Boston High School: Mike Bisson

Recap: No. 9 Central Catholic 63, No. 12 Prep 60

February, 9, 2014
Feb 9
LAWRENCE, Mass. -- It was the perfect response at the absolutely perfect time in the game.

With a minute and a half left in Sunday matchup between No. 9 Central Catholic and No. 12 St. John’s Prep, Prep’s Kareem Davis drained a three-pointer from the right wing to tie the game at 57. On the ensuing Central possession, Tyler Nelson came down the floor and hit a pull-up three to give his team the lead back and drain any momentum Prep had.

A minute later, Prep senior Max Burt hit a three from the left wing to cut the lead to two points. Prep chose to foul Central big Aaron Hall to make him shoot two free throws. As the Eagles hoped, he missed both. At the other end of the floor, Prep missed two shots and Central’s Nick Cambio came down with the rebound. With 1.5 seconds left on the clock, the senior co-captain hit one of two free throws to make it a three-point game.

Prep threw a last-ditch deep inbounds pass, but Hall came down with it to run out the clock. Central held on to win 63-60.

“This is a very intense rivalry, but it’s a respected rivalry,” said Central (14-4) coach Rick Nault. “We have other rivalries where there is feelings involved, but this one is out of mutual respect. They’re extremely well-coached, always classy kids, who always play the game the right way. We’ve had some really classic games the past 5-6 years and tonight was another one.”

Central started the first two quarters slowly, falling behind by as many as 10 points before increasing its intensity and execution. It ended each quarter down three and four points, respectively.

“We needed to talk more and have more communication on defense,” said Cambio (21 points, 10 rebounds). “We needed to rebound better and get tougher. We needed to get down and play defense as a team, and we did that.”

Central was having trouble defending Davis (14 points). On one possession midway through the second quarter, Davis dribbled the ball on the wing and waited for the offense to spread the floor. When it was set, he beat his man off the dribble and attacked the basket. At the hoop, he left the ball off for Mike Bisson (9 points, 13 rebounds) for an easy layup.

With both teams having already punched their tickets to the postseason, there is a possibility both team’s can play again this season. Cambio welcomes the challenge.

“I hope we see them in the playoffs, to be honest,” he said. “I really want to play them in the playoffs and have another battle. I love playing them. It’s always big to play St. John’s Prep. We always love beating them and they always love beating us, so when we get to play each other, it’s going to be a big game no matter what.”

Post-Up Success: In the first half, Central made a concerted effort to work the ball into the post to Cambio and Hall, but were not having much success. Either the entry passes resulted in turnovers or Prep had it so well defended that Central could not get a quality shot off.

In the second half, Central found more success with its ball movement and Princeton offense with Cambio. The Prep (13-4) defense was overcommitting to the swing passes and was focused on taking away any potential perimeter shot. This left Cambio open on the low block multiple times.

“What happens is the defense always focuses on Tyler, and the only person that can help on that play was Nick Cambio’s man,” said Nault. “We got it three or four times in the second half. If you sag off and go to help on Nick on the backdoor cut, we have Ty open, which we got a few looks out of that as well.”

Matching Expectations: Early in his high school career, Tyler Nelson had a reputation as a long-range shooter who played mostly on the perimeter. Now, because most of the state knows of his proficiency, every team puts their best defender on him every game. He has had to find more ways to get open and figure out what to do with the basketball when he has it.

That was exemplified three times in the second half of Sunday’s game on when he came down with a rebound, turned, and hit A.J. Pettway with an outlet pass for an easy layup.

“In the second half, they did a lot better job of picking me up when I got the ball in transition, so that kind of opened things up for A.J.,” Nelson said. “They kind of sagged and focused on me, Nick (Cambio), and Aaron (Hall), so for them to leak out for layups, it just happened to be there.”

He finished the game with 20 points and seven rebounds.

With the graduation of last year’s starting point guard, Lucas Hammel, Nelson has had the ball in his hands more this season. For a player that thrives playing off the ball and coming off screens to create his own shot, he has had to become more of an all-around scorer instead of being simply a jump shooter.

“He is a scorer, one of the best that we’ve had,” said Nault. “He gets to the lane and creates fouls and finds others. Down the stretch, we got a few baskets from Nick Cambio because all the attention was on Tyler, so he makes the assist for an easy layup. Right now, he’s just playing at a different level than he was even six or seven games ago.”

He had nine points going into halftime, but found ways to get open and help his team in the second half. He was also a perfect 8-for-8 from the free throw line in the game. Central has more youth in its backcourt this year than it has been used to in recent years, so Tyler is relied on to score in big spots in the game, and Sunday was no different. When his team needed a basket towards the end of the game, he drained the decisive three.

“First half, he was struggling a little, but Tyler always comes through and always pushes himself and always ends up hitting shots in the second half,” said Cambio. “That helps us a lot.”

Recap: No. 8 St. John's Prep 67, Lynn Classical 60

December, 19, 2013
DANVERS, Mass. –- St. John’s Prep answered plenty of question on Wednesday, a much needed accomplishment following an offseason that saw plenty of shuffling around in the program.

How would the Eagles (1-0) respond in John Dullea’s first year at the helm? Could Ben Judson be the team leader after being a role player last year? Can Lowell transfer Kareem Davis make a quick and painless transition at his new school?

Consider those questions answered, as Judson (25 points), Davis (19 points), and sixth-man Mike Bisson (13 points, 11 rebounds) combined for 57 of the Eagles’ 67 points on their way to a 67-60 victory over Lynn Classical (0-1).

And as for Dullea, Prep’s newly-hired head coach managed to brush off some of the opening game jitters:

"I was definitely nervous. I’ve been here, but it’s a different level from when you’re an assistant coach to a head coach," Dullea said. "The anxiety, the nerves leading up to the game, you have to be ready to make a call, make a play in the spur of the moment."

Judson got off to quick-start in the first half, helping the Eagles jump out to a 24-8 lead in the second quarter. A lights-out shooter who has now shown that he can also score off the dribble, Judson is taking on the role of emotional leader this year for the Prep, a role previously occupied by last year’s senior captain Drex Costello.

"I’m just trying to be a leader for everyone else and help out the younger guys; adding to my game too -- mid-range, post game, driving to the hoop more and not just catching and shooting," Judson said. "I’m looking to do a little of everything this year offensively and defensively too."

Despite being down by 16 at one point early on, Classical was able to climb back into the game on the shoulders of senior guard Phil Rogers (17 points). Thanks to their ability to move the ball and pull down offensive rebounds, the Rams pulled within nine points at halftime and at one point brought the lead down to 55-53 following a 7-0 run anchored by Jordan Brown and Ronnie Williams (12 points).

"They’re a very physical team, a very athletic team," Dullea said. "They weren’t running too many sets, they were just beating us one-on-one. They made some tough shots. I give them credit, they made a ton of tough shots. We pride ourselves on defense, I admit it wasn’t our best effort tonight, we’ll get better at it.

"We had a couple lapses: guys didn’t know who they were covering, [Classical] had 20 offensive rebounds, which we cannot have, we won’t win if we do that."

The Eagles, in search of a spark, found it in Davis and Bisson. The sixth-man who was a rarely-used reserve on last year’s roster, Bisson finished with a double-double and hit some tough shots for the Eagles from all over the floor.

"He’s long, he’s going to usually have a bigger guy covering him," Dullea said. "He’s very versatile; we talked to him at the beginning of the year about his role as the sixth man. He’s a very athletic player, a very versatile player, he’s very hard to cover. We’re looking for big things from Mike, he had a good game tonight."

Finishing 10-of-11 from the free throw line and taking on the responsibilities of the primary ball handler in the Prep offense, Davis proved to be the most experienced player on the floor. Despite struggling to hit from three, Davis still managed to dribble in the paint nearly at will; his slick crossover dribble often drew “ooh’s” and “aah’s” from the home crowd.

Davis penetrated the Classical defense with 58 seconds to go in the game and finished an acrobatic lay-in off the glass to put the Prep lead at 62-55, all but sealing the victory for the Eagles.

"He was tremendous. He’s going to have the ball in his hands most of the time at the end of the game, he’s going to get to the foul line, and he’s going to have to step up and make them," Dullea said. "Every time we tried to run a set, he was the floor leader for us. A couple turnovers at the beginning; I think he was probably just a little nervous playing his first game here. But he was terrific, he really was."

There are many improvements to be made, a point Dullea hit on after the game, but the Eagles certainly have reason to be optimistic after answering the call on a night where nervousness ran rampant before the game. Behind their first-year head coach, talented transfer point guard, energized sixth-man with infrequent experience, and role player turned budding star, the Eagles look like a team built to be one of the best in Division 1.

"Mike stepped up tonight, a lot. Last year he didn’t play a whole lot but this year he knows he has a big role. Kareem, he was attacking off the dribble and that just opens everything up on the court," Judson said. "Us three attacking the basket, they couldn’t really stop that. I don’t know many teams who will be able to, but we need to just keep doing that."