Boston High School: Mitch Perez

Swords slices Eastie in D1 North first round

March, 3, 2011

SUDBURY, Mass. -- When you're seven feet tall, and you're towering over your classmates, you tend to become somewhat of a cult phenomenon when they see you on the court. So it probably wasn't a shock to hear Lincoln-Sudbury's Bowdoin-bound senior John Swords get the loudest ovation from the stands as he took a seat on the bench with two minutes left and the Warriors' Division 1 North first round game in hand.

But on this night, Swords deserved every shred of the pop. He was nearly flawless from the field, going a near-perfect 8 for 9 for 16 points, to go along with 13 rebounds and five blocks in the Warriors' 57-39 win over East Boston, in a Division 1 North first round matchup. With the win, L-S (18-3) moves on to Sunday, where they will face the winner of Friday's clash between St. John's Prep and Billerica.

East Boston ended its season at 16-5.

"It definitely allows us to pressure more," said L-S senior Mitch Perez, who ended up with 15 points. "In the zone, we can extend more because the middle guy has to shoot over him. When they drive, they've got to get over him, they have a couple of slashers and they weren't doing much because he was clogging the middle. He did a great job."

Indeed, the Warriors' defensive mettle was never questioned in this battle with the Jets, widely considered one of the best defensive teams in the city. Where Swords lacks in mobility he makes up for in precision around the rim, timing his blocks and grabbing errant perimeter shots out of the air. And with that in mind, the Warriors sat in a 2-3 zone almost exclusively, forcing the shooting touch of Eastie that on this night was absent. The Jets went a mere 9 for 30 from the field in the first half.

Yet in spite of all that, they trailed just 24-21 at the half. At the break, L-S head coach Pat Callahan stressed a need for more execution in the halfcourt, among other things.

"For us, it was just we needed to up the intensity, because we knew they were going to up theirs," Callahan said. "And offensively, we needed to calm down, get set, and every time you get double-teamed, move the ball."

The Warriors opened the third quarter on a 10-0 run to extend their lead to 13, highlighted by the first of several crowd-popping two-handed slams from Swords, off an entry pass by Perez.

"We talked about it earlier today, there was a thought that one of the strategies might be to try and draw a bunch of fouls on me," said Swords, who had just two fouls and went to the line just twice (missing both times). "I really relied today on the first line of defense guys, my teammates pitching in, so that it wasn't just up to me. And then by the time it gets to me, it's much different. They just threw it right to my hands, they did a great job with that."

Eastie countered with some full-court pressure, but the Warriors had the perfect guy to break it with. Callahan placed swords at center court, providing a release valve to either sideline for a quality press break.

All of it left East Boston head coach Malcolm Smith dejected following the loss. Jeff Amazon led the Jets in the loss with 11 points.

"It's by far our worst game of the year," Smith said. "I guess when you say that eventually you're going to have your worst game of the year, it's too bad it was tonight. I think we shot 27 percent today...obviously the zone did give us some trouble, but I didn't it was as much trouble as us just not being prepared to shoot against it. For some reason, we practiced and prepared for it all day, it just caught up with us."

Cakert sparks No. 20 L-S over No. 7 A-B

February, 9, 2011
ACTON, Mass. -- It’s easy to take a first glance at the Lincoln-Sudbury boys' basketball team and assume its success revolves around 7-foot senior center John Swords.

But as Dual County League rival Acton-Boxborough found out in Tuesday night’s 71-56 loss to the hot-shooting Warriors, there are plenty more reasons why this team has a chance to make a deep tournament run, even in a loaded Division 1 North.

Senior point guard Denny Cakert poured in 26 points, 15 of which came in a crucial stretch in the second and third quarters that pushed his team’s lead to 23 points, stunning the vocal Colonial supporters. As a team, the Warriors were simply on fire, making 55 percent of their shots from the floor, 45 from beyond the arc, and 83 from the charity stripe.

“That’s probably (Cakert’s) best game of the year,” said L-S head coach Patrick Callahan, whose team improved to 14-3 overall, 10-2 in the DCL. “He is, in my opinion, one of the best point guards in the state. But tonight, not only did he lead us on the floor, making sure everyone was doing the right thing, he had the ball probably 75 percent of the time. And 26 points and (six) assists is pretty intense.”

“It was really a great team win,” Cakert said. “Everyone was fired up and everyone was just doing their jobs.”

Conversely, A-B (15-2 overall, 13-1 in the DCL), typically one of the best shooting teams in Eastern Massachusetts, made just 29 percent of its field goals and 22 percent of its 3-pointers. Senior sharpshooter Sam Longwell finished with 26 points for the hosts, but they all came with L-S junior Ben Lawhorn draped all over his jersey, pestering him every time he sized up the rim.

“Longwell is a tremendous shooter and our junior forward Ben Lawhorn has been our lockdown defender all year,” Cakert said. “He brings just incredible intensity to every practice, every game, and he was in (Longwell’s) face. A couple times I tried to say I wanted to cover him but he denied me. He was really excited about covering him.”

L-S broke open a close game with a dominant second quarter, as the visitors made 9-of-13 shots from the field and extended a two-point lead at the end of the first to a 35-19 lead by the break. Cakert scored his team’s first eight points of the quarter. Mitch Perez (11 points) and Mario Payne added a pair of triples to extend the lead to 12, and Cakert hit a put-back and 3-pointer before Swords (13 points, 10 rebounds, two blocks) dropped in a layup to close out the half.

Other than Longwell, who had nine points at the break, no one on A-B had more than two points.

“They did a lot of things tonight that they didn’t do when we played them three weeks ago (an A-B win) defensively and I think it caught us off-guard,” Colonials coach Rick Kilpatrick said. “And, again, I need to make sure we’re not caught off-guard by that.

“To beat them -- and this is what we did the first time -- you have to shoot it well from outside. You can try a hundred different things, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to make jump shots unfortunately. And tonight we didn’t shoot it well from outside.”

The Warriors kept the momentum of the second quarter going in the third, as Cakert, Dominic Douglas (10 points, six rebounds, three assists) and Swords sparked a 7-0 run that made it 42-19. A-B was able to rally in spurts after that, but L-S made 15-of-18 free throws in the fourth quarter to effectively lock down the win.

“This is the happiest I’ve ever been,” Cakert said. “This is an incredible feeling. I’ve never been this happy. I’ve never beaten A-B at their place. So it’s a big win.”