Boston High School: Paul DiGeronimo

Recap: Charlestown 55, No. 25 Fitchburg 52

January, 28, 2012
1/28/12
10:25
PM ET




FITCHBURG, Mass. -- Unsatisfied with the way his team was playing man-to-man defense, Charlestown head coach Edson Cardoso did something very un-Charlestown-like. At 2 p.m. yesterday during practice, he installed a Syracuse-style 2-3 zone.

And with a much anticipated rematch with archrival East Boston on tap for Tuesday, the switch -- coupled with the return of two key players -- might be just what the skidding Townies needed to snap out of their funk. After trailing by a slim margin through three quarters, the Townies broke through in the fourth, and held on for a crucial 55-52 win over Fitchburg, this afternoon at the Doug Grutchfield Field House.

"I said, you know what, I've never played zone before in my life, but tomorrow against Fitchburg we're going to try it," Cardoso said of yesterday's practice. "We just feel like the 2-3 zone makes us a better rebounding team, we weren't getting too many offensive boards, and tonight I think might be the first time we've outrebounded a team."

Said junior swingman Tyrese Hoxter (23 points) of the switch, "We're real long, so we knew it work to help us get out in transition."

Hoxter catapulted the Townies (9-3) in the fourth quarter with some impressive play around the rim. The 6-foot-3 slasher didn't miss in the final frame, going 5-for-5 from the field and hitting both of his free throw attempts -- both converting three-point plays -- to total 12 points and give Charlestown enough cushion to hold off an inspired Fitchburg rally in the final minute.

First, Hoxter took a deep outlet pass from Omar Orriols (20 points) for an easy layup and 48-42 advantage with under two minutes to go. Fitchburg's Mick Snowden (12 points) returned the favor on the ensuing Red Raiders (9-4) trip down the floor, hitting a three from the left wing. But Hoxter answered again, picking the pocket of Quinton Perkins (12 points, seven rebounds, four assists) and slipping in a soft breakaway layup.

The next trip down, Hoxter threw a dagger. Gathering himself behind the right elbow, he took his defender to his right, took off from the right block, and delivered a reverse windmill layup through two bodies, picking up a foul in the process. He hit the free throw to make it 53-46 with 50 seconds to go.

"The dude [his man] kind of ran with his hands down at me," Hoxter explained. "So I kind of just went after him. As I was getting into the lane, the guy that was sticking Tyrik (Jackson) had his back to me. So I knew he was going to see me, and once he saw me I went up on the left side."

Hoxter got one more basket, a cherry-pick off an intercepted entry pass by Taris Wilson, before Chuck Doss (10 points) cut the lead to 55-52 with 4.9 seconds left on a three. The Townies threw the ball away from contact on the inbounds to ice the win.

Abi Akanni also chipped in with nine points and nine rebounds for the Red Raiders, who have now dropped two straight.

Stars return: It was a first return to action for two of the Townies' stars, Orriols and Rony Fernandez, in several weeks. Orriols was suspended from the team for two weeks, while Fernandez had missed the previous month for personal reasons.

Fernandez finished with eight points and a few assists, but Orriols' play was especially encouraging. He was 3-for-4 from three-point range in the third quarter, and in the fourth quarter he came down with several long rebounds and steals that opened up transition play, where the Townies excel the best.

"Now you get to see how we play Charlestown basketball," Cardoso said. "The young guys did a great job stepping up, but our veteran guys are gonna take us where we need to go. Our younger guys are gonna step up when they have to, but it just feels better having Rony at the point to get us under control."

Said Hoxter, "It opens up the court for me. Two shooters, I can pass to my left or to my right, or if it's open I can just attack the hole."

Playing through pain: Cardoso applauded the efforts of Hoxter, who is playing through a sprained right wrist and was estimated to be at roughly "70 percent" health.

"We hope he's 100 percent by the time we play East Boston," Cardoso said. "But he's giving us what he can. He gives us a problem on the matchup zone, because he's so long and athletic. He did a great job for us."

Building Momentum: One of the reasons we like Fitchburg's chances come playoff time is how their aggressive non-conference scheduling conditions them for the month of February. Headed into next week, the Red Raiders sit at 5-0 in the Mid-Wach A, with losses to Charlestown (today), LaSalle (R.I.) (Dec.29), BC High (Jan. 7) and a surging St. John's of Shrewsbury squad last Wednesday that has suddenly won eight of their last nine after starting the year 3-4.

Closing out games has been a problem at times this year for the Raiders -- they led 40-39 after three quarters, and 27-22 at the half. But head coach Paul DiGeronimo was encouraged by the effort in the loss, and how it will affect them going forward.

"We're only going to benefit from this game today," DiGeronimo said. "We've played better than we played on Wednesday. So, if we can play better in a loss, than we're headed in the right direction. We wanted to win, but I felt better coming out of this one than I felt on Wednesday against St. John's.

Mid-season Boys Hoop Superlatives

January, 17, 2012
1/17/12
2:57
PM ET
With many teams across the state reaching the midway point of their schedule this week, here are my mid-season picks for our annual MIAA All-State, All-Defensive, and Coach of the Year awards.

THE SUPER TEAM
G – Aaron Calixte, Jr., Stoughton
G – Steve Haladyna, Sr., St. John’s Prep
G – Tyrese Hoxter, Jr., Charlestown
F – Jake Layman, Sr., King Philip
F – Isshiah Coleman, Jr., New Mission

BEST OF THE REST
Yadoris Arias, Sr. G, Lawrence
Tyler Delorey, Sr. G, Holy Name
Matt Droney, Sr. G/F, Catholic Memorial
Joey Glynn, Sr. F, Cardinal Spellman
Leroy Hamilton, Sr. F, New Mission
Jameilen Jones, Jr. G, BC High
Kevin LaFrancis, Sr. C, Acton-Boxborough
Alex Lopez, Sr. G, Springfield Commerce
Damian Lugay, Sr. G, Weymouth
George Merry, Sr. C, Danvers
Marcus Middleton, Jr. G, Stoughton
Matt Mobley, Sr. G/F, St. Peter-Marian
Brian Mukasa, Soph. G, Sharon
Tyler Nelson, Soph. G, Central Catholic
Quinton Perkins, Sr. G, Fitchburg
Luis Puello, Sr. G, Central Catholic
Colin Richey, Jr. G, Whitinsville Christian
Kamari Robinson, Jr. F, Springfield Central
Tyrell Springer, Sr. G, Springfield Central
Michael Thorpe, Sr. G, Newton North

ALL-DEFENSIVE
G – Luis Puello, Sr., Central Catholic
G – Anthony Hodges, Sr., Holy Name
F – Jake Layman, Sr., King Philip
F – Antonio Ferreira, Sr., Stoughton
C – George Merry, Sr., Danvers

COACH OF THE YEAR FINALISTS
Scott Boyle, Lowell
Hugh Coleman, Brighton
Paul Connolly, Newton North
Paul DiGeronimo, Fitchburg
John Gallivan, Stoughton
Paul Neal, Lawrence
Brendan Smith, Boston Latin
Malcolm Smith, East Boston
Mike Vaughan, Mansfield
John Walsh, Danvers

Recap: No. 9 BC High 61, No. 20 Fitchburg 52

January, 7, 2012
1/07/12
10:28
PM ET




DORCHESTER, Mass. -- Standing toe to toe with No. 9 BC High basketball, No. 20 Fitchburg tied the game up at 49 with 3:35 to go.

However, in the dwindling minutes of the game, the Eagles were able to tag on another 12 points, sending the Red Raiders away with a long ride home and a 61-52 loss, despite Quinton Perkins' 14 points Saturday afternoon.

“I told the guys you’ve got to respond,” said BC High coach Bill Loughnane, referring to the Red Raiders' late run.

With the score tied, 39-39 going into the fourth quarter, Loughnane's message was clear and direct: “We’ve got to win the next eight minutes.”

BC opened up the lead to six at 47-41 in the fourth, but by the 3:35 mark, Fitchburg had knotted the game up again at 49. A spate of field goals and free throws from Fitchburg’s Abi Akanni (20 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, block) propelled the Red Raiders back into the hunt for an upset. But lack of offensive production from therein, coupled with BC’s Charles Collins (21 points, six steals) and Oderah Obukwelu (12) dropping buckets for the Eagles, stymied any chances of that happening.

13-1 Run – Both Coaches Worried?
The game began with BC High playing steal, rebound and shoot, amounting to an early 13-1 lead over Fitchburg. It’s clear why Fitchburg head coach Paul DiGeronimo was concerned about his team.

But with his team up 13-1, what could Loughnane have been thinking about?

“We were worried. We didn’t want them to get happy with themselves because we’ve seen Fitchburg, we know how good they are and we knew there were going to be a couple of runs coming at us.”

DiGeronimo hoped for the same thing, and got it.

“We came out like… they weren’t taught anything, like they weren’t prepared but they were well prepared for this.”

After a couple of timeouts, the Red Raiders closed out the quarter on a 7-2 run, allaying DiGeronimo’s fears some and making Loughnane’s prediction come true. All else aside, DiGeronimo was not disappointed in his team. With BC High a ranked team, DiGeronimo thinks that his guys may have been intimidated in the beginning of the game, accounting for BC High’s 13-1 opening run. “What started out as a bleak day turned into a tremendous effort to get us back into the game… Once they got over the shell shock, start talking on defense a lot more, stay aggressive, stay confident, nothing that they’re not told all of the time.”

Stamina
Although the Eagles nearly doubled up Wachusett (50-29) on Thursday, they also defeated St. John’s Prep 53-47 on Tuesday night. A busy week for the Eagles, and playing on a Saturday afternoon, attributed to their play late in the game according to Loughnane.

“That was our third game in five days against three quality opponents. They dug down and they took care of business... Our legs were a little spent but they did a nice job of digging down and getting it.”

ESPNBoston's MIAA All-State Boys Basketball Team

March, 25, 2011
3/25/11
5:09
PM ET
STARTING FIVE

Guard – Samir McDaniels, Sr., New Mission
The 6-foot-3 McDaniels was the steady hand that rocked the Titans' Division 2 state championship season. He averaged 18.8 points, 12.7 rebounds and 3.1 steals as the Titans became the first team in MIAA history to win the Division 4 and Division 2 titles in back to back seasons. McDaniels recently committed to the University of New Haven for next fall.

Guard – Pat Connaughton, Sr., St. John’s Prep
The Notre Dame-bound Connaughton, currently ranked No. 96 in the ESPNU 100, once again saved his best performances for the postseason as the Eagles won the Division 1 state championship for the first time in school history. Connaughton averaged 21.8 points, 17 rebounds and 6.5 assists and took home the Massachusetts Gatorade Player of the Year award. Connaughton, who will play both baseball and basketball for the Fighting Irish next year, is ranked No. 77 in Baseball America's list of Top 100 high school prospects.

Forward – Richard Rodgers, Sr., St. John’s (Shrewsbury)
Considered one of the best athletes to come out of Central Mass in the last two decades, the 6-foot-5, 235-pound Rodgers was a monster in all facets of the game as the Pioneers made their fourth straight appearance in the Division 1 state final. The senior, who will continue his football career next fall at Cal as a tight end, averaged 17.8 points, 10.8 rebounds, 4.5 blocks, 4.1 steals and 3.4 assists in his final season in Shrewsbury. He is also the son of Holy Cross defensive coordinator and former Cal great Richard Rodgers, and the cousin of Buffalo Bills cornerback Jairus Byrd.

Forward – Jake Layman, Jr., King Philip
The 6-foot-7 Layman lived up to his potential high-major billing in his junior season with the Warriors, helping them end a 15-year postseason drought and set a school single-season record for wins (17) before bowing out in the Division 2 South finals. Layman averaged 24.6 points, 13.6 rebounds, 4.6 blocks, 3.1 steals and 2.3 assists; he also took home Hockomock League MVP honors. Layman's 1,196 points at KP are the most by any boy in school history. He currently holds offers from UMass, Providence, Boston College, Notre Dame, Texas A&M and Brigham Young.

Center – Jimmy Zenevitch, Sr., Central Catholic
A force in the middle the last three seasons for the Raiders, the 6-foot-7 Zenevitch lived up to the hype headed into his senior season. He closed out his career with a strong finish, averaging 19 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and two blocks, and stretched many a defense with his ability to post up and shoot from long distance. He earned Merrimack Valley Conference All-Star nods, and his Raiders went 39-1 in MVC play the last two seasons. Zenevitch, whose older sister Kate is a freshman forward for Boston College, will continue his career next fall at Division 2 Assumption College.

BEST OF THE REST

Jaylen Alicea, Sr., Lawrence
Few had as explosive a postseason as the 5-foot-8 Alicea, who averaged 30.4 points in five playoff games as the Lancers became the first No. 15 seed since 1998 to advance to the Division 1 North final. The run included a 35-point effort in a shocking first round upset of No. 2 seed Cambridge, followed up the next game with 38 on Westford. For the season, Alicea averaged 19.3 points, four assists and three steals and earned a Merrimack Valley Conference All-Star nod.

Travonne Berry-Rogers, Sr., Lynn English
The 6-foot-1 Berry-Rogers made a name for himself as one of the North Shore's best finishers in his senior campaign, which ended in a D1 North semifinal loss to Lawrence but with some Northeastern Conference recognition. The senior, who was also an NEC All-Star in football, averaged 23.5 points, five assists and five rebounds to lead the 21-3 Bulldogs. He plans on pursuing basketball at the next level, and is considering several Division 2 and Division 3 colleges.

Joe Bramanti, Sr., Andover
The 6-foot-2 Bramanti was the Golden Warriors' prized horse in 2010-11, and they rode him to a 15-5 record and an appearance in the Division 1 North tournament. Bramanti averaged 22.3 points, six rebounds and four assists in his senior season, in which he took the Merrimack Valley Conference's MVP honors by an almost unanimous decision. Bramanti is currently looking into pursuing a post-graduate season at a prep school.

Grant Cooper, Sr., Northampton
Cooper, a 6-foot-3 forward, played an instrumental role in the Blue Devils' Division 1 Western Mass championship season, and established himself as one of the premier forwards in the western part of the state. He finished his career at Hamp on a high note, averaging 11 points, 12 rebounds, 4.5 assists this season while also posting a field goal percentage of .550.

Marco Coppola, Sr., Watertown
The 6-foot-1 Coppola was instrumental to the Raiders' run to their third Division 3 state title game in six seasons, and also pitched in tremendously on the defensive end -- before losing to Whitinsville Christian in the state championship, they held their previous four opponents in the 30's. Coppola was Eastern Mass' leading scorer, averaging 25.1 points per game, and finishes fourth all-time on the school's scoring list, behind his older brother Anthony, Max Kerman and Kyle Stockmal. Coppola is currently undecided on college plans, but is leaning heavily towards Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Mark Cornelius, Sr., Westford
The 6-foot-2 Cornelius was a scoring machine this season for the Grey Ghosts, winning the Dual County League scoring title with an average of 21.1 points per game, and was co-MVP of the league. He saved arguably his best performance for last, getting 33 points and 23 rebounds in a loss to Lawrence in a Division 1 North quarterfinal. Also a standout wide receiver for the football team, Cornelius is undecided on college plans.

Alex Gartska, Sr., Westfield
One of the state's sharpest shooters, the 6-foot-1 guard averaged 19.7 points, three rebounds and two assists per game as the Bombers marched to a 20-3 record and an appearance in the Division 1 Western Mass final against Northampton. Gartska, who was recently named the MassLive/Basketball Hall of Fame's inaugural Western Mass Player of the Year, finished his career at Westfield with 1,172 career points. He is currently undecided on college plans.

Steve Haladyna, Jr., St. John’s Prep
The 6-foot-3 junior was the Pippen to Pat Connaughton's Jordan on this year's squad, but that proved to be a pivotal role in the Eagles' first basketball state championship season. In 2010-11, he averaged 19.7 points and seven rebounds as the Eagles battled through the toughest Division 1 North bracket in recent memory.

John Henault, Sr., St. Bernard’s
The Bernardians ended their season on a sour note with a shocking upset by Oxford in the Division 2 Central tournament, but the 6-foot-2 Henault ends his career on Harvard Street on a positively high one. He leaves St. B's as the school's all-time leading scorer (1,682 points) and led the state in scoring average (27.8 points) this season. He also racked up over 600 rebounds, 200 assists and 170 steals in his four-year career with the Bernardians. Henault is currently considering several Division 2 and 3 colleges.

Mike Lofton, Sr., Mansfield
With such a unique skill set, the 6-foot-4 senior played anywhere from point guard to power forward this year for the Hockomock League champions, and excelled in every role. Lofton averaged 13.5 points, 11 rebounds. 4.5 assists and 2.7 steals this season for the 24-3 Hornets, who won a wide-open Division 1 South before falling to eventual state champ St. John's Prep on the TD Garden floor. Lofton is currently considering several Division 2 and 3 schools.

Akosa Maduegbunam, Jr., Charlestown
In 25 games this season for the Townies, the 6-foot-4 slasher averaged 22 points, eight rebounds, three assists and two steals as they captured their first Boston City title since 2006. in his two seasons at Charlestown, he has averaged 20.5 points, seven rebounds and three assists. A two-time City all-star, Maduegbunam was also named the City tournament's Most Valuable Player.

Hans Miersma, Sr., Whitinsville Christian
Few teams in the state could match up with the Crusaders' size this season, and none was more pivotal than the 6-foot-9 Miersma. He averaged 14.3 points, 8.9 rebounds and 3.7 blocks as the Crusaders captured their first Division 3 state title since 2005. The first team All-Dual Valley Conference center will continue his playing career next fall at Gordon College.

Joe Mussachia, Sr., Manchester-Essex
The 6-foot-6, Amherst College-bound forward excelled in a multitude of roles for the Hornets, who won the Cape Ann League and advanced all the way to the Division 4 North semifinals. Mussachia averaged 25.2 points, 17 rebounds, five assists, four steals and three blocks, and finishes as the school's all-time leading scorer (1,714 points). For his career at M-E, he averaged 20.9 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and three blocks.

Jarrod Neumann, Jr., Northampton
The 6-foot-3 guard/forward helped to form Western Mass's most intimidating, swarming defenses, as the Blue Devils marched all the way to a 21-3 record and the Division 1 Central/West Final, where they lost to state runner-up St. John's of Shrewsbury. For the season, Neumann averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds. Barring the unexpected, Neumann should return next fall as one of the MIAA's top 2012 prospects.

Kachi Nzerem, Sr., New Mission
As one part of the Titans' three-headed monster of a backcourt, the 6-foot-5 Nzerem was a physical force around the rim. He averaged 17.1 points and 6.1 rebounds as the Titans became the first MIAA squad in history to win the Division 4 and Division 2 titles in back to back seasons. Nzerem is considering pursuing a post-graduate season at several prep schools.

Keandre Stanton, Jr., Lynn English
It was quite the breakout season for the 6-foot-6 Stanton, a Northeastern Conference All-Star who turned in a monster junior campaign to establish himself as one of the state's best pure athletes on the blocks. He averaged 19.5 points, 12 rebounds, six blocks and achieved 10 triple-doubles on the season for the 21-3 Bulldogs, who advanced all the way to the D1 North semifinals before bowing out to Lawrence.

Jacquil Taylor, Soph., Cambridge
At 6-foot-8, the sophomore was one of the state's most imposing forces in the paint. He has started every game in his two years on the Falcons' varsity, and has only blossomed under head coach Lance Dottin; after averaging nearly a double-double as a freshman (nine points, 10 rebounds), he turned in an even more impressive sophomore season, with 13.5 points, 11.4 rebounds and 4.8 blocks as the Falcons won the Greater Boston League outright for the second year in a row. He has already amassed 166 blocks in his young career (including over 100 this year), and is a two-time GBL All-Star.

Noah Vonleh, Soph., Haverhill
Ranked the No. 23 overall player nationally in the Class of 2013 by ESPN, the 6-foot-7 Vonleh came into the season with a load of hype, and lived up to it in spite of the Hillies' struggles to a 7-13 record this season. Vonleh averaged 18.4 points, 17 rebounds, seven assists and five blocks and earned Merrimack Valley Conference All-Star recognition. Kansas, Pitt and Boston College are among the early offers for Vonleh, but expect that list to get quite lengthy over the next six months.

COACH OF THE YEAR: SEAN CONNOLLY, ST. JOHN'S PREP
Yes, one of the North Shore's all-time schoolboy greats has had one of New England's top senior talents to work with the last three seasons. But this season, which culminated in the program's first state championship, was all about the role players. And between Steve Haladyna, Freddy Shove, Isaiah Robinson, Mike Carbone and Owen Marchetti, this season was about a different player stepping up every night to ease the load off superstar Pat Connaughton. For that, and to survive one of the most loaded Division 1 North brackets in recent history, Connolly deserves some credit.

RUNNERS-UP:
1. Paul Neal, Lawrence
2. Cory McCarthy, New Mission

FINALISTS:
Bill Daley, Westfield
Paul DiGeronimo, Fitchburg
Rey Harp, Northampton
Rick Kilpatrick, Acton-Boxborough
Sean McInnis, King Philip
Duane Sigsbury, Manchester-Essex
Malcolm Smith, East Boston

ALL-DEFENSIVE
G – Joe Bramanti, Sr., Andover
G – Luis Puello, Jr., Central Catholic
G – Akosa Maduegbunam, Jr., Charlestown
F/C – Jacquil Taylor, Soph., Cambridge
C – John Swords, Sr., Lincoln-Sudbury

ALL-SHOOTERS
Pat Connaughton, Sr., St. John's Prep
Marco Coppola, Sr., Watertown
Alex Gartska, Sr., Westfield
John Henault, Sr., St. Bernard's
Jake Laga, Sr., Northampton

ALL-FRESHMAN
G – Jonathan Joseph, Brockton
G – Tyler Nelson, Central Catholic
G – Damion Smith, West Roxbury
F – Drew Shea, Medfield
F – Aaron Falzon, Newton North

BEST FANS
1. Northampton
2. St. John's (Shrewsbury)
3. Newton North
4. Central Catholic
5. St. John's Prep

(NOTE: Some headshots were provided by ESPN's Adam Finkelstein, courtesy of his New England Recruiting Report)

SPONSORED HEADLINES