Boston High School: Olivia Conrad

Comcast: No. 2 Archies 45, No. 4 Billerica 39

February, 17, 2013
WELLESLEY, Mass. -– When the schedule was released for the Comcast IAABO Board 27 Classic, the opening game on the docket raised the eyebrows of many who follow Massachusetts high school girl’s basketball.

Catholic Central League champion No. 2 Archbishop Williams and Merrimack Valley Conference Large champion No. 4 Billerica opened Sunday’s tournament at Babson College in front of a packed house.

After 32 minutes of grinding, defensive basketball it was Archbishop Williams (17-4) who came out on top as they outlasted Billerica, 45-39, in the first girls semifinal game.

Archies started and finished the game strong despite Billerica hanging tough throughout. Both teams employed various zone and match-up defenses that helped dictate the pace of the low-scoring affair.

Archies junior guard Leah Spencer scored seven of her game-high 13 points in the opening quarter, as Archies took a 14-7 lead out of the gate.

Billerica (16-2) trailed for most of the game, until the final quarter of play when they battled back to tie it at 36-36. The Indians overcame a clear height advantage to get to loose balls and grind their way back into the contest.

“Some shots started to fall in the second half,” Billerica head coach Chris Doneski said after the game. “We are usually pretty good at being able to score on the interior but their size really took a lot of that away.”

With 4:37 remaining in the game and the game tied at 36-36, Archies ran off seven straight points in less than two minutes to give them the momentum and cushion to hold on for the win.

Archbishop Williams converted 10-of-13 free throws in the final quarter of play to hold off any final comeback attempt.

Playing their third game in four days, Archbishop Williams battled through some fatigue to get the necessary defensive stops down the stretch.

“This is our third game in four days against three good teams,” Archbishop Williams head coach Jim Bancroft said. “We will take the win and hopefully be ready to go for tomorrow.”

Archies sophomore forward Alana Gilmer scored eight points, grabbed nine rebounds and had four steals in the win. Junior forward Olivia Conrad (10 points) and sophomore center Jaylen Williams (10 rebounds, four blocks) were also key factors in the paint for Archies.

Billerica was led by senior center Joslyn King (10 points, 13 rebounds). King played her best basketball in Billerica’s fourth quarter comeback run. Senior guard Brittany Lomanno and senior forward Danielle Nickerson both had eight points for the Indians.

Clutch Senior: Archie’s senior guard Sara Ryan was big down the stretch with two steals and five points -- including a pivotal and-one conversion, in the final minutes of the fourth quarter to help seal the victory.

The Southern New Hampshire University-bound Ryan scored 10 points to go with four steals on the afternoon.

“She has been on Varsity for four years so she understands what we are trying to,” Bancroft added. “She steps in and talks to the team at the half and at timeouts and gives the team positive feedback. She has turned out to be a really good leader.”

Monday’s match-ups: No. 2 Archbishop Williams will take on No. 1 Reading in Monday’s final. The two top teams in ESPN Boston’s latest girls poll will tip at 2:30 p.m. at Babson.

Reading defeated Natick 64-40 n the second semi-final game. Richmond-bound forward Olivia Healy (30 points) and junior guard Bridget Clements (14 points, all in the first half) led the way for the Rockets.

The consolation game between Billerica and Natick starts the final day of action at 1 p.m.

Recap: No. 3 Archies 59. No. 4 St. Mary's (Lynn) 40

January, 13, 2013
BOSTON -– Archbishop Williams moved into sole possession of first place in the Catholic Central Large as they defeated league rival St. Mary’s of Lynn 59-40 at Emmanuel College on Saturday night.

Defense and rebounding proved to be the key factors in the second half as the Bishops attacked the offensive glass and used a menacing full-court press to extend the lead in the latter part of the game.

“Our offense is not really clicking as well as it should,” Archbishop Williams head coach Jim Bancroft said after the game. “We are relying on getting some easy hoops off of steals and off of our pressure.”

Leading 28-20 at the half, Archies (6-3) used their full-court press to give St. Mary’s (8-1) trouble and force multiple turnovers. The Bishops outscored St. Mary’s 17-6 in the third to take a commanding 45-26 to the final quarter of play.

The 1-2-1-1 full-court press has become a major asset for the Bishops, who use the pressure defense to their advantage in their confined home-court gym in Braintree.

“It works good in our gym, and in the Catholic Central League a lot of the gyms are real small, so our zone press works really well,” Bancroft said. “Coming in here I was not t sure. We tried it in New Jersey on a couple of bigger courts and struggled with it, but we worked on it in practice and I thought they did a good job.”

The Bishops also controlled the paint and the glass as sophomore forward Alana Gilmer (15 points, eight rebounds, two blocks), junior forward Olivia Conrad (nine points) and 6-foot-3 sophomore center Jaylen Williams (four points, seven rebounds, three blocks) made it difficult for St. Mary’s to earn anything close to the basket.

“We are taller than most teams so we are starting to get used it,” Gilmer said. “We have really worked on getting a body on our player and then go for the ball.”

The Bishops also received strong efforts from their starting backcourt of senior shooting guard Sara Ryan (10 points, five assists) and junior point guard Leah Spencer (nine points, four steals).

St. Mary’s was led by junior point guard Sharell Sanders, who scored 14 of her game-high 18 points in the opening half. The diminutive guard was even more impressive on the glass as she pulled down a team-high nine rebounds to go along with six steals.
Junior guard Jennie Mucciarone (eight points, four steals) and senior Emily Doyle (seven points) both had strong fourth quarters for St. Mary’s.

Early Season Victories: Despite dropping all three out-of-state contests to Blair Academy (N.J.), Nazareth (N.Y.), and La Salle Academy (R.I.), the Bishops have picked up pivotal early season league wins.

On Tuesday night, Archies defeated Arlington Catholic, 60-41, and are now 5-0 in Catholic Central Large play after tonight’s win.

“All of these early wins are very important for us,” Gilmer added. “We want to be number one in the league and these games help us with our goal.”

Match-up Nightmare: The 6-foot Gilmer proved that she has the complete offensive package as she scored from inside the paint and also from the perimeter. Her versatility and athleticism create a match-up nightmare for opposing teams.

One of the premier players in the Class of 2015, Gilmer showed why she has Division 1 suitors in hot pursuit as her improved game and vast skill sets are unique in Massachusetts’ girls basketball scene.

“Up through her freshman year in high school everyone played her as a post player,” Bancroft added. “Last year we turned her around and faced her up and that is where she is going to end up playing at in college. She has become stronger and her foot speed is better now. Her ability to face-up along with her ability to play with her back to the basket makes her tough to cover.”

Roundtable: Preseason MIAA hoop primer

November, 25, 2012
With the first MIAA-sanctioned practices of the 2012-13 season set to commence tomorrow, today we're looking at the top storylines and top players from across the state.

Check back with us later in the preseason for our first Top 25 poll and our Preseason All-State Teams. But for now, here are the storylines to watch, and our projected Super Teams.


Brendan Hall
ESPN Boston High Schools editor

Reading Machine Rages On
Had it not been for Andover and superstar Nicole Boudreau, the Division 2 state champ Reading Rockets would have been garnering far more attention last season. The Rockets were one of the state's most dominant forces from wire to wire, going 25-0 en route to the program's first state title. They were one of the state's most explosive offenses (64.3 points per game), and blew out nearly everyone -- their average margin of victory was 27.1, with their only threats coming in the North final (49-46 over Arlington Catholic) and Eastern Mass. Final (71-64 over Scituate, in overtime).

The conversation in Reading starts with Richmond-bound guard/forward Olivia Healy, a two-time ESPN Boston All-State and one of the early favorites for our Miss Basketball award. The 5-foot-10 senior can play any position on the floor, excels on the boards, and is as physical as they come. But every superstar needs a supporting cast, and you can't do much better than Assumption-bound guard Morgan O'Brien in that regard.

With Andover expected to level off following the graduation of one of the MIAA's best ever (Boudreau), we're most likely looking at Reading starting the year at No. 1 in our statewide girls' poll, which will be released later this preseason.

Fierce, Fierce City A
Over the offseason, the Boston City League voted overwhelmingly to split into three tiers for boys basketball, based on competitive balance. And with it, the city's "A" division instantly becomes the state's toughest league. City A is comprised of Brighton, New Mission, Madison Park, Charlestown and East Boston -- all teams expected to start the season in our statewide Top 25 poll -- and with the new scheduling setup, we're looking at appointment viewing in the city nearly every night.

Charlestown-Eastie, Mission-Brighton and Eastie-Madison are the city's three fiercest basketball rivalries. Now, on top of those series, we're getting two installments of Mission-Madison, Brighton-Eastie, Charlestown-Mission, Madison-Brighton, and so forth. Brighton and MP figure to be the favorites here, but this is going to be an absolute grinder of a league. Of the highest degree.

Swat Team
Anyone that watched the University of Kentucky last season can tell you how valuable Anthony Davis was despite an unpolished offensive game. Heck, he was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four despite going just 1-for-10 from the field in the championship game.

Last year our Defensive Player of the Year award went to a guard, Stoughton's Marcus Middleton, but I'm looking at a number of frontcourt shot-blockers to contend for the award. Any conversation about swatters in the MIAA has to begin with New Mission's Isshiah Coleman, but keep an eye on Cambridge's Fredens Deneus, a 6-foot-6 junior who is expected to have a breakout season. Rockland's Tyler Gibson, a UMass-Lowell commit, will alter many a shot in the South Shore League. Also keep an eye on Holy Name's Dan Kegbeh, only 6-foot-1 but blessed with some impressive ups.

On the girls' side, Holy Name's Brianna Frias is my early favorite for Defensive Player of the Year. The 6-foot junior committed to Providence over the summer, and averaged six blocks per game last season as the Naps went 20-0 in the regular season and captured the No. 1 seed in Division 1 Central.

Sizzlin' Sophs
Across the state, there are a number of Class of 2015 players to get excited about. Springfield Central's Chris Baldwin has yet to play in an MIAA game, having played his freshman season down the street at Hillside School, but he is already garnering significant hype. Wakefield's Bruce Brown showed freak athletic ability at times during his freshman campaign for the Warriors, and figures to be regarded as one of the state's elite by season's end. Same for Mansfield's Brendan Hill and St. John's of Shrewsbury's Davon Jones.

Central Catholic junior Tyler Nelson is on the short list as everyone's favorite shooter, and deservedly so, but Newton North sophomore guard Tommy Mobley is as automatic as they come. He plays a different role for the Tigers than his older brother, 6-foot-8 Yale forward Greg Kelley, did several years ago. But when you talk about the elite shooters in the state, Mobley has the potential to be in that conversation.

Also keep an eye on Falmouth guard Craig Green, a three-sport star who's already on the radar for track and field. He turned many heads last June, when he placed third in New Englands in the 100-meter dash. He has run as fast as a 10.6 in the event so far in his young career.

On the girls' side, we all know the capabilities of Braintree's Molly Reagan. The 6-foot-1 center was a key cog in the Wamps' run to the Division 1 South title last March, and she already holds Division 1 offers. On the flip side, Archbishop Williams' Jaylen Williams committed to Penn State this past summer despite playing limited minutes for the Bishops.

But the potential speaks for itself. For one, Williams is 6-foot-3 and long. For another, there is plenty of pedigree. She is the daughter of former New England Patriots defensive lineman Brent Williams, and the younger sister of two high Division 1 college football players -- North Carolina offensive tackle Brennan Williams, and Ohio State linebacker Camren Williams.

Open Waters in the North
I'm not sure which will be the more interesting race in the North -- Division 1 girls, or Division 2 boys.

In Division 1 girls, we're looking at a number of contenders in the North. Nobody's counting out Andover in spite of the talent graduated, but it should be an interesting race in the Merrimack Valley Conference with Central Catholic and Billerica figuring to start the year high in many polls. Lincoln-Sudbury will be another contender, led by Lafayette-bound forward Ashley Lutz, as will be Lynn English and reigning Northeastern Conference MVP Catherine Stinson. The ultimate wild card might be Cambridge, led by Georgia Tech-bound guard Donnaizha Fountain. And don't count out Somerville, either, with Indira Evans in the fold.

Division 2 North will be an interesting bracket. New Mission returns a strong core, but so does Brighton, behind returning All-State guard Malik James, forwards Nick Simpson and Prince Unaegbu, and one of the state's best shooters, Daivon Edwards. Ditto Wakefield, with Bruce Brown expected to have a breakout year alongside seniors Kendall Hamilton and Mikol Blake-Green.


G - Jameilen Jones, Sr., BC High
G - Tyler Nelson, Jr., Central Catholic
G - Malik James, Jr., Brighton
F - Kamari Robinson, Sr., Springfield Central
F - Tyler Gibson, Sr., Rockland

G - Donnaizha Fountain, Sr., Cambridge
G - Sarah Hope, Sr., Medway
G/F - Olivia Healy, Sr., Reading
F - Ashley Lutz, Sr., Lincoln-Sudbury
C - Molly Reagan, Soph., Braintree


Ryan Kilian
Editor-in-Chief, New England Prep Stars

Central Reign
Can Central Catholic represent Eastern Massachusetts in the state finals this season in Division 1? Central returns a battle tested and veteran group that represented EMass Division 1 as the top seed in last season’s MIAA tournament. Central boasts key returnees Tyler Nelson, Joel Berroa, Doug Gemmell and Nick Cambio.

Veteran Sophomore Talent
Mansfield’s Brendan Hill and Wakefield’s Bruce Brown are two of the top returning players in Massachusetts. They are also only sophomores. Both sophomores started and lead their respective teams deep into tournament play as freshman and we can expect even bigger seasons from both this year.

Best Frontcourt?
Massachusetts has a very strong group of point guards this season but the depth in the frontcourt is down in part of the continued flood of players to prep schools. New Mission (Nate Anderson and Isshiah Coleman) and Central Catholic (Gemmell and Cambio) are at the top of the frontcourt ranks but look out for North Andover and Charlestown to also have improved front lines with the development of returning veterans as well as additions of new talent to the mix.

Replacing Boudreau
It will be impossible to replace two-time Miss Basketball Nicole Boudreau (Boston College), but Andover does return senior Devon Caveany, and the glue of the squad in top defenders Jackie and Rebecca Alois. Expect some more classic Central Catholic and Andover battles for years to come in the MVC.

Special time for City of Braintree
The city of Braintree boasts some the best young female talent in the state, with Braintree High School and Archbishop Williams sharing city quarters.

Braintree returns Coach of the Year Kristen McDonnell and a lineup featuring returning senior Rachel Norton, and sophomores Ashley Russell, Bridget Herlihy, and Molly Reagan. Archbishop Williams returns Southern New Hampshire commits Olivia Conrad and Sara Ryan along with Alana Gilmer and Penn State commit Jaylen Williams.


G - Bruce Brown, Soph., Wakefield
G - Tyler Nelson, Jr., Central Catholic
G - Jameilen Jones, Sr., BC High
F - Brendan Hill, Soph., Mansfield
F - Kamari Robinson, Sr., Springfield Central

G - Kayla Burton, Sr., Newton South
G - Donaizha Fountain, Sr., Cambridge Rindge
G - Olivia Healy, Sr., Reading
G - Tajanay Veiga-Lee, Sr., Fenway
F - Saliah Serrette, Sr., Weston


Chris Bradley
ESPN Boston correspondent

Springfield Central Is Back
Saying that Kamari Robinson and sophomore transfer Chris Baldwin are the best frontcourt in the state is no stretch. Robinson helped lead Central to last year’s division 1 state title, averaging a double double while the Golden Eagles went undefeated against MIAA opponents. The 6-foot-7 Baldwin is already drawing in interest from high major division 1 college programs. A strong, athletic forward who is known for his rebounding and sky-rising dunks, he’ll make quite a duo with Robinson, a member of last year’s ESPN Boston All-State Team.

Senior Cornelius Tyson could be primed for a big year as well. The 6-foot-1 guard made quite a showing in last year’s state championship game against Brockton, knocking down four 3-pointers in the second half to lead Central to the Division 1 title.

Can anyone knock off St. John's of Shrewsbury?
The Inter-High has two legitimate Top 25 teams in Worcester South and Doherty. Will this finally be the year that St. John’s doesn’t run away with the Division 1 tournament in Central Mass.? The Pioneers have won five consecutive Central Mass. Division 1 championships, and return yet another talented core from last year’s team. Sophomore point guard Davon Jones has already asserted himself as one of the best guards in the western half of the state, juniors Charlie Murray and TJ Kelley will be a tough duo on the post, and 6-foot-5 senior Ken Harrington is one of the best shooters in central Mass.

Brighton looking for revenge
Last year’s loss to Mahar in the Division 2 state title game was demoralizing to say the least for the Bengals, but another year of maturity should help Brighton come tournament time this year. Junior playmaking guard Malik James will be one of the very best in the MIAA, and he’ll have plenty of weapons around him with forward Nick Simpson and guards Theo Oribhabor and Daivon Edwards. The Boston City League will be a rock fight this year, but battle-tested Brighton will reap the benefits of a tough schedule come tournament time.

New Mission young, but talented
Sophomore guards Greg Bridges, Randy Glenn, and Juwan Gooding will make for quite a show this year when put together with 6-foot-5 forward Isshiah Coleman and 6-foot-7 forward Nate Anderson. The Titans will be young, with less experience at the guard position than many of their opponents, but when all is said and done this could end up being the most talented team in the state this year.

Who will emerge in D3?
Picking favorites in Division 3 is like splitting hairs. Wareham has Darien Fernandez, a waterbug considered one of the best point guards in the state. Danvers returns four starters from last year’s state title team. Quaboag has one of the best inside-out duos in D3 with Thomas Jankins and sophomore Jake Wisniewski. Hopedale has a deep, versatile lineup. Whitinsville Christian has won three straight central Mass. championships. Out in Pittsfield, St. Joseph Central returns the majority of their core from last year’s state finals team—including scoring guard Taverick "Tank" Roberson. Any of these teams could emerge and make a deep run into the tournament in February and March.


G - Malik James, Jr., Brighton
G - Tyler Nelson, Jr., Central Catholic
F - Jameilen Jones, Sr., BC High
F - Kamari Robinson, Sr., Springfield Central
F - Tyler Gibson, Sr., Rockland

G - Kayla Burton, Sr., Newton South
G - Sarah Hope, Sr., Medway
G - Donnaizha Fountain, Sr., Cambridge
F - Casey McLaughlin, Sr., Central Catholic
F - Olivia Healy, Sr., Reading

Behold the Future: MIAA hoop teams to watch

March, 28, 2012
With the unveiling of our MIAA All-State Teams for Boys and Girls late last week, the 2011-12 basketball season has come to close. But before we officially slam the book on another exciting season of hoop, and move on to spring sports, I wanted to get out a few thoughts on the landscape for next season.

To whet your appetite for the 2012-13 season, here are my early projections on the state's must-see teams to watch:


Central Catholic - Plenty of talent returning with this squad, which captured the No. 1 overall spot in Division 1 North despite missing Luis Puello (ankle) for most of the season. ESPN Boston All-State guard Tyler Nelson returns as one of the state’s top shooters, but the Raiders also return all three of their regular bigs in Joel Berroa, Doug Gemmell and Nick Cambio.

New Mission – Apparently it’s never too early for bulletin board fodder, because head coach Cory McCarthy is already making some barnstorming rounds, telling this afternoon that if the Titans don’t win the Division 2 state title next year, “I should be fired.” Bold, yes, but it’s hard not to like a lineup of Isshiah Coleman, Nate Anderson, Greg Bridges, Damion Smith and Shaquan Murray. There is some promising talent in those ranks.

Mansfield – Folks are talking about the Hornets being one of the South region’s top teams in two years’ time, between promising freshman Brendan Hill and sophomore Michael Hershman. I’m of the camp that believes with those two versatile parts, paired with a terrific coach in Mike Vaughan, the future is now.

Taunton – Shaquille O’Neal Davis. That’s legitimately his full name, and one you certainly will not forget by this time next year, for reasons that have nothing to do with The Big Aristotle.

West Springfield – Terriers return virtually everyone, including Chris Lipscomb, Paul Bessette, Andy McNulty, Dewey King, and leading scorer Riyadh Asad. West Side is the early favorite next year in Division 1 West.

St. John’s (Shrewsbury) – Junior transfer Tarik Octave was one of the nice surprises of the playoffs, and freshman Davon Jones has shades of former Pioneers great David White all over him (Doesn’t hurt that Jones was also the Pioneers’ starter at safety last fall, too). A boat load of underclassmen return, including Ken Harrington and T.J. Kelley, which should more than make up for the graduation of Matt Palecki.

Danvers – Falcons graduate 6-foot-7 center George Merry, an ESPN Boston All-State selection, but return some terrific guards. Nick McKenna, Nick Bates, Eric Martin and Dan Connors can all shoot the ball, and are perfectly-suited for John Walsh’s four-out offensive system. My early pick to repeat at D3 champs.

BC High – Eagles return what ought to be one of the state’s best backcourts in point guard Charles Collins and ESPN Boston All-State swingman Jameilen Jones. Throw into the mix one of the region’s best basketball minds in Bill Loughnane (he of four state titles) and it’s hard to think of the Eagles as anything but a favorite in the South.

Springfield Central – A plethora of talent graduates, including Chris Prophet, Lee Turner, Jevaughn McMilian, and ESPN Boston Super Teamer Tyrell Springer. But All-State forward Kamari Robinson should have another terrific season, and the way Cornelius Tyson exploded onto the scene in the Division 1 state final makes us all wonder if he’s about to realize the potential that many in the Springfield area have been talking about for so long.

Stoughton – Super Teamer Aaron Calixte and Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Middleton formed the state’s best backcourt in 2011-12. If all goes as planned, they’ll be well-equipped to defend that notion next season.

Wareham – Vikings might not endure an unbeaten regular season again next year. But another year of All-State point guard Darien Fernandez means they’re not going anywhere.


Braintree – Wamps started three freshmen this year: Ashley Russell, Bridget Herlihy, and 6-foot-1 center Molly Reagan. Expect them in conversation for state title contention from now until their time runs out in 2015.

Archbishop Williams – Ditto the Bishops, who have two 6-foot freshmen to look forward to the next three seasons. Add in sophomores Olivia Conrad and Leah Spencer, and their fiery mouthpiece Sara Ryan, and this could be another top-five team come December 2012.

Reading – The Rockets made a flawless run through the Division 2 gauntlet, winning their first Division 2 state title in school history as one of two final unbeaten squads in Massachusetts. Two-time Middlesex MVP and ESPN Boston All-State Olivia Healy returns, as does guard Morgan O’Brien.

Andover – Golden Warriors are expected to come down to Earth with the graduation of two-time ESPN Boston Miss Basketball, Nicole Boudreau, and UConn lacrosse commit Ally Fazio. What might be overlooked amidst Andover’s unprecedented run to a third straight state title is that there were plenty of terrific complimentary backcourt pieces in the underclass.

Central Catholic – Raiders treaded water after some injuries early on. But once junior forward Casey McLaughlin was back to full strength, they made a run all the way to the Division 1 North semifinals. Have to imagine they’ll be in conversation again next year.

D3 South Girls: Fairhaven 62, Archies 59

March, 10, 2012
BOSTON –- Entering the fourth quarter trailing Archbishop Williams by two, Fairhaven put the game in the hands of senior captain Kara Charette, whose seven free throws helped the Blue Devils escape, 62-59 in the Division 3 South Sectional Finals at UMass-Boston's Clark Athletic Center.

“Everyone was getting frantic, so they threw me the ball, and they happened to foul me, so I just went to the line, and did what I had to do at the end,” said Charette, who finished with 24 points.

Fairhaven (22-2) began the fourth quarter on a 9-2 run, but Archies (20-6) rallied, as junior Sara Ryan connected on back-to-back triples with 10 seconds remaining before sophomore teammate Olivia Conrad fouled Charette immediately on the ensuing possession.

“I thought it was any other free throws,” Charette said of her final two free throws. “If I think ahead, it will mess me up. I just [had] to think its one free throw [at a time].”

Charette then sank shots from the stripe before Archbishop Williams’ Conrad attempted a last-second heave from beyond the arc, which didn’t reach the iron.

“[Charette] did what we thought she would do, and we couldn’t stop her,” Archbishop Williams head coach Jim Bancroft said. “We tried to double-down on her, but they played a great game today, we just weren’t there mentally all the way through.”

“Kara Charette’s not a surprise to anybody this late in her career, and no matter who we play,” said Fairhaven head coach Jeff Perry.

Both teams swapped leads throughout a majority of the first two frames, but it wasn’t until the third quarter when Fairhaven gained a little momentum with a three-pointer by senior Kayli Moniz, as well as a pair from Charette at the stripe, which provided the Blue Devils with a 34-30 advantage.

Although, the Blue Devils' lead was quickly erased, as the Bishops tallied 11 points and ended the third frame with a 41-39 lead before Fairhaven earned the lead for good from senior Kelsey Perron-Sovik’s jump shot.

“No matter who we play, I think what happens is [our opponent] underestimates the supporting cast. We have a lot of people that can finish and we can actually enjoy the double team at times because we’re working off of that,” said Perry.

“They played a solid game, they didn’t do anything wrong,” said Bancroft. “They rebounded well, they scored, they defended, and they were just better today.”

No Momentum for Archies: Despite a rather back and fourth three quarters, along with numerous lead changes, Bancroft didn’t believe his team gained any sort of momentum.

“I didn’t feel any momentum at all this game,” he said.

The Bishops ended the first half with a one-point advantage, as well as a two-point lead once the third quarter concluded. But missed shots, rebounds and turnovers hampered Archbishop Williams’ pursuit to preserve a lead.

Charette Appreciated the Physical Play: Both teams began the game recording numerous fouls and exhibiting physical play, but that didn’t seem to bother Charette, who claimed it somewhat helped her get in a groove and become more comfortable on the court.

“It’s great to be pushed around because I haven’t had that all season,” she said. “Getting pushed around is what it’s about, it’s the playoffs, and this is what’s supposed to happen.”

Even Perry agreed that the physical play somewhat helped his team, as well as get rid of the pre-game jitters out of the Blue Devils system, too.

“I think both teams were feeling each other out, nerves at this point, but I thought we fought through it,” added the head coach.

Next Stop -- TD Garden: Fairhaven will return to the hardwood on Tuesday when the Blue Devils face Pentucket in the MIAA Div. 3 State Semifinals, which certainly is something Charette is looking forward to playing in.

“It’s like a little redemption for Kara. She gave a couple speeches the last few weeks what it meant to the town, and what it mean to [her sister’s team four years ago],” said Coach Perry.

Charette seemed focused after Saturday’s game concluded, and explained that she’d like to finish this particular season with a championship for her sister’s team, which lost in the Div. III South semi-finals in 2008 to Cardinal Spellman.

“This is all about revenge for me, so this is awesome,” said Charette.

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.

Recap: No. 1 Andover 66, No. 7 Archies 52

December, 21, 2011

ANDOVER, Mass. — Apparently all it takes is one shot to wake a sleeping giant, and that sleeping giant was Andover’s Nicole Boudreau.

The senior sharpshooter awoke out of her shooting woes in the first 16 minutes with a corner three-pointer to begin the second half as she torched Archbishop Williams (4-1) for the next eight minutes in one of the better shooting performances of her career.

Boudreau finished with 19 of her game-high 28 points in the third quarter and drained four of her five three pointers in the period during a marvelous stretch over the final 2:30 to help the Golden Warriors (4-0) take out the Bishops, 66-52, at Dunn Gymnasium.

“That was special tonight,” said Andover head coach Jim Tildsley. “You saw something special. That roll that she got on was incredible. She’s a big-time player”

On three of her final four 3-pointers she touched nothing but net. On her second deep ball she stepped back and struck from NBA range. Her final trey came just before the buzzer as her barrage of scoring turned a six-point game into a 55-42 game at the half.

That lead was important, because it took the life out of a feisty Bishops’ squad that seemed to have an answer for every Golden Warriors run in the first half.

“We had a little bit of momentum after the third period,” said Boudreau. “They came back a little bit...But luckily we held them off.”

Overall it wasn’t a great shooting night for Boudreau as she finished 9-of-25 from the field for the game, but she was dead on with a 6-of-8 performance in the third quarter. The Boston College-bound Boudreau also finished with 10 rebounds, five steals and three blocks.

It’s scary to think that the leader of the two-time defending Division 1 state champions could get even better than what she has been already this season as she works her way back from an preseason ankle injury that limited the markswoman heading into the year.

“I’m still trying to work my way back into some rhythm and trying to get my shot back to where I’m making most of my shots,” said Boudreau. “It’s still a work in progress, but I’ll get there eventually.”

Unsung hero on the glass: Jackie Alois will never fill out the stat sheet in the scoring department on a night-in-night-out basis like her teammates, but that doesn’t mean she’s not a key cog in the Golden Warriors arsenal.

Against a much bigger Bishops front-line, the 5-foot-6 junior grabbed 11 offensive rebounds to help keep possessions alive for the bevy of outside shooters donning the same uniform as she.

Those efforts don’t go unnoticed by her head coach.

“She’s such a competitor,” said Tildsley. “She’s got a nose for the ball and she’s got great hands. It’s a pleasure to watch. People are in awe when they see her doing the things that she does on the court.”

In theory and on paper, the Bishops should have had a huge advantage on the glass with four players on the roster topping out around the 6-foot mark. The Bishops did own a 38-34 edge, but it seemed as if they lost the margin by 10 or 15 the way Alois and the other smaller Golden Warriors players were relentlessly diving after loose rebounds all night.

“We had the size over them and they played a great game,” said Bishops head coach Jim Bancroft. “We got dominated on the boards, which was pretty upsetting.”

Sticking around: The loss might sting for now, but the Bishops are going to be a force to be reckoned with this season and for many years to come.

Junior Sara Ryan showed a nice shooting touch from outside with a pair of 3-pointers, and she also showed an ability to get to the hoop to go along with a gritty defensive style. Olivia Conrad and Leah Spencer form a nice combination at the forward position and at 6-foot-3l, freshman Jaylen Williams should benefit from more seasoning as the year goes on.

Just ask the coach of the two-time defending champs.

“They got nine deep,” said Tildsley. “When (Bancroft) subs they don’t lose anything. They are young, they are tough and it’s great for us to play them. It’s an excellent basketball team and they are very well-coached.”

Coyle rallies to capture D3 South title

March, 12, 2011
BOSTON -- Missy Perry took a kick-out pass from her Coyle-Cassidy teammate Andreya Desousa, knocked down a three-pointer from the left wing and uppercut the air with both fists as the student section behind her erupted.

Then her Archbishop Williams defender threw away the ensuing inbounds pass, and Coyle's Tricia Quinn nailed a long two from the top of the key off a dish from Brenna Gonsalves. Two possessions later, Perry took a long outlet pass off DeSousa's board, stopped and pivoted underneath the rim and dished across the lane to Gonsalves for a 65-60 lead.

A few flicks of the wrist, and the momentum in this Division 3 South girls final at UMass-Boston's Clark Athletic Center capsized in a snap. The Warriors trailed Archie's 49-40 headed into the final frame, but with 14 points from the Adelphi-bound Gonsalves and eight big boards from Quinn, they rallied furiously to win going away, 70-63.

"I looked up, and all of a sudden it was a two-point game (trailing 60-58), you don't realize it because you're such in the flow of the game," smiled Coyle head coach Mike O'Brien. "That's just a lot of credit to them. They work hard. What we did, the little things we've talked about all year long -- making free throws, rebounding, boxing out -- the really simple stuff really played out for us. And we had a couple big shots, of course."

Indeed, this was about all the little things adding up. Sure, Gonsalves (32 points, six rebounds, three assists) was her usual all-everything self for the Warriors, going 5-for-7 from the field and 4 of 6 from the line in the final frame to lead the comeback -- "She's tough to stop," said Bishops head coach Jim Bancroft. But early on, they struggled with the brute strength of Archie's post players, particularly Alex Dean, Kayla Papazian, and 6-foot-1 freshman Olivia Conrad.

Combating the stout lower-body strength of the Bishops' forwards forced an economy of motion out of the 6-foot Quinn, a mentality that ultimately paid off in the final frame with eight boards. She finished with 14 rebounds to go along with 14 points.

"I really just focusing on paying attention to where my feet were on the floor, and making sure I was inside of them," Quinn said.

Gonsalves couldn't be happier for her teammates' mettle in the waning minutes.

"It was a matter of going out there and playing with heart, and just playing as hard as we possibly could," Gonsalves said. "I think everyone stepped up, so that's what got us the win. Everyone played with heart, everyone played their role perfectly."

The Warriors led by as much as 12 before the Bishops finished out the half on a 12-3 run to trail, 34-30. They continued the momentum in the third quarter, opening with a 12-0 run, to lead 49-40 headed into the final frame.

But the good fortune turned costly late in the third quarter, when Papazian drew blood from the top of her head after taking a foul off the rebound. The senior captain was relegated to the bench the rest of the game, barking out words of encouragement to her teammates.

"It was big for us," Bancroft said of losing Papazian who had eight boards. "She's our leader on the court, leader off the court, and she gives the kids encouragement. She gives them focus. She communicates. So that hurt us a lot."

Sophomore Sara Ryan led the Bishops with 18 points, while Conrad added 12.

No. 10 Spellman clips archrival No. 15 Archie's

January, 15, 2011
BROCKTON, Mass. -- Cardinal Spellman tallied 29 second half points and held Archbishop to 19 points during the final sixteen minutes of regulation, as the Cardinals salvaged the game and earned a 51-39 victory.

“We played our worst game of the year,” Archbishop Williams head coach Jim Bancroft said bluntly after his team’s loss. “We’re supposed to dribble, penetrate, dribble, drive, dribble and pass and cut. It was just a lack emotion, a lack intensity, we just didn’t play a very good game.”

“We’re relying on our defense right now, I mean team’s are having a lot of trouble scoring against us,” Spellman head coach Pat Lamb said.

The Cardinals (6-0) won the tip-off and jumped out to a very small marginal lead, but due to numerous amounts of turnovers, travels and fouls that were committed, they allowed the Bishops to score 12 points during the first quarter.

Archbishop Williams (4-2) struggled to score easy jump shots and layups, which forced their offense, primarily guard Sara Ryan, to take multiple three-point shots. Ryan shot the ball roughly 12 times beyond the arc and was only successful at converting two of her shots.

“We’d normally would not want a lot of three pointers (during any game we play),” Bancroft said.

The Bishops also struggled at defending the Cardinals senior center, Alexis Udoji, who finished the evening with 18 points and 5 blocked shots.

“Alexis is who she is, she makes a nit back on both ends of the floor. We can get into something constructively to get her the ball (but) teams got to make a decision to single team her. She’s probably going to score against most (of them). Double (or) triple team her and hopefully get other kids who can make shots and tonight we did,” said Lamb.

“I kind of was not myself at the beginning of the game, I had to like Pat get it into my head and get me kind of going. What he did like I said was pushed my buttons and kind of got me going, so basically what happened,” said Udoji.

Following a back-and-forth first half, the Cardinals came out roaring in the second half, as senior guard Christina Deiorio scored 13 second half points, while Udoji recorded 10 points. The Cardinals defense also ramped up their pressure and forced the Bishops to continue to turn the ball over, which wasn’t something that pleased Bancroft.

“We can’t turn the ball over that much. (We’ve) got to get back to our offense and just more intensity,” said Bancroft.

The Bishops offense attempted a late rally in the fourth quarter, despite trailing by 18 points during the final 2 minutes, but was unsuccessful. Freshman center Olivia Conrad led her squad with 9 points, Sara Ryan finished with 8 points and Christine Chase recorded 7 points.