Boston High School: Paul Bessette

Recap: No. 20 West Side 52, Cathedral 42

January, 10, 2013
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- No. 20 West Springfield survived a test Thursday night, as the Terriers used a 19-6 fourth quarter -– in which they held host team, Springfield Cathedral to two field goals –- to come away with a 52-42 victory at American International College.

West Side (8-0) and Cathedral (6-2), two of the better defensive teams in Western Mass., showed it through the first three quarters with the Panthers nursing a 36-33 lead.

The Terriers opened the fourth quarter with the only offensive burst of the evening. Senior forward Chris Lipscomb started the run with an offensive put back, before junior guard Paul Bessette became the catalyst for the undefeated West Side. The 5-foot-8 guard pulled a euro step around a defender in transition to give West Side a 37-36 lead and followed that with a fast break 3-pointer, headlining the 7-0 run.

“That spurt there, we hadn’t led by more than one or two all game,” said West Side head coach Chris Gerber. “Not until he (Bessette) stopped on a dime and hit that three that gave us a four-point lead. And that was the first spot of separation the entire game.”

In only his second game of the season, Bessette had a pair of consecutive drives that resulted in big Terrier baskets. The West Side point guard drove to the lane, only to dump off to Lipscomb for the two. Following a Cathedral three to make it a two-possession game with 1:44 to play, Bessette again found himself in the lane, finding fellow junior Andy McNulty in the corner for the 3-pointer to give West Side a 49-40 lead, securing an eight straight win to open the season.

“It was a defensive battle” said Bessette. “When plays needed to be made we had to make them.”

The Terriers defense helped give them the lead at the end of the half, but more importantly stepped up big in the fourth quarter. West Side outscored Cathedral 19-6, only giving up a 3-pointer, free throw, and a layup at the buzzer.

“We did what we do a little bit better,” said Gerber. “We didn’t change anything, we just played better defense in the fourth quarter better than we did the first three.”

Cathedral had a 10-3 run in the third to give them a 36-33 lead heading into the fourth.

Lipscomb had a game-high 16 points and six rebounds, while Bessette added 15 points and five assists. Cathedral was led by senior guard Devon Murphy-Stanley’s 15 points and five rebounds. Lou Garcia chipped in 12.

First of three tests: The month of January is unkind to West Springfield. The Terriers hit a grind next week, playing three games in five days, ending with a matchup against defending state champion, Springfield Central, as part of Day 2 of the 2013 Spalding Hoophall Classic. A week later the Terriers play at Springfield Putnam in the first of two games this season.
Thursday night, against a good Cathedral team, West Side answered its first test of the season.

“This was probably our biggest test,” said Lipscomb. “We’ve played good teams in the past and we were able to pull it out. We didn’t play our best but we made plays in the end.”

West Side had to handle two of the better guard in Western Mass. in Garcia and sophomore Darrick Boyd. The 5-foot-9 Boyd, who entered the game averaging over 20 points per game, was held to only five points, as the Terriers stopped the Panthers pick-and-roll play.

“It was a battle, there are two very good players and we pulled out a win against a scrappy Cathedral team,” McNulty said.

West Side doesn’t offer much size, which could pose as a problem especially against Putnam, and Chris Baldwin and Kamari Robinson of Central.

“We just need to box out and play as hard as possible,” said senior wing Riyadh Asad. “We don’t care about our size. We play with anyone.”

Bessette puts West Side at full strength: Bessette was out for West Side’s first six games, but with the junior point guard back in the lineup, it makes West Side a deeper team. Bessette adds another shooter to a team filled with shooters and gives Gerber another ball handler to rely on.

McNulty carried most of the point guard load this season and now can stay on the perimeter to shoot and become more of a scoring option.

“It’s always good to have another ball handler and getting him back in the lineup and freeing me up for some shots,” said McNulty.

It also gives more defensive pressure to a West Side team that is very aggressive team defense.

Shooting woes on both sides: Aside from being strong defensive teams, both teams rely on 3-point shooting due to the talent in the backcourt. However, Thursday night was not a good night shooting by either team.

West Side was 5-of-19 from behind the arc, while Cathedral went 4-of-20 from deep. Boyd, who has battled injuries recently, got some good looks but could not find his stroke from three, only connecting on one. Murphy-Stanley had a trio of three’s in the loss.
The Terriers were better in the second half with a 3-of-8 shooting from behind the arc, including big ones from Bessette and McNulty to take the lead and ice the game.

“We didn’t take quality looks. We were taking quick ones, rushed ones,” said Gerber. “We didn’t get good looks for each.”

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.