Boston High School: Rich Lopez

Recap: No. 13 Catholic Memorial 87, St. Raphael (R.I.) 46

December, 23, 2012
HOLYOKE, Mass. -- Catholic Memorial used a series of runs throughout Sunday’s game to take control against St. Raphael (R.I.) and put it out of reach, en route to an 87-46 victory in Day 4 at the BasketBull Hoops Fest at Holyoke Community College.

The most important run of the game happened at the start of the second half with the No. 13 CM(4-0) leading 42-25. The Knights forced three St. Raphael (4-1) turnovers, including back-to-back steals and finishes by senior guard Pat Hurley, to spark an 11-0 run, taking a commanding 56-25 lead.

“St. Raphael is a good team and I know they were capable of making three’s in bunches,” CM head coach Denis Tobin said. “We stressed at the half that we wanted to extend it and put them away, so if they did hit a couple of three’s we would have enough of a cushion.”

Tobin was right about the Saints, they could get hot from behind the arc and they did. Following the run, St. Raphael connected on three consecutive 3-pointers – from Graham Lynch, John Conney, and Charles Correa – to cut the lead to 56-34. The Saints shot 9 of 24 from deep on Sunday.

“At that point, by the 11-0 start, we were OK,” Tobin said.

That was the only run the Saints would get on the day. The Knights controlled the glass, outrebounding the Saints 25-16, while forcing 16 turnovers in the game.

“The energy off the bench really helped us,” sophomore guard Gullien Smith said. “Our defense really picked up, we closed out on the shooter really well.”

Catholic Memorial started the game with a 7-0 run led by the senior backcourt of Hurley and D.J. McClure. Against the zone defense to start the game Hurley found McClure for a 3-pointer from the wing to start the game. Hurley would make a pair of free throws and a layup, before hitting McClure on a fast break lay-in, forcing St. Raphael (4-1) to call a timeout.

The Knights built a double-digit lead with a 6-0 run late in the first quarter to take a 10-point advantage into the second quarter. With the Saints threatening to cut the lead to single-digits heading into halftime, the Knights put together another 7-0 run to close out the half leading by 17.

“It’s a big court up here,” Tobin said. “The whole plan was to run bodies at them. Pressure them both defensively and then make them run back in transition and hopefully wear them down.”

Smith led CM with 16 points, four assists and three rebounds. Hurley was solid all-around with 12 points, four assists, four steals, and two rebounds, while Gerard Adams chipped in 12 points as well, to go along with nine rebounds.

St. Raphael was led by an injured Correa, who had 13 points, five assists, and three steals. Conney led the Saints in scoring with 16 points, including four 3-pointers.

“We caught a break with Charles [Correa] playing with one hand; his weak hand,” Tobin said. “But we’ll take it. I think it’s the best we’ve played this season.”

Correa, one of the top players in Rhode Island, was held to just 13 points. It seems like a good defensive performance on paper, keeping a dynamic scorer like that in check. However, Correa was playing with an injured right hand – his shooting hand – forcing him to play the entire game with basically one hand.

“I still have a good left hand,” Correa said. “I couldn’t let my team down. If we were going to lose, we were going to lose together.”

After the game Correa said he had never shot left-handed before. He mentioned a game back in 2005 when then Indiana Pacer Jermaine O’Neal hurt his elbow on a foul from Denver Nuggets center Francisco Elson. O’Neal went to the line and was forced to shoot his free throws left handed.

“He’s just an unbelievable athlete. He hurt it the other night in the game,” St. Raphael head coach Thomas Sorrentine said. “He could really only go left, so we set him up to go left. He gave us everything he had out there. Obviously he wasn’t 100 percent.”

Correa was still able to be effective. He was second on the team in scoring with 13 points, he had five assists and came away with three steals in 26 minutes of action. With just his left hand he was still tough to guard, finding his way into the lane.

In the second quarter he knocked down back-to-back left-handed 3-pointers – he had three on the day – to go along with two other lefty layups in the second half.

“That’s very courageous of him. A non-league day, out of state, it’s very impressive,” Tobin added. “Left-handed, he’s still very, very good.”

Correa injured his right hand two days earlier in a win against Mount Pleasant. The right hand was completely wrapped and as he iced it after the game, the area around his pinky was still swollen. Sorrentine said they will have the an X-ray of Correa’s hand soon.

“I couldn’t handle the ball with my right hand,” said Correa. “I had to keep going back to my left.”

This year is different for Tobin. He doesn’t have a consistent scorer every night, but he does have multiple players he can rely on game in and game out.

“We’re not like past teams, where we’ve had big go-to guys,” he said. “On any given night we have four or five guys capable of scoring 12-15 points.

“I’m very impressed with our unselfishness as well. Everybody’s willing to share the ball. We’ve all bought into the team concept.”

In Sunday’s win, six players scored eight or more points, 10 players came away with at least one rebound and seven players recorded two or more assists. The team was also solid defensive team in both the full court pressure and well as in the half court set.

The five starters –Hurley, McClure, Smith, Adams, and John McDonough – all contributed in different areas, while Kevin Claflin and Rich Lopez provided a lift off the bench.

“No one is selfish on this team,” Smith said. “No one is trying to go out and score 20, we just want to win.”

The undefeated Knights have a few days off before heading to Newton as part of a Christmas tournament with Newton North, Newton South, and Lexington.

“We’ve been there for four or five years and we haven’t won it yet,” Tobin said. “We’d like to take care of that.”

“We have another non-leaguer with Woburn on Jan. 2 and then the rest of the month of January is the league and that’s what we’re looking forward to.”

Recap: No. 12 CM 66, No. 19 Franklin 56

December, 12, 2012

FRANKLIN, Mass. –- Almost right away, one can tell this is a vastly different Catholic Memorial squad from the one that claimed the Catholic Conference outright a season ago.

Gone are two 1,000-point scorers, as well as the starting backcourt (one to prep school, one to an ACL tear during football). And with it has seemingly gone the offensive wizardry –- at least for now.

But on this opening night of the 2012-13 season, in front of a familiar foe’s hostile crowd, the Knights proved they can at least hold their own in the defensive end. Behind an oppressive 2-2-1 full court press and some very physical play on the boards, the Knights built a double-digit lead early over rival Franklin and made it stick, prevailing 66-56 in both teams’ season-opener.

“We just played hard,” said CM sophomore Giulien Smith, who led all scorers with 18 points. “We just have to cut down on the turnovers and we should be good for the season.”

It was a tightly-contested game early, but late in the first quarter the Knights capitalized on several turnovers in the press to close out with a 7-0 run and take a 20-14 lead. In the second quarter, Franklin was held to just 2-for-12 from the field, as the Knights went into the break with a 36-25 advantage.

Trailign 48-40 headed into the final stanza, Franklin was on the cusp of building some momentum when CM senior forward and captain John McDonough, the Knights’ pugilist under the glass, went to the bench with a fourth foul just one minute into the quarter. Craig Anderson then sunk both of his free throws to make it 50-44.

That was as close as the Panthers cut it, however. Coming down the other end, Smith pulled up for a 15-footer near the charity stripe, then the Knights immediately went to their familiar press to force another turnover.

Two minutes later, Rich Lopez (14 points, six rebounds) came up with a layup, then laid out for a loose ball going the other way after 6-foot-6 sophomore David Watkins (six rebounds) stretched out for a deflection in the press. From his knees, Lopez hurled the ball downcourt to D.J. McClure, who was fouled and hit the front end of two shots for a 57-48 lead with 3:30 to go.

The next time down, McDonough chucked a long lob over the top of Franklin’s press to McClure for another easy basket, followed by a great dish from Pat Hurley to Lopez in transition to give the Knights an 11-point lead with less than two minutes to go.

“Typical first game, lot of sloppiness out of both teams,” CM head coach Dennis Tobin said. “I was very happy with the effort that we gave. We're a physically tough team this year. We get a lot of the 50-50 loose balls, we get a lot of the rebounds we shouldn't be getting.

“They made a nice run down the stretch at us and cut it to like six or five. But we kept our poise, moved the ball and were able to get a couple layups out of that.”

Stalking Sammy: Senior point guard Sam Bohmiller is an early leading candidate for Hockomock League MVP, and the identity of the Panthers’ program with his even all-around game, but the Knights made life difficult for him tonight. The 5-foot-10 Bohmiller is known for his accuracy from the perimeter, and ended up with 13 points, but that came on a forgettable 5-for-15 effort from the field.

Simply put, CM made Bohmiller work for his points.

“Basically we wanted to use three or four bodies to tire him (Bohmiller) down,” Tobin said. “He's a terrific player and we wanted to make it hard for him to get the ball once he gave it up in the half-court. Then, look to help, try to make the other guys beat us and not let Bohmiller beat us.”

In the post-game, Franklin coach Dean O’Connor found himself absorbing all the blame, telling reporters “That's on me, I didn’t have them prepared for the intensity that they had.” When it came to Bohmiller, O’Connor cited his team’s struggles screening, and attributed Hurley to much of the troubles.

“They were doing a good job off the ball and Hurley did a good job,” O’Connor said. “Not too many guys can contain him off the dribble, but he did a good job of keeping him in front and the other guys did a good job of denying it.

“We turned into a lot of dribble and not screening and cutting, which is what we want to do. We didn’t make good use of the dribble. Then they got all the hustle plays -- rebounds, loose balls, things like that.”

Bottled Up: In trying to break the Knights’ press, the Panthers countered with diagonal passes through the zone, but some terrific awareness and activity in the backcourt by the Knights made that strategy difficult all night.

The Knights’ press tonight rotated Hurley, Dennis Tobin Jr., and Kevin Claflin way up top, pressing the inbounders; behind them at midcourt were a rotation of Lopez, Smith and Watkins near midcourt on either side of the circle; and way back near the free throw line was McDonough playing centerfield.

Making it all work seamlessly was Lopez, whom the elder Tobin called “probably our toughest player”.

“If you see a ball on the floor he's going to get it,” Tobin said. “He takes charges, does all the things that we ask of him, has a nice soft shot that he really didn't demonstrate tonight but I would say he's the heart and soul of the team.”