Boston High School: Kevin LaFrancis

ESPNBoston's MIAA All-State Boys Basketball Team

March, 22, 2012

All-StateGuard – Aaron Calixte, Jr., Stoughton
An exceptional athlete gifted with a tenacious motor, and one of the state's most dynamic scorers, the 5-foot-11 Calixte was the driving force behind the Black Knight's run to the Division 2 Eastern Mass. final, and asserted himself as the state's premier point guard. For his junior season, he averaged 19 points and six assists, and was named a Hockomock League All-Star. Calixte also stands out on the gridiron for the Black Knights' football squad.

All-StateGuard – Tyrese Hoxter, Jr., Charlestown
After playing in the shadows of former All-Stater Akosa Maduegbunam a year ago, the 6-foot-3 Hoxter thoroughly burst onto the scene and had a monster campaign for the Townies, leading them to the TD Garden floor for the first time since 2005 before bowing out to Brockton in the Division 1 Eastern Mass. Final. This season he averaged 19 points, eight rebounds, three assists and two steals.

All-StateGuard – Tyrell Springer, Sr., Springfield Central
After falling short of a state title two seasons ago with New Leadership, the 6-foot-2 Springer led Central to the DCU Center floor this season where the Golden Eagles captured their first Division 1 state title since 1991. The centerpiece of one of the state's most athletic lineups, Springer averaged 15.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, seven assists and 7.3 steals. He is undecided on college plans.

All-StateForward – Jake Layman, Sr., King Philip
The 6-foot-8 Layman was one of the most dominant players in Massachusetts this season, with the ability to score both inside and out, as the Warriors set a school single-season record for wins (18) before suffering a surprise upset in the Division 2 South quarterfinals. In 21 games, he averaged 26.5 points, 16 rebounds, 5.8 blocks, 3.2 assists and three steals. He closes his career with with 1,752 points, 1,098 rebounds and 391 blocks, giving him career averages of 20.6 points, 12.9 rebounds, 4.6 blocks, 2.8 steals and 2.6 assists. This is his second appearance on the Super Team; he also captured the Hockomock League's MVP for the second straight season. Layman, who was named ESPN Boston's "Mr. Basketball" earlier this week, is ranked the nation's No. 62 overall senior by ESPN, and will continue his career next season at the University of Maryland.

All-StateCenter – Sayvonn Houston, Sr., Brockton
A nightly double-double machine, Houston established himself as one of the state's most dominant true centers, making life difficult down low as the Boxers went 23-3 and made their first Division 1 state final appearance since 1985. He saved his biggest performances for the biggest stages, such as his 20-20 night in the Division 1 South semifinals, or his 22-point, 13-rebound effort in Brockton's overtime win over Charlestown in the Division 1 Eastern Mass. Final at TD Garden. Houston is undecided on college plans.


All-StateJalen Adams, Soph. G, Melrose
Quickly rising as one of the Bay State's most complete scoring guards, the 6-foot-1 Adams took home Middlesex League MVP honors after averaging 21 points per game. He led the Red Raiders to an 18-2 regular season record, before they fell to state runner-up Brighton in the Division 2 North semifinals. Adams has already declared that he will be transferring to Wilbraham & Monson Academy next season, where he will reclassify to the Class of 2015.

All-StateJaylen Blakely, Jr. G, Brockton
Like Houston, the 5-foot-11 Blakely saved some of his best performances for the crunch time in the playoffs, such as his eight-assist performance in the Boxers' win over Catholic Memorial. Blakely distributed evenly to Brockton's talented shooters and post players, as they went 23-3 and reached their first state final appearance since 1985.

All-StateMatt Droney, Sr. F, Catholic Memorial
A terrific shooter, the 6-foot-4 Droney was named the Catholic Conference's MVP after a season of averaging 20.7 points, six assists and five rebounds per game. He also became the eighth player in school history to surpass 1,000 points earlier this season. The Canton resident will be doing a post-graduate season next year at the Taft School in Connecticut.

All-StateDarien Fernandez, Jr. G, Wareham
The 5-foot-7 waterbug demonstrated a tenacious motor in leading the Vikings to their second Division 3 Eastern Mass. Final appearance in three seasons. Wareham was the state's last unbeaten before losing to state champion Danvers. For the season, Fernandez averaged 24 points, 10 assists, eight rebounds and five steals, and recorded three triple-doubles. He needs just 45 points next season to reach 1,000 for his career.

All-StateRony Fernandez, Sr. G, Charlestown
Fernandez was one of the most outstanding point guards of the MIAA tournament, leading the Townies to a thrilling win over Lexington in the Division 1 North final before bowing out to state runner-up Brockton in the Eastern Mass. Finals. For the season he averaged 16 points and seven assists. He is undecided on college plans, but is currently fielding interest from Division 1 programs such as Maine, Northeastern and Hartford.

All-StateJoey Glynn, Sr. F, Cardinal Spellman
The 6-foot-5 Abington resident did it all this season for the Cardinals, averaging a double-double (18.5 points, 12 rebounds, three steals, 2.2 blocks) as they lost to Eastern Mass. runner-up Wareham in the Division 3 South semifinals. For his career, Glynn scored 1,425 points. He will continue his career next season at Bentley University.

All-StateSteve Haladyna, Sr. G/F, St. John’s Prep
One of two repeat All-Staters, the 6-foot-3 Haladyna was unable to lead the Eagles deep in their Division 1 state title defense, but he still leaves the Danvers campus as one of its most decorated basketball stars. He averaged 22.4 points and 9.5 rebounds per game, both team highs, and for his career he finishes with 1,392 points -- second all-time on Prep's scoring list. The South Hamilton resident will continue his career next season at Tufts University.

All-StateMalik James, Soph. G, Brighton
The 6-foot-1 James elevated his game when the Bengals needed it most, as they made their first state final appearance in school history, falling to Mahar in the Division 2 title game. For the season, James averaged 18.1 points, 8.2 assists and 4.2 rebounds as the Bengals won their first-ever Eastern Mass. title.

All-StateJameilen Jones, Jr. G, BC High
BC High's season came to an unexpected halt as the Eagles loss in the first round of the Division 1 South tournament, but the 6-foot-2 Jones has established himself as one of Eastern Mass.'s premier two-way players. For the season, he averaged 17 points and eight rebounds as the Eagles went 15-6.

All-StateZach Karalis, Sr. G, North Andover
The 6-foot-1 Karalis was one of the driving forces for the Scarlet Knights, who went 21-2 and reached the playoffs an unprecedented 47th straight time. For the season he averaged 15.9 points and shot 46 percent from the field, to go along with 6.5 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.8 steals. Karalis will continue his career next season at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

All-StateKevin LaFrancis, Sr. C, Acton-Boxborough
After a stellar season in leading the 21-2 Colonials to a Division 1 North semifinal appearance, the 6-foot-6 LaFrancis was named the Dual County League's MVP. He averaged 19.5 points and eight rebounds this season, and finishes his career at A-B with 1,012 career points. He is undecided on college plans.

All-StateAlex Lopez, Sr. G, Springfield Commerce
The 5-foot-10 Lopez led the Valley League in scoring for the second straight season, averaging 22.3 points as the Red Raiders went to the Division 1 Western Mass. Finals and took state champion Springfield Central to the wire. He led Western Mass. in field goals made (185) and total points (512). Lopez is currently undecided on college plans.

All-StateDamian Lugay, Sr. G, Weymouth
The 6-foot-2 Lugay led the Wildcats to a second straight 17-win season, before they were bounced in the first round of the Division 1 South tournament. For the season he averaged 18.1 points and just under four assists, and leaves Weymouth as a two-time First Team All-Bay State Conference. Lugay is undecided on college plans.

All-StateGeorge Merry, Sr. C, Danvers
At 6-foot-7, Merry was a force at both ends of the floor for the Falcons, known for his ability to redirect shots as much as his scoring touch. He averaged 16.1 points, eight rebounds and 6.6 blocks as Danvers captured its first Division 3 state championship in school history. Merry is currently undecided on college plans, but showing interest from several schools in Divisions 2 and 3.

All-StateMarcus Middleton, Jr. G, Stoughton
Tasked nightly with locking down the opposition's top scorer, Middleton established himself as one of the state's premier on-ball defenders. Middleton averaged 16 points per game for the Black Knights, who won the Division 2 South title before bowing out to state runner-up Brighton in the Eastern Mass. championship at TD Garden. Middleton also stars on Stoughton's football squad.

All-StateMatt Mobley, Sr. G/F, St. Peter-Marian
One of state's most pleasant late-blooming surprises, the 6-foot-3 Mobley was one of the leading scorers in Central Mass. as the Guardians made it all the way to the Division 1 Central Final. For the season, he averaged 23.2 points in leading SPM to its most successful season under head coach Marcus Watson. Mobley finished his career at SPM with 1,175 points, and will do a post-graduate season next year at Worcester Academy.

All-StateTyler Nelson, Soph. G, Central Catholic
The 5-foot-11 Nelson established himself as one of the state's premier shooters, as the Raiders made it to the Division 1 North semifinals before bowing out to champion Charlestown. He averaged 15.5 points and four assists this season, shot 42 percent from three-point range, and 91 percent from the free throw line.

All-StateColin Richey, Jr. G, Whitinsville Christian
After winning a Division 3 state title a year ago, the 6-foot Richey nearly led them back, as the Crusaders lost in the final seconds to state runner-up St. Joseph Central in the state semifinals. For the seaosn, Richey averaged 16.8 points, 6.7 assist and 6.3 rebounds for the Dual Valley League champions.

All-StateKamari Robinson, Jr. F, Springfield Central
The 6-foot-5 Robinson was a rock underneath for the Golden Eagles, who captured their first Division 1 state title since 1991 and third overall. He was a nightly double-double threat this season, averaging 13 points, 11 rebounds, four steals and three assists, as Central went undefeated in Massachusetts.

All-StateMichael Thorpe, Sr. G, Newton North
The Tigers went run-and-gun this season, and the 5-foot-11 Thorpe kept them thoroughly going. One year after reaching the Division 1 South finals, he nearly led them back, before losing to state runner-up Brockton in the semifinals. He was named the Bay State Conference's MVP, with averages of 15 points and four assists. Thorpe will continue his career next season at Emerson College.


The kind of on-ball pressure Middleton provided nightly to some of the state's premier scorers can take its toll physically, but he was routinely up to the task. As teammate Aaron Calixte saw a barrage of double-teams and box-and-one's, Middleton did his part at the other end, hedging off screens and staying one one's hip, chasing them all over the floor. As much praise as Calixte will get in this unprecedented season for the Knights, an equal amount must be thrown Middleton's way.

G – Marcus Middleton, Jr., Stoughton
G – Anthony Hodges, Sr., Holy Name
G – Darien Fernandez, Jr., Wareham
F – Jake Layman, Sr., King Philip
C – George Merry, Sr., Danvers


The Bengals lost their best player before the start of the tournament, and backpedaled into the playoffs with uninspiring losses to Acton-Boxborough and Madison Park. Yet in the end, they were one step away from the school's first-ever state title. Coleman is an unabashed disciple of the legendary Jack O'Brien, and staples of those historic Charlestown squads are sprinkled all over the program. Not only has Coleman done a remarkable job bringing the team to heights never before reached in his three seasons at the helm, but this is a program that will be dangerous for the next few years.

Paul Connolly, Newton North
Dean O'Connor, Franklin

Kevin Brogioli, Wareham
John Gallivan, Stoughton
Reggie Hobbs, Lexington
Malcolm Smith, East Boston
Chad Softic, Mahar
John Walsh, Danvers
Dennis Wilson, Madison Park

Div. 1 Boys: A-B 63, Lawrence 58

March, 4, 2012
ACTON, Mass. — At first glance, Acton-Boxborough may look like a lumbering, big team that will only play in the half court and lull you to sleep in the post with size at seemingly every position.

But once the Colonials get into the flow of a game and move the ball inside and out, you start to realize that the size also has a little hop to its step. The Colonials put that gitty-up on display last night in the Div. 1 North quarterfinals in a 63-58 win over lightning quick No. 7 Lawrence at Regan Gymnasium.

The Colonials had three players in double figures, as Kevin LaFrancis — who added 12 rebounds — and Jake Pilecki each scored 20 points. Joey Flannery contributed with 12 points, nine rebounds and four assists, as the No. 2 seed will now face Lexington in the semifinals.

“We are versatile,” said Flannery. “It was pretty much a contrast in style, so we had to pick our spots when we were running and everything. We had to try and take advantage inside against them and try to deal with their quick guards.”

Flannery himself is the ultimate measure of versatility for A-B. At 6-foot-4, Flannery is the de facto point guard and he had to deal with the quick hands of Yadoris Arias, Franklin Martinez and Leonny Burgos buzzing around trying to swipe the ball out of his mitts all night.

“When I was playing up top with the ball they were pressuring me hard,” said Flannery. “They took the ball from a couple times, but I just had to use my size to my advantage.”

There was a stretch in the third quarter when Flannery went out with foul trouble that really could have turned the tide in the Lancers (15-6) direction. Flannery went to the bench with his third personal at the 3:39 mark, and the Colonials had trouble breaking the extended pressure in the backcourt.

The Colonials played survival for that time period without much flow to the offense and held a 51-46 lead at the end of the quarter and averted a bit of disaster.

“That was a time, late in that third quarter, we give up a basket and suddenly the momentum could change,” said Colonials head coach Rick Kilpatrick. “I thought that was big.”

Pilecki Comes Up Big Again: Kilpatrick has talked over and over again about the spark that his senior captain brings to the team in the most dire of situations, and Pilecki came up big again.

With the shot clock dwindling down to two, Pilecki fired away a deep, straightaway 3-pointer and drained it to push the lead back up to 8 with a little over four minutes left to go in the game.

“I’m just going to pull it,” Pilecki said of his mindset. “It feels good. I practice shooting it deep and I’m always screwing around from deep before practice. I throw it up there and it goes in, so I guess it works.”

Lancers Cold From Outside: Lawrence relies heavily on its speed to create a nightmare matchup for anyone trying to guard it for 32 minutes. But the Lancers also use the deep ball to open up the lanes for Burgos, Martinez and Arias to play around and use their ballhandling skills to get to the rim.

The shots just weren’t falling like they were in the first round victory against St. John's Prep. The Lancers finished 1-of-17 from behind the 3-point line, eliminating a major weapon in Paul Neal’s arsenal.

“They took that away from us,” said Lawrence head coach Paul Neal. “They really took away what we were good at. We couldn’t get anything going.”

Kilpatrick switched to a zone defense in the first half and stuck with it most of the night after starting out in a man-to-man look.

“I didn’t think we were going to play a whole lot of 2-3 (zone),” said Kilpatrick. “I thought we were going to play more man. We threw it at them in the first quarter, late first quarter, and it seemed to work. We still played some man, but obviously we played a lot of 2-3 the rest of the way. I thought we did a great job in the zone of recognizing where the shooters (were).”

Recap: No. 7 A-B 59, No. 5 Brighton 45

February, 13, 2012

ACTON, Mass. -- Expressing the feeling of many coaches in the Division 1 North district, Acton-Boxborough head coach Rick Kilpatrick mused following the Colonials' game with Brighton tonight that his bracket is "extremely" wide open.

And in this season of unlikely contenders and wild upsets, Kilpatrick's squad had just made a case for why they should be considered contenders, not underdogs, in the North. Against a Brighton lineup superior in athleticism, speed and overall skill -- even with star forward Nick Simpson done for the season due to grades -- the Colonials wore them down with careful execution and clean movement around the halfcourt, giving way to another huge night for senior center Kevin LaFrancis (31 points, 15 rebounds) in a 59-45 win.

"We wanted to schedule this, because it's a type of team we don't see often in our league," LaFrancis said. "We definitely had to get back to basics, and really box out, because they are really athletic."

The Colonials (17-1) led 13-4 after one period, and extended their lead to 20-10 in the second quarter before the Bengals (16-2) stormed back with back-to-back-to-back three-pointers from Daivon Edwards (11 points), cutting the lead to one. A-B quickly regrouped, and down the stretch were able to pull away with timely execution and steady feeds to LaFrancis and Joey Flannery (15 points).

In the third quarter, for instance, the 6-foot-6 LaFrancis continued to take the ball inside, and took hard bump after hard bump to the tune of 12 free throw attempts for the stanza. He was 8-for-12 from the line in the third, and 11-for-16 overall from the stripe.

"On pace for 48 (free throw attempts)? No, I've never had a quarter like that," LaFrancis laughed of the third quarter. "It was tough, but you just have to stay with it. I was struggling with the free throws towards the end of the quarter, but I started to get my stroke back at the end, so it was good."

The Bengals pride themselves on dictating a frenetic tempo, but the Colonials took charge of the game's pace early and made it stick. On ball reversals, LaFrancis would often step out from underneath the hoop, catch and drive, taking advantage of some lapses in help defense.

At the other end, A-B settled into a 2-3 zone and held Brighton to just a 31 percent clip from the field, including 2-for-13 in the first quarter and 1-for-11 in the final frame.

All of it comes in the absence of Jake Pilecki. The star senior forward came down with a stomach bug, and did not dress.

"It's a positive for us, hopefully it's a confidence builder," Kilpatrick said. "Jake's really important to us, especially defensively. He's a good passer, he just does a lot of good things. We told the guys, when someone's missing, it's opportunities for other guys. I thought that other guys stepped it up and did a nice job tonight."

Breaking the press: One of the ways Brighton creates a hectic tempo is with its vaunted diamond-and-one press. Dressing just eight players tonight, head coach Hugh Coleman rolled out some different permutations of the press, but the Colonials were able to break it patiently, with clean diagonal passes from sideline to sideline.

"All we talked about yesterday, and before the game today, was catch before you dribble," Kilpatrick said. "If you don't look before you dribble, you're going to dribble into trouble. So just catch and try to pass through it, and we worked on that a lot in practice yesterday. I don't know what our turnover numbers were, but I don't think they were too bad."

Outnumbered, but not outdone: For the Bengals, times like these -- dressing just eight, missing key players -- call for players to step up and make a name for themselves. Tonight, that meant a more elevated role down low for senior forward Jerard Mayes, who matched up with LaFrancis for most of the night and held his own.

The 6-foot-4 senior notched a double-double (18 points, 13 rebounds) and was 9-for-12 from the field. Coleman praised the big guy's effort afterwards.

"We knew that losing Nick was going to be big for us, but we've got other guys that can step up," Coleman said. "And Jerard stepped up today."

Recap: No. 10 A-B 59, No. 12 Westford 53

February, 11, 2012
ACTON, Mass. — Rick Kilpatrick knew his team struggled in the second half. He just didn’t realize what kind of drought his team actually went on.

Acton-Boxboro (16-1) didn’t record a field goal for 9:07 to begin the second half, but still hung on to defeat Westford Academy 59-53 last night at Regan Gymnasium in a battle of Dual County League large division heavyweights.

There was almost a look of disbelief, maybe a little shock, when Kilpatrick found out just how long his team went without a field goal.

“I did not realize that,” said Kilpatrick. “I’d say that we probably don’t win the game. You aren’t going to win many games like that. Obviously we were very fortunate. The thing that we talked about more than anything was our defense and making stops and not giving up second shots. … The fact that we went that long without a made basket means that defensively that’s what held us up.”

The Colonials got five free throws in the third quarter and held the Grey Ghosts to eight points in the period to take a 39-35 lead after three. Jake Pilecki finally broke the span with a lay-in with 6:53 left in the fourth quarter to push the Colonials lead to seven and that seemed to settle the rest of the team moving forward.

The hosts scored 11 of the next 16 points as Kevin LaFrancis got back to work on the inside to get to the hoop and get to the line.

“To be honest I didn’t know we had no field goals in the third,” said Pilecki, who finished with 15 points, nine rebounds and five assists. “That’s a tough stat. We kind of got stagnant off the ball and weren’t moving like we were in the first half. We were taking quick shots, but we got better at the end, which is what counts.”

Seniors step up: There were two big buckets by LaFrancis (17 points, 15 rebounds) and A.J. Gotthelf that helped seal the victory for the Colonials, who can claim the DCL Large with a win over Lincoln-Sudbury.

The Colonials had a tough time establishing LaFrancis in the post during the entire third quarter, but after the drought ended they were able to get him back-to-back touches in his comfort zone.

Joey Flannery fed LaFrancis on the low left block, and the 6-foot-6-inch center moved in, took the contact and finished with the whistle blaring for a possible 3-point play. LaFrancis sank the freebie and gave the Colonials a 47-39 lead with 6:03 left in the game.

“That was big,” said Kilpatrick. “They were right on the verge and (LaFrancis) has done that for us all year. He makes the big baskets at the big times, and we wanted to get the ball inside to him and we did. It paid off there.”

Gotthelf is about a foot shorter that LaFrancis, but his bucket may have been the bigger, game-finisher with under two minutes to go. Gotthelf had an offensive rebound come right to him and he looked around for someone to feed the ball too. When he realized he was left all alone he fired up a 3-pointer and found nothing but net to help stop a 6-0 run by the Grey Ghosts.

“I was on the other side of the court and I saw the look in his eye and I was like ‘No, don’t shoot it,’” Pilecki said with a laugh. “I know coach might have yelled it too. When he pulled up I just rushed the rim in case there was a rebound, but went it went in the place just went crazy. It was so relieving.”

Slowing down Jann: The Colonials looked like they were running away with the game in the first quarter, but the sharpshooting of Ryan Jann slowly moved Westford Academy back into the game.

Jann hit 4-of-6 from 3-point range and finished with 16 points to lead all scorers in the first half. He did struggle with foul trouble in the second half, and when he was in the game, the Colonials held him to three points on 1-of-7 shooting in the final 16 minutes.

“We just wanted to get out on him a little bit,” said Kilpatrick. “We didn’t get out above the 3-point line enough. He’s such a tall kid and you really have to get your hand up to contest his shots. I thought we did a better job of getting out and trying to contest.”

Recap: No. 15 A-B 58, Boston Latin 50

January, 27, 2012
ANDOVER, Mass. — Jake Pilecki probably won’t lead Acton-Boxboro in scoring or any major statistical category with other key contributors lining the roster of the Colonials.

But that’s not what head coach Rick Kilpatrick needs him to do.

All Pilecki has to do is mimic his production from the Colonials 58-50 victory over Boston Latin (12-3) last night at Regan Gymnasium and the head coach will be happy.

Pilecki poured in five points in the final minute to help the Colonials push past the Wolfpack for the second time this season. The Colonials are now 13-1 on the regular season and Kilpatrick is getting used to seeing Pilecki come up when he is needed most.

“He’s our emotional leader,” said Kilpatrick. “He just brings a lot of energy to our team.”

The teams were locked in a one-possession game after Miles Wright hit a jumper with 1:29 left to go in the game. The Colonials were able to get the ball past the pressure defense and feed it to Pilecki in the post. He felt the defender on his back and instead of kicking it out to an outside shooter he turned and drilled a baseline jumper for a 55-50 lead.

“I wasn’t really thinking,” said Pilecki, who scored eight points on the night and grabbed seven rebounds. “I just got it and knew the shot clock was around (five seconds). I just put it up and I knew I could get over that kid.”

The Colonials came up with a defensive stop on the next possession and the Wofpack were trying to foul, but the Colonials were able to pass it around into Pilecki’s hands without getting a whistle. Pilecki saw the clock winding down, hoisted up a deep 3-pointer and drilled it with the buzzer sounding for the game-clincher.

“I knew there was five seconds and I was just going to pull that no matter what,” said Pilecki.

Pilecki’s clutch performances have not come as a surprise for teammate Kevin LaFrancis.

“He’s been huge,” said LaFrancis. “He’s been the motivator of the team and he’s been the biggest leader for us in the times of the greatest adversity. He’s just shown up in the biggest spots.”

LaFrancis Not Too Shabby: While LaFrancis praised his teammates for clutch finishes, it was the 6-foot-6 center that was the steady force that kept the Colonials afloat in the game.

LaFrancis finished the game with a game-high 27 points and 10 rebounds, with the majority of his buckets coming in the post.

“They guarded us hard, but we felt like we had the height advantage,” said LaFrancis. “We definitely had the advantage on the inside and we tried to exploit that early.”

LaFrancis finished 11-for-17 from the floor and came to life in the beginning of the third quarter. He posted the first eight points of the quarter for the Colonials with a number of post moves. More importantly, he was able to get Mike Wojewodzic and Jack Duggan into foul trouble to break into the depth of the Wolfpack front line.

“That’s what we want to do,” said Kilpatrick. “We want to try and get the ball inside and draw fouls.”

Wolfpack in the Hunt: The emotions were running high for the Wolfpack after dropping the first game of the season against the Colonials and they were in this one all the way to the bitter end.

It’s safe to say that this won’t be the last time anyone hears about Boston Latin.

The Wolfpack are a balanced team with legitimate scorers up and down the lineup. None might be more prolific than Wright. The junior finished with 20 points and showed a good inside game to go along with the lost art that is the midrange jumper.

Wright came away with five steals and nearly threw down a tomahawk dunk on the break that would have brought the Wolfpack a crucial bucket in the final moments of the fourth, but he lost the ball on the way down and it clanged off the rim.

The athleticism is there and he will be a presence that the Dual County League and the rest of the state will have to be aware of.

“He doesn’t realize how good he can be year,” said Wolfpack head coach Brendan Smith. “He’s a young junior. He just turned 16 a littte while ago and he’s not a really a big man but for us he plays big. He’s more of a small forward and he’s going to be a tough cover.”

Added Kilpatrick: “We basically felt that we were going to give him the midrange jumper and we can’t let him get to the rim, because that’s when he’s so tough. To his credit he made them.”

Mid-season Boys Hoop Superlatives

January, 17, 2012
With many teams across the state reaching the midway point of their schedule this week, here are my mid-season picks for our annual MIAA All-State, All-Defensive, and Coach of the Year awards.

G – Aaron Calixte, Jr., Stoughton
G – Steve Haladyna, Sr., St. John’s Prep
G – Tyrese Hoxter, Jr., Charlestown
F – Jake Layman, Sr., King Philip
F – Isshiah Coleman, Jr., New Mission

Yadoris Arias, Sr. G, Lawrence
Tyler Delorey, Sr. G, Holy Name
Matt Droney, Sr. G/F, Catholic Memorial
Joey Glynn, Sr. F, Cardinal Spellman
Leroy Hamilton, Sr. F, New Mission
Jameilen Jones, Jr. G, BC High
Kevin LaFrancis, Sr. C, Acton-Boxborough
Alex Lopez, Sr. G, Springfield Commerce
Damian Lugay, Sr. G, Weymouth
George Merry, Sr. C, Danvers
Marcus Middleton, Jr. G, Stoughton
Matt Mobley, Sr. G/F, St. Peter-Marian
Brian Mukasa, Soph. G, Sharon
Tyler Nelson, Soph. G, Central Catholic
Quinton Perkins, Sr. G, Fitchburg
Luis Puello, Sr. G, Central Catholic
Colin Richey, Jr. G, Whitinsville Christian
Kamari Robinson, Jr. F, Springfield Central
Tyrell Springer, Sr. G, Springfield Central
Michael Thorpe, Sr. G, Newton North

G – Luis Puello, Sr., Central Catholic
G – Anthony Hodges, Sr., Holy Name
F – Jake Layman, Sr., King Philip
F – Antonio Ferreira, Sr., Stoughton
C – George Merry, Sr., Danvers

Scott Boyle, Lowell
Hugh Coleman, Brighton
Paul Connolly, Newton North
Paul DiGeronimo, Fitchburg
John Gallivan, Stoughton
Paul Neal, Lawrence
Brendan Smith, Boston Latin
Malcolm Smith, East Boston
Mike Vaughan, Mansfield
John Walsh, Danvers

Preseason MIAA All-State boys hoop team

December, 8, 2011
Here is ESPN Boston's preseason MIAA All-State boys basketball teams:

G – Steve Haladyna, Sr., St. John’s Prep
G – Luis Puello, Sr., Central Catholic
F – Jake Layman, Sr., King Philip
F – Joey Glynn, Sr., Cardinal Spellman
F – Keandre Stanton, Sr., Lynn English

G – Aaron Calixte, Jr., Stoughton
G – Matt Droney, Sr., Catholic Memorial
G/F – Tyrese Hoxter, Jr., Charlestown
F – Isshiah Coleman, Jr., New Mission
F - Nate Anderson, Jr., New Mission

G – Colin Richey, Jr., Whitinsville Christian
G – Matt Mobley, Sr., St. Peter-Marian
G – Rony Fernandes, Sr., Charlestown
F – Jarrod Neumann, Sr., Northampton
C - Kevin LaFrancis, Sr., Acton-Boxborough

Central Catholic wins RBC Summer Challenge

August, 14, 2011
Here are the final pool play results and playoffs scores from the second and final day of the RBC High School Summer Challenge, at Coolidge Middle School in Reading.

[+] EnlargeCentral Catholic basketball team
Brendan Hall/ESPNBoston.comCentral Catholic took home the RBC High School Summer Challenge championship.
Pool Play
Ashland 59, Austin Prep 42
Central Catholic 58, Acton-Boxborough 36

Byes: Central Catholic, North Andover
Manchester-Essex 73, Acton-Boxborough 70
St. John's Prep 60, Belmont 55

Central Catholic 100, Manchester-Essex 77
North Andover 70, St. John's Prep 63

Central Catholic 72, North Andover 49


Doug Gemmell, Central Catholic
Tyler Nelson, Central Catholic
Nick Cambio, Central Catholic
Zack Karalis, North Andover
Isaiah Nelson, North Andover
Colby Smith, North Andover
Steve Haladyna, St. John's Prep
Freddy Shove, St. John's Prep
Owen Marchetti, St. John's Prep
Joe Flannery, Acton-Boxborough
Kevin LaFrancis, Acton-Boxborough
Taylor Ketchum, Manchester-Essex
Sean Nally, Manchester-Essex
Chris Bishop, Manchester-Essex
John Dillon, Belmont
Sam Musler, Belmont
Tim Juih, Ashland
Rodney Morton, Malden

LaFrancis steps up, leads A-B past Andover

March, 2, 2011

ACTON, Mass. -- Twenty-four hours before his Acton-Boxborough squad was set to host Andover in a first-round battle between two Division 1 North sleepers, Colonials head coach Rick Kilpatrick had some sound advice for his 6-foot-6 junior center. Namely, with at least a three-inch height advantage over anyone else on the floor, he was going to have to step up and dominate.

Suffice it to say, with the Golden Warriors doing everything they could to shut down star guard Sam Longwell, Kevin LaFrancis seized the moment. He turned in arguably his best performance of the season, with 21 points and 16 rebounds, as the Colonials held off a furious Andover rally to win going away, 68-54, in this D1 North first round game.

The No. 6 seed Colonials (19-3) move on to the quarterfinals, where they will visit No. 3 Lynn English (20-2) at a date to be determined. English knocked off Everett tonight, 68-57.

"We did a really good job of getting the ball inside to Kevin," Kilpatrick said. "We work on post feeds every day. We knew we were going to have a size advantage in this game, and I thought our guys responded, took care of the ball and got it to him."

Asked what his reaction would have been had he been told before the game that they'd win going away, with star guard Sam Longwell (eight) bottled up most of the night, LaFrancis smiled and took it in stride.

"I would have said Wes [Schroll] had 42 points," he laughed, referring to the Colonials' other dynamic playmaker who finished with 18 points and six boards. "No but, they focused their gameplan on Sam, so when they do that, other guys have got to step up. And I think Wes and I did that tonight. Dana Flood came up with some big three's. We all just came together."

Trailing 14-13 after one quarter of play, the Colonials outscored the Warriors 20-6 over the next stanza to take a 13-point halftime lead, aided by back-to-back three-pointers by Longwell and Joey Flannery (10 points).

But the biggest facet keying the run was unquestionably their ability to deliver seamless entry passes to the paint. On some possessions, it was LaFrancis moving out to the wing and hitting a player right on his hands as he came off a screen. Other times, LaFrancis merely backed down his defender in the post, diverting attention in the Warriors' 2-3 zone or simply going up with it to draw contact.

The Colonials also helped their first-half cause on the glass, outrebounding the Warriors 21-9 -- including eight from LaFrancis.

"We were just getting every rebound," LaFrancis said. "Our guards did a great job boxing out. I think we had five on the glass, and they weren't making their shots. That was the key to our run.

Indeed, it was a miserable first half for Andover star Joe Bramanti (26 points), to say the least -- the Merrimack Valley Conference MVP went a pedestrian 2 for 9 from the field in the first 16 minutes. But a player with Bramanti's talents doesn't stay cold forever.

The 6-foot-3 senior exploded for 13 points, hitting 4 of 5 from the field, nailing all five of his free throws, and throwing down one monster one-handed running dunk that put the Andover supporters on their feet. Bramanti's resurgence, along with a series of turnovers caused with various presses -- 1-3-1, 1-2-2 and man the most prevalent -- eventually cut A-B's lead to five at several points early in the fourth quarter.

All this, in spite of many of its players in foul trouble -- especially James Costello, who sat with three in the first half before fouling out, and sophomore Sam Dowden, who faced similar struggles.

"I just told the kids, if you're going to go out like that, after playing 20 games against the perennial powers of Massachusetts, that's a sad way to go out," head coach Dave Fazio said. "You know, it's a sad way to go out. We didn't even swing the bat in the first half. And then in the second always, these kids are warriors. They fought, they kept coming back...I'm proud of the fact my kids didn't roll over in the second half. I knew they wouldn't, I just didn't know if we'd have enough legs."

Bramanti's two free throws cut the Colonials' lead to 51-46 with 5:30 to go, but that was as close as the Warriors would reach. With time running out, they resorted to a slew of errant long-range perimeter shots, which A-B players rebounded and took a foul to go to the line.


Bramanti put the exclamation point on his revamped scoring touch with the most electric play of the night. From halfway down the paint from the free throw line, the hard-charging senior -- sometimes nicknamed "The Bull" -- lifted off and dunked the ball home with authority, letting out a war cry and flexing his arms to the crowd. While it only cut the lead to 41-29 in the third, it proved a pivotal point in momentum for Andover as it mounted a comeback.

And once again, it goes to show the 6-foot-3 all-everything's potential has at the next level. Bramanti has drawn interest from Division 1 schools such as The Citadel and Dartmouth, while a handful of Northeast-10 schools are also recruiting his services.

"He's gonna be a great college player, there's no doubt about that," Fazio said. "This is going to sting him for a while. But the sky's the limit, and as a coach you want to win a state title, do all the great things, but more importantly you want to do right by the kids. And that kid has gone from a boy to a man in four years at Andover High School, and all in all that's probably the most important thing."

Brendan Hall is a High School Editor for Follow him on Twitter.

No. 7 A-B takes rubber match with No. 8 Westford

February, 12, 2011

WESTFORD, Mass. -- The tempo exceeded full-throttle at times. Shot after shot found nylon, like heavyweights exchanging blows. One player scored his team’s first 14 points while another sank a three-point bucket to beat the halftime buzzer.

No one backed down. Just as one expected.

Friday night’s showdown between Dual County League title contenders Acton-Boxborough and Westford -- the teams’ third meeting of the season -- had almost everything. And similarly, the Colonials' diversified offensive attack proved to be the difference, as A-B silenced the raucous Grey Ghost gym en route to a 74-66 win. The victory puts A-B (15-2, 8-1) alone atop the Dual County League's Large division standings, a game ahead of the Grey Ghosts (14-2, 7-2).

Offensively, the Colonials’ distribution was textbook. Four players scored in double figures, led by versatile junior combo guard Joey Flannery, who posted a team-high 21 points to go along with five rebounds.

Facing everything from a conventional half-court man-to-man defense to a full-court zone trap, A-B received consistent production as well from senior guards Wes Schroll (18 points) and Sam Longwell (17 points), as well as junior center Kevin LaFrancis (12 points, seven rebounds), who proved instrumental in gobbling up rebounds on both the offense and defensive ends, as well as containing the Grey Ghosts' dribble penetration in and around the paint.

“I thought [LaFrancis] was terrific,” A-B head coach Rick Kilpatrick said. “I thought this was as well as he’s played all year.

“He just had a presence about him tonight, wherever he was. He was a big part of the win, there’s no doubt.”

From the opening tip, the exceedingly high levels of intensity shown by both squads were hard to ignore. The first quarter featured 15 combined field goals, with Westford’s overtly talented forward Mark Cornelius (28 points, six rebounds) taking center stage. The senior offensive wizard opened the game on a tear, taking and making his team’s first six shots, including two from beyond the arc.

“He can do so many things,” Kilpatrick said of the Grey Ghosts’ offensive catalyst. “We can put a big guy on him, and he goes and hits some threes in the first quarter. Then I put a guard on him, and he’s going inside and scoring. And he gets rebounds. And he’s so quick off the ground...He’s just a great player. He’s a matchup nightmare.”

As the first eight minutes came to completion, with A-B ahead, 21-16, all those in attendance gave a thunderous ovation for the offensive display.

The second quarter, however, proved far less explosive, with neither team establishing much rhythm.

Yet after a three-point attempt clanked off the back rim with about five seconds to go in the half, A-B’s Longwell gathered his own rebounds while almost simultaneous launching another shot from downtown, this time finding the twine as the buzzer sounded.

A-B ended the half on a 9-1 run, up 32-23 after the first 16 minutes.

The final two quarters were defined by two themes: Westford’s persistence and the Colonials resiliency. Despite never leading after losing the lead with 1:17 to go in the first quarter and trailing by double digits on five separate instances in the second half, the Grey Ghosts continued applying the pressure.

With less than six minutes to go in the fourth quarter, Westford narrowed the deficit to two points, still behind 55-53.

“I just feel that we’re so even as two teams,” Kilpatrick said, “and we know each other so well, that even when one team goes up … you kind of know the other team’s going to get back.”

However, after picking up his fourth foul on a charge call while elevating for a five-foot leaner, Cornelius subsequently fouled LaFrancis on the Colonials ensuing possession, exiting the contest with about five minutes to play.

Going 13-for-15 from the charity stripe in the closing period, A-B (24-for-28 from the foul line altogether) was able to hold off a couple late threats from the Ghosts, including its full-court trap defense and six fourth-quarter points from junior guard Ryan Jann (14 points).

Being able to continually fight off the Ghosts’ attacks showed something about the Colonial team, Longwell said.

“Before every game, we talk about trust,” he said. “And we come together and we pick each other up.

“We all go out there together. If we’re all out there as individuals, it’s really hard to stay calm. As a team, we do it together.”

And earning a victory against an opponent as familiar as Westford?

“It’s amazing how every single time we play them, it’s a one-point game,” reflected LaFrancis. “I’m so proud of our team for showing confidence today. I mean, they came back and we just closed it out.”