Boston High School: Phil Rogers

Good Sports: Lynn Classical 55, Malden 51

January, 25, 2014
Jan 25
BOSTON -- With 35 seconds left in the game Saturday and his team down by six, Malden’s Bryan Mitchell drove into the lane in transition, put the ball behind his back, and without traveling, finger-rolled the ball into the hoop for two points.

Twenty seconds later, he hit another runner in the lane to cut the deficit down to two. After a timeout, the team was forced to foul Lynn Classical’s Phil Rogers. The senior guard hit both ends of a one-and-one to put an end to any potential Malden comeback.

Classical defeated Malden 55-51 at the Good Sports Invitational at the TD Garden.

“The kids, for three periods, were excited about being on the court and it takes a while to finally settle down and not be in awe playing in the same place that many of the great Celtics players have played on,” said Lynn Classical (7-5) coach Tom Grassa.

For the first three quarters, the energy in the building and on the floor was lacking, and the score showed that. Malden (6-4) held a 37-35 lead going into the final frame, but both teams came out with a renewed energy once they realized the last period was going to decide the outcome of the game.

Malden’s Anthony Gilardi was particularly active in the game, finishing with 11 points and 18 rebounds. On the other end of the floor, Classical’s Rogers was named the player of the game with 24 points and five rebounds. Knocking down the two free throws at the end of the game was no sweat for him.

“I wasn’t nervous, we just came to have fun,” Rogers said after the game. “A few guys were probably nervous because of the big arena, and lots of people watching on the Celtics’ court, but I wasn’t.”

Players seemed to struggle with the depth perception that comes with shooting on a clear, see-through backboard in a big arena. Some would overshoot the basket entirely, while others would send line drive shots off the back of the rim, and a few even air-balled the net trying to adjust for the differences from their home courts.

“We told the guys that this is probably the first time guys wouldn’t be shooting at a basket that doesn’t have a big pipe coming down from the ceiling and the depth of field is so different because the ceiling is so high,” said Grassa. “It makes it difficult even on the terrific outside shooters.”

“We came here back-to-back in ’93 and ’94 and we had guys who were seniors that had made 200 three-pointers, outstanding shooters, and they all shot airballs,” he added. “I believe two years in a row we didn’t make one three.”

In a rut: For the first six minutes of the second quarter, Lynn Classical did not score a basket. It only scored six points in the entire second frame.

“I don’t want to accuse guys of taking bad shots, I just think we missed decent, easy looks,” said Grassa. “At halftime I pointed at four different individuals and said, ‘You know, that’s a shot you normally make nine times out of 10.’ Four footers, six footers, we missed an awful lot of those. One of our specialties it the air ball on the two-foot floater. I said to the guys that I think we’re 1-for-1,000 this year.”

To start the quarter, Classical was up 18-10 but after the scoring drought, Malden was able to crawl back and take the lead. The two teams went into halftime tied at 24.

“We realized in the first half they got 16 offensive rebounds,” said Nally. “We emphasized at halftime that was something we had to get better at. We emphasized getting a body on people and not just trying to out jump everybody.”

Malden was in an out of its 2-3 zone the whole game, but it did not seem to give Classical any trouble. It moved the ball effectively around the perimeter and found its share of open shots.

“We like to go 2-2-1 back to 2-3, it’s kind of what we do best,” Nally said. “Obviously we went through some man today because I think just playing out here you have to show some man. But I like our 2-3, I think we’re better with it.”

Mitchell regains his footing: Mitchell’s late-game heroics were impressive because earlier in the quarter, he injured his ankle hustling for a rebound. After hobbling off the court in visible pain and being tended to by team trainers, the senior returned to the game and had arguably his most effective quarter of basketball after his injury.

“It’s a little sore,” he said. “I did it for the team. I just kept playing. Playing in this environment, you kind of forget about it, so I just tried to put it aside and play for the team and try to get the win.”

He finished with 16 points, five rebounds, and three steals.

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."