Boston High School: Scott Boyle

Boyle resigns from Lowell boys basketball

July, 24, 2013
Scott Boyle resigned this morning as head coach of Lowell High's boys basketball team, multiple news outlets are reporting.

WCAP 980 AM of Lowell was the first to report of Boyle's resignation:

Boyle coached the Red Raiders from 2003 to 2009, then returned to the sidelines for the 2010-11 season after a one-year hiatus. This past season was one of the Raiders' most successful in recent years, going 17-3 in the regular season and achieving as high as a No. 2 ranking in ESPN Boston's statewide pool, before bowing out to Everett in the MIAA Division 1 North quarterfinals. Boyle also coached the football team from 1997 to 2006, twice winning Merrimack Valley Conference titles, before stepping down due a conflict with the athletic department, which wished for him to choose coaching either sport but not both.

Dan Ventura of the Boston Herald has pointed out several interesting names for candidates in an entry posted on the newspaper's high school blog: current Tewksbury coach Phil Connors; Jack O'Brien, formerly of Charlestown; and Sean Connolly, who stepped down from St. John's Prep earlier this offseason.

O'Brien experienced major success in stops at Salem, where he won the 1990 Division 2 state title with former All-American Rick Brunson; and Charlestown, where he won five Division 2 state titles between 2000 and 2006. His 2002 Charlestown squad, considered one of MIAA's best of the last quarter-century, finished No. 16 in USA Today's final poll, and ultimately produced seven Division 1 scholarship players. He has remained out of coaching since backing out of the Lynn English job on the first day of practice in the 2006-07 season, but his name has come up in several searches, most significantly Somerville in 2008.

Connolly, a Peabody native, starred at Bishop Fenwick in the mid to late 1990's before enduring a successful career first at Providence College, then Ohio State. After some success coaching his alma mater Fenwick, Connolly took the Prep job in 2008 and coached the Eagles to their first state title in 2011. He went 89-25 in five seasons at Prep, including a 10-4 mark in the postseason.

Recap: No. 13 North Andover 57, No. 2 Lowell 55

January, 11, 2013
NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. -- A hallmark of a great team is its ability to play well on its home court, regardless of the opponent.

No. 13 North Andover did that Friday, holding off a late rally from No. 2 Lowell to win a 57-55 nail biter for a tone-setting Merrimack Valley Conference victory.

“The fans probably enjoyed it more than the coaches,” said North Andover (9-1) coach Michael McVeigh. “The swings in the game were ridiculous. We held on, it’s as simple as that, against a Lowell (9-1) team that is, deservedly so, ranked very, very high in the state.

“It feels good because I think I went nine or ten deep tonight, and every single one of them did something out there, whether it was a big shot or a big defensive play. So it was a real gutsy win to hold on.”

Lowell actually led for the first 22 minutes of the game. However, the largest lead it ever had throughout the game was seven points.

North Andover tied the game after going on a 9-2 run to end the third. It carried over all the momentum into the fourth, starting the frame on a 13-2 run to bring its lead to double-digits and put Lowell back on its heels.

“I guess we just wanted it more in the fourth quarter,” said North Andover’s Chris Bardwell (24 points, six rebounds). “I was telling everyone that we can’t give up our momentum and we can’t pull back. We were doing everything: getting second shots, making smart choices, we boxed out. We played smart in the fourth.”

With three minutes left in the game, Lowell slowly started to close the gap. Facing a 10-point deficit, Lowell’s Zaryn Green launched a three to make it 56-49. Two possessions later, Drew Healy (nine points, five rebounds) was fouled going up for a lay up. He made one of two free throws to make it a four-point game.

North Andover’s John Enright missed a corner three and the rebound was corralled by Lowell. At the other end of the floor, Green hit another three from the same spot beyond the left elbow to make it 56-55 with 20 seconds left.

Lowell quickly fouled on the ensuing inbounds pass, which insured it would get one more possession with at least a chance to tie.

The Red Raiders got the ball with 17 seconds remaining. With a Lowell player trapped in the left corner, North Andover attacked the ball. The ball was knocked out of bounds, but it remained Lowell ball. After getting one final look at the basket, Isaiah Nelsen (15 points, 14 rebounds) pulled down the final rebound, which iced the game for his team and gave Lowell is first loss of the season.

“They’re a great team,” said Nelsen. “We played a really good game. We fought the whole time. They made their run and we held them off. I think this is a great statement and a great entry into the MVC.”

Inside and out: Early on, it was evident that Lowell’s gameplan was to deny Nelsen from getting the ball in the post. By taking away what the Knights do well, the Red Raiders hoped it would force them to look for other ways to attack. It matched up its center, Healy, with him in the low block; but whenever North Andover tried to set up for an entry pass, another defender would rotate over and deny Nelsen from getting the ball.

While that strategy initially kept him out of the scorebook, it opened up others, like Bardwell, to attack and hit short jumpers. Later in the game, the floor opened up for Nelsen, and he was able to attack the basket to get rebounds and second-chance opportunities that weren’t there for him earlier in the game.

“In the first half, I got a lot of double-teams,” he said. “Bardwell played outstanding in the first half. That’s one thing that’s really good about this team: you can’t really double one of us because that just opens up another one, and we just have so many weapons that can score.”

That didn’t stop McVeigh from trying to get the ball inside to his favorite post player.

“A coach wants to take you out of what you do best,” he said. “So what do you do? So now you go along with the other coach? Now I’ll just shoot it from the outside? That’s what I told our kids at halftime. We’re doing what they want us to do if we don’t keep on making a concerted effort to look inside. That doesn’t mean you always go there, that doesn’t mean you turn it over or force things. But I’m an old-school guy, and if that’s what we do well, and they’re trying to take us away from it, you’re going to have to really, really do it to make us stop doing what we want to.”

Smaller, faster: In the third quarter, Lowell was finding success with a rather unorthodox lineup. When it’s said that a team went small, that is usually relative to its overall height and the height of the other team. Friday, against the 6-foot-5 Bardwell and 6-foot-6 Nelson, Lowell went really small.

Its tallest player, Drew Healy, went to the bench early in the third with three fouls, so coach Scott Boyle had to look elsewhere to match up with North Andover’s players down low.

There were times when 6-foot Zaryn Green (12 points), the same guard that hit the two three-pointers in the final minutes, was matched up on Bardwell around the basket. Jonathan Perez and Hakeem Turay, 6-foot and 6-foot-1 respectively, guarded Nelson at various points in the quarter. The Knights did the best they could to attack those mismatches, but for the most part, the Lowell players held their own and held their lead until late in the quarter.

“There’s an old coaches adage, ‘You have to find ‘em to hit ‘em,” said McVeigh. “That’s why a lot of great rebounders are not your seven-footers. There are guys who are quick to the ball and have that will to get it. Lowell absolutely had it down the stretch. The number of second shots they had were killers.”

Inspired by loss: During long seasons in sports, teams and observers can often look at a particular time period, occasion, or moment that either defines a team’s season or turns it around. It is possible North Andover could’ve had its already.

On Dec. 20 in the opening round Greater Lawrence Christmas Tournament, North fell to No. 11 Andover 76-62. At first glance, the score appears lopsided, but that game actually went to overtime. It was only in the extra frame that Andover pulled away.

So how could a team with so much promise like North Andover come out so flat against a rival when the game mattered most? The result did not sit well with anyone on the team, and it has since ripped off six wins in a row just as it is getting into the heart of its schedule.

“That game showed us that we’re a much better team than we were,” said Bardwell. “We improved so much. We’ve been practicing harder, we’ve been doing everything harder. It’s just been awesome after that game. We came together, we believed in ourselves, and we’ve been doing great after that game.”

“That game motivated this win,” added Nelson. “After that game, we’ve been practicing so much harder, we’ve been getting here earlier, we’ve been running stairs before practice. That’s been our motivation and we’re not going to let that happen again.”

Recap: No. 2 Lowell 57, New Bedford 51

January, 6, 2013
NEW BEDFORD, Mass. –- The opening minutes of the first installment of this home-and-home series two weeks ago played out similar to the way things did today. In that Dec. 21 meeting, Lowell center Drew Healy picked up two quick first-quarter fouls, then the Red Raiders exploded in the second quarter en route to a 93-39 blowout of New Bedford that one had to see to honestly believe.

Less than three minutes into this afternoon’s tussle at Ed Rodrigues Court, and the 6-foot-7 big man found himself in foul trouble again.

But if Lowell’s ensuing offense was a symphony in that first meeting, then today’s version was a dirge.

The No. 2 Red Raiders etched out a sloppy 57-51 win over the host Whalers thanks to some clutch free throws in the final minute, but nobody from Lowell left the Whaling City today happy with the way things played out.

Following the game, Lowell head coach Scott Boyle had some strong words for the team, and echoed similar sentiments to reporters.

“I’ll give [New Bedford coach Tom Tarpey] credit, his guys came out ready to play,” Boyle said. “It’s just our maturity of a team, we’re not gifted [enough] to come out and...Our guys might be reading the local newspapers, local media, thinking we’re good. We’re not good unless we really get after it.

“We’ve got a shot to be good, but if we come out with efforts like that? I mean, they outplayed us for stretches, and we won the last minute or two, but that’s not the way we want to do it. I give them credit, but I’m just disappointed with the focus we had.”

While limited by foul trouble, Healy (nine points, nine rebounds) came up clutch in the fourth quarter, going a perfect 4-for-4 from the field in the stanza and giving the Raiders (8-0) the final go-ahead points. He first cleaned up on an errant three from Jonathan Perez (18 points) for a 48-47 lead; then after Kevin Nunes sunk two free throws, Healy took a feed from Zaryn Green (11 points) in transition and finished with a powerful two-handed overhand slam, and 50-49 lead.

At the other end, Healy cleared out his defender to scoop up an errant Quincy Pope three-point attempt, and the Whalers (5-2) sent Perez to the line for free throws.

Perez, Kevin Brito and Kareem Davis combined for five free throws in the final 28 seconds to seal it.

At the other end of the court, Tarpey was pleased with the effort of his squad. Devoid of size outside 6-foot-3 center Josh Pontes, the Whalers make no qualms about their affinity for the press; in the first meeting, the Raiders easily slipped through the press for fast break after fast break. And above all else, the Raiders seemingly did what they pleased in the first meeting, as evidenced by the final score, but today’s contest was made gritty by the Whalers’ relentlessness in man-to-man sets.

“We got more and more confidence in the second half, and then we couldn’t get over the hump for whatever reason,” Tarpey said. “Defensive pressure kind of hurt us at the end, but they [Lowell] are a good team for a reason. I give my kids credit. After what happened last time, I just think it’s going to do wonders for our team.”

That opportunity to seize momentum was brought on late in the third quarter by sophomore Tyree Weston (16 points). With senior captain and point guard Rylin Collazo (12 points) on the bench with four fouls, the 5-foot-10 Weston took over ballhandling duties, and finished with three assists for the quarters. That included the crucial dish with 16 seconds left that gave them a 36-35 lead, finding Pope in right corner for an open trey that made it 36-35 Whalers.

“He’s tough,” Tarpey said of Weston. “He had to play the one because of foul trouble, and he’s just gonna be tough. He plays a lot older than a sophomore in big situations like that. We don’t like moral victories here, but you know what? Hopefully we can build on this and get better.”

Shoring up the D: When Healy encountered foul trouble in the first game of this series, the Raiders pushed up the tempo, inserted a smaller but quicker lineup, and torched the Whalers with slick ball movement around the perimeter in a five-out offensive look.

The difference this time around? The Whalers were much more aggressive in defending Brito (who had five 3-pointers in the first meeting), face-guarding him and generally making him uncomfortable. They also clamped down on Healy, double-teaming him and trying to limit his touches around the basket.

It took some bonus ball to get it done (Collazo, Weston and Pontes all picked three fouls each in the first half), but the Whalers did a good job of cutting off passing lanes as well.

“We didn’t want to let them get in the middle,” Tarpey said. “Mostly Davis, because we know when he’s in the middle he’s kicking out and these guys are hitting open three’s, so we didn’t want to let him get in the middle. We just wanted to play solid defense.

“Down there, we were gambling a lot, fouling a lot, we just said ‘Play solid defense’. And if they hit a three with a hand in their face, God bless them.”

Recap: No. 2 Lowell 50, No. 11 Andover 40

January, 4, 2013
LOWELL, Mass. -- If the Merrimack Valley Conference basketball season is anything like it was during football season, it will be a fight to the finish.

That was exemplified Friday night, when No. 2 Lowell beat No. 11 Andover 50-40 in a defensive slugfest.

Lowell came out sluggish in the first quarter, failing to score a basket for the first 5:30 of the game. Part of that was due to the early play, or lack thereof, of its center Drew Healy (12 points, seven rebounds). He was having difficulty holding on to the basketball and finishing.

“I didn’t come out ready, my head wasn’t in the game,” he said. “I saw the energy and I saw the crowd, and I knew how the game was going to be and I had to react and come out and play like I usually do.”

Lowell (7-0) coach Scott Boyle removed Healy from the game in the middle of the quarter, hoping to light a spark under him. He was put back into the game, and the team’s play changed. Where he was getting boxed out and outmuscled by Andover’s Sam Dowden (10 points, four rebounds) early on, it was Healy who started taking advantage of his positioning and asserting himself underneath.

In the second quarter, Lowell switched away from man-to-man concepts and went to a more traditional zone defense. It was great timing on their part as Andover’s shooters went cold. Lowell took care of the long rebounds and went out in transition and took a lead it would never relinquish.

Lowell took a 20-15 lead into halftime, but Andover (5-2) did not go quietly. Recognizing its need for points, coach Dave Fazio put in Jack Konevich, a left-handed long-range shooter to make some noise behind the three-point line. He hit two quality shots, and around the same time, Andover’s Chris Dunn started to get hot from three. Suddenly, Andover was only down 35-32 heading into the fourth.

The Lowell defense was just too much, however. With costly turnovers turned into transition baskets, including a last-minute dagger three-pointer by Kevin Brito (eight points), Lowell was able to secure the victory.

“It was kind of par for the course, it’s never going to be easy either way in our league,” said Boyle. “We finished the game tonight in the fourth quarter which is important to me, when it was still a back-and-forth game. I just thought they’re a real good team, they’re sound, and I thought it was a real good test for us. We played well on our home court, and you have to win on your home court.”

Flipping the switch: In the second quarter, Lowell switched to a zone defense and Andover could not take advantage. It was as though Lowell was daring the Golden Warriors to shoot from the outside, and it sure did. Andover went 1-for-12 from the field in the quarter.

Healy, mentally and physically in the game at this point after struggling early, consistently outmuscled and out-rebounded his counterpart Dowden, which prevented the possibility of any Andover second chance points. The Red Raiders went on a 9-0 run at the end of the half and go into the break up 20-15.

“They’re a well-coached team and they run great offensive sets,” said Boyle. “We wanted to try and get them out of rhythm. Tonight, it kind of worked for us, and that’s why you take a shot. They’re a great zone team as well, they can shoot the ball, and I thought because we have some length, we had the ability to play a little zone.”

Healy gave Dowden fits for most of the night. Dowden, at 6-foot-4 and 195 pounds, is used to being able to use his body effectively underneath the basket to create space and easy baskets. However, against the 6-foot-7 Healy and the tightly-packed Lowell zone, he struggled to find room to maneuver inside, and when he did, often had his shot contested or found himself in a tie-up situation with a swarming Lowell defender.

“Usually we’re just straight man D,” said Healy. “Coach wanted to mix it up tonight because of the matchup differences, and we’ve been working on it in practice the last couple weeks. They missed shots so we just had to box out and play tough.”

Andover’s Dunn (14 points) still hit four 3-pointers in the game, but it was never enough to close the gap on the scoreboard.

Round Two: Sunday, Lowell will have a rematch with New Bedford, a mere 16 days after the Red Raiders 54-point drubbing on its home court. Healy is not expecting it to be nearly as easy this time around.

“We came out and our shooters were on, they were hitting, Kevin (Brito) hit five three’s,” he said. “We just kept pushing it and pushing it, and then we won. This time we expect a bigger challenge, but we’re going to go into the game just like we did every other game. We’re going to go in there and fight, and the best man comes out winning.”

Charlestown, Dorchester bursting onto scene

December, 22, 2012
Some notes and observations from another wild week of MIAA basketball:


Townies on a tear: Is there any team in Massachusetts more feast-or-famine right now than Charlestown?

Consider the first four results of the season ( ranking in parentheses):

Dec. 14 – vs. (4) New Mission – L, 87-60
Dec. 15 – vs. (3) BC High – L, 70-44
Dec. 18 – vs. (17) Brighton – W, 66-47
Dec. 20 – at (12) East Boston – W, 53-48

Talk about a brutal start, but talk about suddenly just turning it on. In the Brighton win, the Townies led 50-20 late in the third quarter; at Eastie, they went up 49-35 in the fourth before a late 14-0 run from the Jets made it interesting again.

We unceremoniously dropped Charlestown from the poll following the two season-opening blowout losses. But the way the Boston City League season is going under this new alignment, we might as well stick all five teams from the top tier in the poll and leave them there. It’s going be a roller coaster.

On paper, this is a squad with Top-10 potential, but until the Brighton win they had yet to figure out how to work with each other –- that tends to happen when you have just one holdover from last season, and a couple of transfers.

Last season, the Townies switched to a 2-3 zone to crack out of a slump, and they rode that all the way to a Division 1 North title. Safe to say the 2-3 is here to stay. A key adjustment they’ve made within that is moving Allijah Robinson from the elbow to the baseline/corner on either side of junior center Freddy Oliveira.

Down the road, the 6-foot-6 junior may be a more natural fit along the wing; but right now, he gives the Townies a much-needed presence underneath the boards. With Robinson, Oliveira (6-foot-6) and junior Taris Wilson (6-foot-3) playing low in the zone, that’s a pretty good amount of size to overcome.

The Townies show some toughness, too. Robinson filled the stat sheet in Tuesday’s win (15 points, 12 rebounds, four blocks, four steals), but he also fractured the orbital bone on his right index finger. He had his hand taped up for Thursday’s tilt with Eastie, but after shootaround decided to go bare-handed. He led the team in scoring anyways (16 points), and didn’t appear to be lingering at all.

“I was surprised he was even hitting three’s,” Charlestown coach Edson Cardoso said. “I wrapped up his hand and he’s like, ‘I’m ready, coach’. One more game, and then he can rest for two weeks.

“He’s getting tough. We want him to get tougher, he needs to get tougher, and tonight he proved that, through some injury, he stood in there and played his heart out. He’s also become the leader in timeouts, being positive, telling guys ‘Good job’, and he’s stepping up. He’s coming out of his shell.”


Body By Boyle: Hard not to come away from Lowell’s 93-39 rout of a pretty sharp New Bedford squad and not think this is one of the more complete teams in Eastern Mass., one through eight.

Against the undersized Whalers, the Red Raiders were achieving seemingly whatever they wanted. They ran fast breaks at a blistering pace. They lobbed 50-foot passes over the top of New Bedford’s press for easy baskets. When 6-foot-7 center Drew Healy picked up his second foul late in the first quarter, they went five-out and created a series of open perimeter shots with slick ball movement. When New Bedford brought the ball up, Lowell greeted them with an extended 2-1-2 zone defense that gave them fits.

Plain and simple, Lowell's starting five of Jonathan Perez, Kareem Davis, Kevin Brito, Zaryn Green and Healy is one of the better in Eastern Mass.

One of the biggest things I came away from was the team’s overall upper-body strength. Players were ripping balls loose for steals. Underneath the glass, both guards and forwards alike were throwing their shoulders around and muscling their way to rebounds.

“I’m all over them about it in the offseason,” head coach Scott Boyle said following the win. “The kids work hard in practice and in the offseason. They work hard for it.”

Boyle’s regimen is a bit unique, though, littered with dynamic exercises that hardly involve any weights. One day, players may be taking shot puts and either lugging them around the field house or tossing them. Another day, they’ll be driving the rolled-up cheerleader mats around the perimeter of the gym (for an idea of how hard that is, try pushing a towel around the floor by driving your feet). Still another day, they might be across the city, pushing a sled on a hill behind Rogers Middle School.

“We do some crazy stuff...There’s a lot of different stuff we do with them,” Boyle said. “They’re using their overall body strength, and I mean some of the kids are athletically gifted to start with, too. It shows up, and for us…they’re a young team that’s very talented.

“In our home court, we should be able to get on a team. In two weeks [the Raiders face New Bedford again on Jan. 6], they’ll be fired up and ready to go.

Said Healy, “They were crazy hard, but it pays off. We did a lot of work to work on our body -– endurance, speed. It pays off.”


Don’t Doubt ‘The Dot’, ctd.: We penned Dorchester as a sleeper in the Boston City League during the preseason, and after taking some lumps early against Cambridge and Boston English, it looks like the Bears (3-2) finally got the signature win they were looking for.

Against Madison Park on Friday night, the Bears trailed 13-6 after one but exploded in the second, outscoring the Cardinals 30-5 in the frame to take a 36-18 halftime lead. They never looked back, winning going away 70-52.

After some early struggles, the Bears went back to what’s worked well for them – guard pressure – and switched to an extended 2-3 zone. Later, they moved to a 1-2-2 halfcourt press, and forced a number of turnovers off of traps.

We know what junior guards Dean Lee (three 3-pointers) and Khalil Newson (13 points, 13 assists) are capable of, and what an avalanche the Bears’ transition game can become when it gets a full head of steam. But the Bears also excelled in the halfcourt, sparked by two treys from Lee from his beloved baseline corner spot.

“Dean is our specialist,” Dorchester head coach Johnny Williams said. “But he just stretches floor. Even if he doesn’t hit it, they have to respect him. He demands so much attention.”

The night’s biggest contribution, however, came down low.

With star junior center D’Bryant Coraprez suspended for the first eight games of the season (violation of team rules), 6-foot-7 senior Dakari Hannahwornum stepped up with colossal night, pouring in 26 points, 28 rebounds and four blocks.

“And the funny thing with Dakari, we only gave him three passes,” Williams said. “He gets everything off the miss. He’s a tenacious rebounder, acutely aware of his surroundings around basket, finishes with his left or right, and he’s able to contort his body to finish around the rim. He had two big, thunderous dunks that ignited the team.”

Yet again, we are seeing the fruits of this new Boston City League alignment. The Bears, lined in the second tier (alternately the “B” or “Central” division), suddenly find themselves relevant -- and respected by their peers -- at just the right time.

“The crowd that was there, the other coaches that were there -– Hugh Coleman [Brighton], Mike Kasprzak [Melrose], Malcolm Smith [formerly East Boston], it meant a lot for our kids to see them finally,” Williams said. “It was good for the kids. They work hard, and they wanted to prove they could play with one of the A division teams. The kids believe they can play with anyone in the state.”


Bursting onto the scene: After two weeks of girls basketball, we know at least two things. Braintree, which has won its first three games by an average margin of 38 points, looks every bit the No. 1 team in the state. And Donnaizha Fountain might end up carrying Cambridge on her back most nights, as she did in the Falcons’ 46-39 loss to Arlington Catholic (30 points, 10 rebounds, eight blocks, five steals).

But I’m looking at a few other explosive starts as well. Sophomore Molly Bent totaled 72 points this week in two games against New Bedford, both wins. With the graduation of Rogetta Donaldson and Olivia Costello, Bent has taken a more assertive role in the offense, which includes a faster pace. The Red Raiders can run, and when the run is there they can run a unique triangle offense that can get her the ball off of screens.

Also keep an eye out for Lowell’s 6-foot-2 freshman center, Lexi Schecter. The pivot had a solid debut in the season-opening win over Haverhill (14 points, 10 rebounds), but the one that sticks out is her performance a few days later, registering 17 blocks in a win over Dracut.

Recap: No. 8 Lowell 93, No. 14 New Bedford 39

December, 22, 2012

LOWELL, Mass. -– In a highly-anticipated matchup between two of the state’s best sophomores, Lowell’s Kareem Davis and New Bedford’s Tyree Weston, the host Red Raiders won in grand fashion, blowing out visiting New Bedford by the surreal margin of 93-39.

The Whalers (3-1) were able to keep the game within relative striking distance early on while Lowell 6-foot-8 center Drew Healy was on the bench with foul trouble, but Lowell started to develop some momentum and pull away in the second quarter thanks to three first-half treys from senior guard Kevin Brito, a skying dunk by DeWayne Thomas, and exceptional point guard play by Davis. Following the first half, Lowell (3-0) led 49-31.

As Healy got more involved with the offense in the third quarter, the Red Raiders started to blow New Bedford out of the gym in the second half, with Lowell’s subs playing the large majority of the fourth quarter. Thomas took on an important scoring role in the second half for Lowell, scoring 11 of his 13 points in the second half; all of his points came by way of lay-ups, runners, or dunks.

Life without Healy: Healy got in foul trouble early on in the first half, so as a result Lowell had to play the majority of the half without their senior big man on the floor. Lowell changed up their offensive game a little bit with Healy, and went with a dribble-drive five out offense.

Brito finished with five treys in all -- three of which were assisted by Davis -- but Lowell’s unselfish willingness to make the extra pass and get teammates open looks was the most striking part of their offensive performance. Five Red Raiders finished the game in double figures.

Head coach Scott Boyle couldn’t help but praise his team’s play with the ball.

“That’s what you’re hoping for," he said. "And it isn’t always like that...But when it happens it’s nice to see, and that’s what we’re trying to coach. That’s what the kids did tonight, they executed and it was really nice to see,” he said.

Davis’ development: When considering the depth of the MIAA’s sophomore class, the fact that Davis may be the best point guard in the group is a true testament to his on-court maturity. The 5-foot-9 Davis was the catalyst of the Red Raiders’ offense in the first half, dropping 6 assists over that span and scoring 9 points. Finishing with 12 points and 8 dimes in all, Boyle said it was the type of breakout performance that he had been looking for in his point guard:

“I really thought tonight was the first time where [Kareem] came out and played the way he’s capable of playing,” he said, “The first couple games he struggled a little but, but [tonight] I thought he really made a commitment on defense. He did a good job distributing and shooting the ball when he was open. I like the way he played.”

Lockdown defense: Lowell gave up just eight points in the second half, as New Bedford was only able to score three field goals in the final 16 minutes of the game. The long, athletic Raiders put constant pressure on New Bedford’s guards, setting up in a 2-1-2 stretch zone that trapped the Whalers on the free throw line extended.

“That three or four-minute span in the second half really got us going," Boyle said. "Tonight, a lot of things went right for us, and we work hard, so you deserve it every once in awhile."

Boyle said he hopes that his team can continue their strong defense and unselfish play that they displayed tonight, and they’ll certainly need it playing in the buzzsaw that is the Merrimack Valley Conference; Andover narrowly took down North Andover last night, Central Catholic is position to take over the No. 1 spot in week’s top 25, and Lawrence returns a talented, experienced group.

“When our kids get in the game they want to play as hard as they can, and that creates problems for some teams,” Boyle said, “tonight I thought they gelled and played well together and made that extra pass.”

Recap: No. 20 Lawrence 62, No. 23 Lowell 57

January, 20, 2012
LOWELL, Mass. -- After Lowell pulled within 3 points of Lawrence after a Corey Brown steal and layup, the Lancers were set to inbound the ball with under half a minute to go Friday.

Coming out of a timeout, Lowell coach Scott Boyle wanted his team to disguise their press as man-to-man when it really was more of a trap zone.

As the ball was inbounded to Yadoris Arias, two Lowell defenders converged on him, trapping him in the corner. He made what some would call a risky decision and sent a cross-court pass to a teammate. The pass was successful, and it was quickly pushed ahead to Tre’von Farley, who was fouled under the basket.

With the entire gym anxiously watching, knowing the outcome of the game could potentially hinge on his ability to hit one of the two free throws, Farley converted them both. Lawrence left the gym with a 62-57 victory in a crucial Merrimack Valley Conference tilt.

“I’ve been in the gym shooting free throws since our last game (a 69-67 loss against Central Catholic),” said Farley. “I was just thinking about the free throw. I was thinking, ‘Nothing’s gonna stop me from hitting these free throws,’ so I was really confident and just focused on hitting those free throws.”

Farley had 28 points and eight rebounds to lead the Lancers. He was 8-of-10 on free throws. His presence underneath was important for Lawrence (8-2) since his frontcourt mate, Roberto Speing, picked up his 4th foul early in the third quarter, forcing him to the bench.

“He played well, he was one of the only guys that played well offensively,” said Lawrence coach Paul Neal. “He was also big rebounding. He was a guy that just did a lot. He scored when we needed a big score and he got his hands on the ball.”

Lowell had no answer down low for the 6-foot-3 senior, who played with a tenacity and aggressiveness of someone bigger than his size.

“For me, I look to score and be aggressive, if not I look to pass,” Farley said. “Being aggressive tonight was successful, so every chance I got I went to the hoop and looked to score. It ended up being a good game.”

Jonathan Perez was the leading scorer for Lowell (8-3) with 23 points, including 8-of-10 from the free throw line, and 5 rebounds.

“We didn’t play well, but I think it’s also a good sign for a team,” said Neal. “It’s a road game against a very scrappy team, so to be able to get a league win, you’ve got to feel good about it.”

Going Green: Earlier in the season, Neal referenced his team’s lack of game experience as a potential pitfall for his team as the season wore on. While there are eight seniors on the team, some of them are players that did not see the floor much last season, if at all.

Although they hung on for the victory, their youthful aggression was evident early in the contest. In the first quarter, his team was called for at least four charging fouls as they were driving to the basket. It became a point of emphasis for Lowell, believing it could get an offensive foul called on most Lawrence offensive possessions if players were in position.

For every mental lapse and youthful mistake his team can make at times, Neal still likes the direction his team is headed as the focus starts to shift towards the postseason.

“I like where the team is at because I think we can improve,” he said. “Even in this game, I don’t see anything that I can look at and say we did that well. We found a way to win, which is good, but as far as execution, even defensively, we had a lot of mistakes. This team has a lot of potential to get better, so hopefully we can get it out of them.”

Streak snapped: The win snapped a five-game winning streak for Lowell and put Lawrence in second place in the MVC Large, behind cross-town rival Central Catholic. The Lancers’ only two losses on the season have come at the hands of Central. There will be another meeting on February 7. That is not lost on Lawrence, who came into the game stinging from the 2-point loss from last weekend.

“I don’t think this was a statement win,” said Farley. “I think we just came in and did what we had to do. There’s bigger teams than them. We know they’re a good team, but we’re still looking to make our statement.”

When asked if he was referencing a particular team, he simply replied, “Central Catholic.”

Mid-season Boys Hoop Superlatives

January, 17, 2012
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.

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

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

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

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