Boston High School: Michaela Flanagan

Div. 3 Girls: Abp. Williams 46, Coyle-Cassidy 44

March, 6, 2012
(Video courtesy of Eric Esteeves)

BROCKTON, Mass. -- Archbishop Williams' Sara Ryan watched as her layup clanked off the front of the rim, then exhaled when sophomore Leah Spencer swooped in from the backside, and floated in the rebound for a go-ahead score against Coyle-Cassidy with 15 seconds left.

And for those final 15 ticks, Ryan was on pins and needles. For the first time since stepping on the TD Garden floor two years ago for the Division 3 Eastern Mass Championship, she said, "my heart was beating out of my chest."

"Literally," she added. "It was so nerve-wracking. But we kept it together."

The Bishops came out of the ensuing timeout and thwarted Coyle from getting a decent look in either of their two final possessions, stuffing a would-be layup at one end and funneling the ballcarrier into a sideline trap at the other end, with some help from Ryan. The Bishops (20-5) held on for a 46-44 comeback victory over the Warriors before a capacity crowd at Massasoit Community College, avenging last year's Division 3 South final loss and punching their ticket to return trip in the process.

"It's happened before, where we've come back and won," Ryan said. "We never let our heads down. The fans are crazy, we never let them get to us. We do what we have to do."

Ryan (11 points, three steals, two blocks) tied it up at 44-all with three minutes to go, snatching an inbounds pass in the corner deep in Coyle (20-2) territory and dishing to a wide-open Spencer charging the lane.

For the next 2:45, neither team could manage a point, not even a free throw. Instead, the raucous crowds were treated to forced turnover after first turnover, neither team allowing the other much in the way of good approaches to the basket.

Archies head coach Jim Bancroft called a timeout with 1:24 to play. Out of that, Michaela Flanagan swung behind a screen to the top of the key and launched a three-point shot that rolled in and then out.

Coyle's Tricia Quinn was there for the rebound, but down at the other end the Warriors ran into more trouble. Andreya DeSousa lost control of her dribble in front of an Archies defender, but caught a break when a jump ball was called, keeping possession at Coyle's end. But with two seconds remaining on the shot clock, Quinn was forced to heave up an off-balance three-point attempt from the left wing.

Kayla Papazian scooped up the ball at the weakside post and tossed it off to Ryan, who came dribbling up the middle of the court as the Bishops set up for an isolation. Ryan rolled around a screen on the right wing, drove in between two Coyle defenders and tried to kiss the glass with a right-handed layup, only to see it pop off the front iron.

Luckily Spencer (11 points, nine rebounds), who had just cut across to the left elbow on the clearout, was in good position for the put-back from the weak side.

"I was thinking, she might miss it, so I had to be in there for the rebound," Spencer said. "I was in the right place at the right time."

A timeout was immediately called. Out of it, Quinn was stuffed by 6-foot-2 sophomore Olivia Conrad driving down the left side, resulting in a jump ball, Archies possession, and another timeout called by Bancroft. Spencer was fouled when play resumed, but she missed both her shots.

But the Bishops' bothersome press defense was there to seal the deal. After the inbounds, Coyle's ballcarrier was funneled to the sideline by Ryan, and met with a trap. Coyle was unable to get a last-second shot off.

"We thought we'd be able to wear them down, but they just kept coming back and back," Bancroft said of Coyle. "I've got to give them a lot of credit for playing a tough game."

Quinn, a 6-foot-2 senior, finished with eight points, 10 rebounds and six blocks in her final game for Coyle. DeSousa led the Warriors with 15 points, while 6-foot sophomore Lindsay Bumila had a double-double (13 points, 13 rebounds).

Bishops on the Swarm: Bancroft kidded that on most nights, he waits "too long" to apply full-court pressure. But on this night, trailing 12-7 after one quarter and 21-12 midway through the second, time was of the essence.

"I decided, screw it, we've got to go for it," Bancroft said. "We were down by six, I think, and it didn't feel like we were going to get back in the game unless we put some pressure on them with some trapping. I figured that was the only way we were going to get back into it."

With its combination of length and lateral quickness -- and its depth off the bench in both categories -- the Archies press can be suffocating when applied correctly. With Ryan leading the way, backcourt pressure was intense and immediate, with the junior captain usually picking up the ballcarrier immediately after the inbound, staying on her hip and sealing her off to either sideline.

When they went with a 2-2-1 look, a defender or two often converged on a ballhandler deep in their own end.

Down 37-33 to start the fourth quarter, Ryan quickly evened it up with two quick steals for baskets. By the waning minutes of the fourth, Coyle players were pressured so deep in their territory they were dribbling the ball back and forth along their own baseline.

Just how much do these girls work on that lateral quickness?

"Probably for the whole practice," Ryan said, laughing, with a hint of sarcasm. "Just kidding. But no, we do it a lot. We've got to stay in shape. Games like these, it comes in handy, too."

Up Next: The Bishops will be making their sixth straight appearance in the Division 3 South Final when they face off with Fairhaven on Saturday at UMass-Boston. Archies won the South four years in a row, winning back-to-back state titles in 2007 and 2008, before bowing out to Coyle in last year's final.

Fairhaven cruised to an easy 56-41 win over Martha's Vineyard in the semifinal immediately preceding Archies' battle with Coyle at Massasoit.

IAABO Board 130: Central, Pentucket win finals

February, 20, 2012

LAWRENCE, Mass. — If this was a potential preview of what's to come in the MIAA Tournament, then fans of high school basketball in the area are in for a treat.

Central Catholic nipped St. John’s Prep, 59-58, on a lay-in by Nick Cambio with six seconds left to claim the IAABO Board 130 Basketball Classic last night on its home floor.

Joel Berroa, who made the pass to Cambio on the determining bucket and who finished as the tournament MVP, played sparingly in the first half due to foul trouble but came on with 13 points and three tide-changing 3-pointers in the fourth period.

Cambio (four points) also picked up three quick fouls in the first half and only finished with two field goals, but got the one when it mattered most.

“When they got in the flow a little bit in the second half I felt like it was the difference for us with (Berroa) hitting some big shots and (Cambio) finishing in the paint,” said Raiders (20-1) coach Rick Nault.

The Game-Winner: The Eagles (13-7) got the ball back down a point after a costly turnover by the Raiders with 33.6 seconds on the clock.

Mike Carbone drove down a crowded lane and his shot bounced out, but Steve Haladyna (25 points, 10 rebounds) tipped the ball twice to himself over a couple of Raiders, and he was fouled sending him to the line for a 1-and-1 situation.

Haladyna sank the first free throw to tie things at 57 and nailed the first for the one-point lead with 18.5 seconds remaining in the game. Central Catholic decided against a timeout after the made bucket, but Nault quickly changed his mind when the ball got stuck at halfcourt with several Prep defenders in good position.

Nault knew exactly what play he wanted to run out of the timeout with 11.5 seconds left, but Cambio jokingly said that his coach had a little bit of trouble communicating exactly what X’s and O’s were going to be drawn up.

Apparently all of those hours of practice can build silent communication between coaches and players.

“He was too nervous writing down the play and he forgot what it was,” Cambio said with a big smile on his face. “We ran the play and that’s what the play was, an up top handoff and back screen pick over the top, and I got the lay-up.”

Berroa got the ball at the top of the 3-point line and Cambio was able to slide wide open on backdoor cut and finish with about six seconds remaining on the clock. Haladyna had an opportunity at the buzzer to take back the win, but his shot from just inside the free throw line hit the back iron and bounced out.

“It was something that we know what it is side-out,” said Nault. “I kind of forgot who was supposed to come to the ball and I was telling my assistant to help me out with it. But the kids knew exactly where to go.”

The foul that didn't come: Prep had three fouls to waste with 11.5 seconds left and the players went for the foul on Berroa and Cambio at the top of the screen that got the latter open, but the contact wasn’t enough to draw a whistle.

“We slapped him a little, but we should have fouled harder,” said Prep head coach Sean Connolly. “I told the refs to look for it, but I guess they didn’t think it was much of a foul.”


Before the girls final, Pentucket head coach John McNamara said his team would be in for a tough task to get a win over Central Catholic on the home floor.

The game was decided after maybe the strongest 16 minutes of defensive basketball by the Sachems.

Pentucket held the Raiders to 12.5 percent shooting and 10 points in the first half to run away with a 59-41 victory.

“We just came out and played defense the way we are capable of,” said McNamara. “We did the things that we had to do.”

The one-two combination of Sarah Higgins (17 points) and tournament MVP Tess Nogueira (19 points) helped carry the offensive load for a team that was 3-3 and one point, but ended the season 18-4.


Westford Academy 85, Lynn English 68
Westford - Alex Preckol 22 points, Matt Ellis 21
English - Keandre Stanton 19 pts, Fred Hogan 18, Ben Bowden 14


Archbishop Williams 61, Revere 38
Williams - Michaela Flanagan - 13 points, Sara Ryan 12
Revere - Caitlyn Caramello - 14 points

Recap: No. 6 Archies 73, No. 22 St. Mary's 51

January, 9, 2012

LYNN, Mass. — Archbishop Williams’ depth, and length in the frontcourt, were too much for St. Mary’s of Lynn, as the Bishops ran away with a 73-51 victory last night at Tony Conigliaro Gymnasium.

Sara Ryan filled the stat sheet with 19 points, seven steals, seven assists, six rebounds and four blocks. Kayla Papazian dominated the second half on the interior with 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Alana Gilmer added 12 points and three blocks to push the Bishops to 8-1 on the season.

The blueprint for the Bishops this season is to hit their opponents with a steady flow of production from the starting five to a solid core off the bench. Ryan and Papazian have been the clear cut go-to players so far this season -- especially in their 104-point outburst against Bishop Feehan –- and with players like Gilmer, Leah Spencer, Michaela Flanagan and Aidan Duquette all ready to come in compete at a similar level, it makes life a little more difficult on opposing coaching staffs.

“The plan is that we keep going at a steady pace,” said Bancroft. “Hopefully, the opponent can’t keep up with us, but you never know.”

The defending Div. 3 state champions were keeping pace with the Bishops in the first half, but the guests started to treat their hosts rather rudely in the third.

The Bishops used stifling press defense, spearheaded by Ryan, to bolt out on a 15-4 run in the period. Olivia Conrad worked well in the post with three straight assists, one to Spencer and the other two to Papazian.

Ryan stole the ball at half court and went in for a lay-in and she put home another lay-up off the glass after another steal. Ryan then nailed a back breaking 3-pointer to push the lead to 19.

“Not most high school girls can go that deep and really not miss a beat,” said Lady Spartans’ head coach Jeff Newhall.

Bishops Rule the Glass: Bancroft has had plenty of guard-oriented teams during his time as Bishops head coach, but this version has plenty of balance up front.

The Bishops have six players who stand 5-foot-9 or taller, and on this night they owned the glass with a 42-21 advantage. Papazian was best in the second half on the glass with nine of her 10 rebounds. She deposited those offensive boards into easy lay-ins to keep the Lady Spartans from sniffing a comeback of any sorts.

More Time for Jaylen: Jaylen Williams, the Bishops 6-foot-3-inch freshman, is still working her way back into form after tweaking her ankle in the first game, and the youngster got some valuable minutes during the first half.

Williams had her moments as an inside presence as she blocked two shots and forced some awkward looking attempts by the Lady Spartans. She did also show that she is still a freshman and that playing against opponents with more experience and physical strength is something she’ll have to get used to.

“Now she’s participating in practice 100 percent, so now we are working her back into the games,” said Bancroft. “We are trying to get her game going. She’s playing against stronger than her and older than her. We need to get her into the games and hopefully use her a lot more as the season goes along.

Next Player Up for St. Mary's: Things have changed for St. Mary’s after the 3-0 start, and after losing Brianna Rudolph to a broken ankle. The Lady Spartans are 5-4 after the loss and looking to right the ship with a cast of younger, but talented players.

“We were getting into a comfort level with our rotation and then she goes down everything kind of changes,” said Newhall. “There’s still an adjustment period for us. On the flip side, playing in this league against this competition is only going to make us better.”

Sophomore Sharell Sanders showed flashes as an up-and-coming point guard for Newhall. She was fearless going to the hall against the much bigger Bishops’ front-line and she showed ranged with two deep 3-pointers.

Sanders finished with 14 points and four steals before fouling out midway through the fourth quarter.

“She does play the game as she possibly can,” said Newhall. “She does put tremendous pressure on the ball. She rushes the ball up and her decision making is good most of the times and she’s under a lot of pressure on both ends of the floor.”