can tell this is a vastly different Catholic Memorial squad from the one that claimed the Catholic Conference outright a season ago.

Gone are two 1,000-point scorers, as well as the starting backcourt (one to prep school, one to an ACL tear during football). And with it has seemingly gone the offensive wizardry –- at least for now.

But on this opening night of the 2012-13 season, in front of a familiar foe’s hostile crowd, the Knights proved they can at least hold their own in the defensive end. Behind an oppressive 2-2-1 full court press and some very physical play on the boards, the Knights built a double-digit lead early over rival Franklin and made it stick, prevailing 66-56 in both teams’ season-opener.

“We just played hard,” said CM sophomore Giulien Smith, who led all scorers with 18 points. “We just have to cut down on the turnovers and we should be good for the season.”

It was a tightly-contested game early, but late in the first quarter the Knights capitalized on several turnovers in the press to close out with a 7-0 run and take a 20-14 lead. In the second quarter, Franklin was held to just 2-for-12 from the field, as the Knights went into the break with a 36-25 advantage.

Trailign 48-40 headed into the final stanza, Franklin was on the cusp of building some momentum when CM senior forward and captain John McDonough, the Knights’ pugilist under the glass, went to the bench with a fourth foul just one minute into the quarter. Craig Anderson then sunk both of his free throws to make it 50-44.

That was as close as the Panthers cut it, however. Coming down the other end, Smith pulled up for a 15-footer near the charity stripe, then the Knights immediately went to their familiar press to force another turnover.

Two minutes later, Rich Lopez (14 points, six rebounds) came up with a layup, then laid out for a loose ball going the other way after 6-foot-6 sophomore David Watkins (six rebounds) stretched out for a deflection in the press. From his knees, Lopez hurled the ball downcourt to D.J. McClure, who was fouled and hit the front end of two shots for a 57-48 lead with 3:30 to go.

The next time down, McDonough chucked a long lob over the top of Franklin’s press to McClure for another easy basket, followed by a great dish from Pat Hurley to Lopez in transition to give the Knights an 11-point lead with less than two minutes to go.

“Typical first game, lot of sloppiness out of both teams,” CM head coach Dennis Tobin said. “I was very happy with the effort that we gave. We're a physically tough team this year. We get a lot of the 50-50 loose balls, we get a lot of the rebounds we shouldn't be getting.

“They made a nice run down the stretch at us and cut it to like six or five. But we kept our poise, moved the ball and were able to get a couple layups out of that.”

Stalking Sammy: Senior point guard Sam Bohmiller is an early leading candidate for Hockomock League MVP, and the identity of the Panthers’ program with his even all-around game, but the Knights made life difficult for him tonight. The 5-foot-10 Bohmiller is known for his accuracy from the perimeter, and ended up with 13 points, but that came on a forgettable 5-for-15 effort from the field.

Simply put, CM made Bohmiller work for his points.

“Basically we wanted to use three or four bodies to tire him (Bohmiller) down,” Tobin said. “He's a terrific player and we wanted to make it hard for him to get the ball once he gave it up in the half-court. Then, look to help, try to make the other guys beat us and not let Bohmiller beat us.”

In the post-game, Franklin coach Dean O’Connor found himself absorbing all the blame, telling reporters “That's on me, I didn’t have them prepared for the intensity that they had.” When it came to Bohmiller, O’Connor cited his team’s struggles screening, and attributed Hurley to much of the troubles.

“They were doing a good job off the ball and Hurley did a good job,” O’Connor said. “Not too many guys can contain him off the dribble, but he did a good job of keeping him in front and the other guys did a good job of denying it.

“We turned into a lot of dribble and not screening and cutting, which is what we want to do. We didn’t make good use of the dribble. Then they got all the hustle plays -- rebounds, loose balls, things like that.”

Bottled Up: In trying to break the Knights’ press, the Panthers countered with diagonal passes through the zone, but some terrific awareness and activity in the backcourt by the Knights made that strategy difficult all night.

The Knights’ press tonight rotated Hurley, Dennis Tobin Jr., and Kevin Claflin way up top, pressing the inbounders; behind them at midcourt were a rotation of Lopez, Smith and Watkins near midcourt on either side of the circle; and way back near the free throw line was McDonough playing centerfield.

Making it all work seamlessly was Lopez, whom the elder Tobin called “probably our toughest player”.

“If you see a ball on the floor he's going to get it,” Tobin said. “He takes charges, does all the things that we ask of him, has a nice soft shot that he really didn't demonstrate tonight but I would say he's the heart and soul of the team.”