Boston High School: Shooting Touch Shootout

Video: Recapping Shooting Touch Shootout

December, 29, 2013
MEDFORD, Mass. -- ESPN Boston High Schools editor Brendan Hall and correspondent Andy Smith break down the third annual Shooting Touch Shootout, at Tufts University's Cousens Gymnasium:

(Video by Greg Story)

MEDFORD, Mass. -– They read the scouting reports, they read the hype, and New Mission’s undersized forwards knew they were in for the heavyweight bout of their lives against 7-foot-1 behemoth Karl Towns, the Kentucky-bound center who is considered St. Joseph (N.J.) High’s most talented export since Andrew Bynum.

Asante Sandiford knew he might have to take a liberty or two to stay even. Fellow forward Bam Rivers admitted exhaustion after the game, the Titans having played their second contest in as many days, and a third on the docket in less than 12 hours.

But going the other way, it wasn’t a clean affair either, Towns sporting a speckling of blood down the right side of his jersey in the post-game (“Elbow hit a tooth,” he explained, with a laugh).

The Falcons breezed out of Tufts University’s Cousens Gymnasium with a 71-49 win over Mission (3-1), highlighted by a monster night from Towns (20 points, 19 rebounds, 6 blocks) -– but not before getting a bit of a scare in the first half.

After the 6-foot-4 Rivers slapped the opening tip-off away from Towns, the Titans took a 5-0 lead on a beautifully-executed kickout to the corner for Rivers. Junior guard Randy Glenn (13 points) drove to the elbow and found Tyrique Lee to the blocks. Rather than go up with it, Lee immediately slapped the pass into the corner, where the wide-bodied Rivers buried a trey.

Shaquan Murray then gave the Titans their final lead of the night, 9-8, with a runner at the buzzer. From there, it was all St. Joe’s.

The Falcons opened the second quarter on a 17-5 run, with plenty of highlight-reel fodder along the way. Up 10-9 early the quarter, Towns got a piece of a Sandiford layup attempt, flicked a frozen rope of an outlet pass deep up court, and watched as Vanderbilt commit Wade Baldwin completed a three-point player at the other end.

A few moments later, Towns took a backdoor lob from sophomore Breein Tyree and slammed it home with authority. That was followed up later by another backdoor alley-oop, this one from Baldwin to Marques Townes, for a 30-15 lead shortly before the break.

St. Joe’s led 33-15 at the break, and 54-31 after three quarters.

Holding down Towns: It was a tall task, but somebody had to do it. In this case it was Sandiford (11 points, nine rebounds), the 6-foot-4 Franklin Pierce commit, that was saddled with manning up Towns. Giving up nine inches to Towns -– the No. 6 overall player in the Class of 2014, according to ESPNU –- made everything a chore for Sandiford. But he was up for the challenge, at times taking liberties just to stay even with the big man.

There were times when Sandiford hooked an arm around Towns’ midsection, and Towns would reach over Sandiford with his free arm for an easy basket. There were other times when Towns was held down with a tug of the jersey, only to pick up a foul on his way up and convert a three-point play. Other times, Towns saw a double-team, or he saw tight traffic as multiple bodies crashed to the basket.

For his part, Sandiford said those liberties were his own calling, saying “We do whatever it takes”.

“I’ve just been blessed with a lot of talent, I’ve worked hard in the gym, and I expect this when I go out,” Towns said of the physicality. “I expect to get hammered, and have the liberty to just do mostly anything they want against me. I just have to go out there and play my game, and everything will come.”

When Mission coach Cory McCarthy went to scout St. Joe’s the night before, in the Falcons win over Archbishop Wood (Pa.) on the first day of the Shooting Touch Shootout, he noted how many three’s Towns attempted. McCarthy thought his kids “could have been tougher, could have been grimier”, but had a suspicion it was going to be a physical game today.

“Just as I thought, when somebody plays against us, they’re gonna be good, because we play so antagonistic that people get mad and start playing really well,” McCarthy laughed. “So I think we really aggravated him and pissed him off a bit. I don’t mind that. He’s a hell of a player.

“I thought we did a good job on him. He got some dunks, but he played like a man, and he had to play like a man to beat us. I felt like we were in the game most of the game, and our kids never gave up.

Said Towns of the physicality, “For me, this was a very good game, and I was happy that I was able to be a little bit more physical than I have been in the last few games.”

Three times, Sandiford attempted the “dream shake” move made famous by Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon, but was unable to convert any of the attempts. Once, he drew a foul from Towns, the big man’s only foul of the game. Another time, he was simply stuffed.

For a move with such a unique degree of difficulty, Sandiford executed it well. It’s just that, well, the guy he did against just happens to be Olajuwon’s height.

“Just because he’s taller doesn’t mean anything,” Sandiford said. “You can still work him, know what I mean? You can use your post moves, and use quicker feet.”

Towns said he enjoyed the matchup with Sandiford.

“I had seen how everything was playing, and coach came in today, when they said the starting lineups, and said ‘You’re taking No. 4 [Sandiford] today’,” Towns said. “I said, ‘No problem’. I always love playing against the best players on every team, so I’m just glad he was at my position today and I was able to play him.”

Video: Recapping Mansfield vs. Spellman

December, 29, 2013
MEDFORD, Mass. -- ESPN Boston High Schools Editor Brendan Hall breaks down the matchup between No. 2 Mansfield and No. 16 Cardinal Spellman on the second day of the Shooting Touch Shootout, at Tufts University's Cousens Gymnasium:

(Video by Greg Story)

Shooting Touch: St. Anthony (N.J.) 66, C'Town 38

December, 29, 2013
MEDFORD, Mass. -- St. Anthony (N.J.) coach Bob Hurley is in the Basketball Hall of Fame for a reason.

He is notorious for finding the faults in his team, even when they win by as wide a margin as it did Saturday night, when the Friars left the Shooting Touch Shootout with a 66-38 victory over Charlestown.

His team started the game about as well as it could, running out to a 19-0 first quarter lead. The Townies did not score their first basket until two minutes left in the quarter. St. Anthony’s ball pressure created turnovers and prevented Charlestown from getting into its set offense. It had a 39-16 lead going into halftime. To an outside observer, that is a dominant half of basketball.

To a Hall of Fame basketball coach? Anything but.

“To be quite honest, when we got to 19-0 we folded our jackets and thought we didn’t have to do anything else for the rest of the day,” said Hurley. “Unfortunately, it was 19-0 with still probably three minutes left in the first quarter. There was still 27 more minutes to play. With the exception of about three minutes in the fourth quarter, when we got some layups and looked a little bit like a basketball team, giving us a total of about 8 minutes, it was just miserable to coach them.

"It was miserable to think we have them in practice every day, and I can’t begin to tell you how disappointed I am in my team’s lack of leadership and how we truly don’t compete. We just decided it was done very early.”

Charlestown came out with a renewed energy in the third quarter, but it could only cut the St. Anthony’s lead to 15.

“At halftime, I told my team that St. Anthony’s is playing hard on defense, you can’t get in your sets,” said Charlestown coach Edson Cardoso. “You can’t get open because you’re not playing hard enough to get open and run your sets. I thought in the second half we tried harder to get open, we set harder screens, ran faster, and we played as a team.”

Tarin Smith lead the way for St. Anthony (4-0) with 19 points. Freddy Oliveira and Oliver Benner each had 10 points for Charlestown.

Back to the drawing board? Not so fast When a team wins by 28 points and does not play its best game, it would seem like a coach’s dream to be able to get back in practice and be able to show the team it has things to work on. For Bob Hurley, he disagrees with that notion completely.

“We worked hard, we were in the gym for an hour earlier today working on things to get ready,” said the coach. “Our preparation is the same as its been for years, but we don’t have the same type of players to take the work that they are given. We’re not meeting in the middle. It’s not a 50-50 split here by leadership, by staff and then with effort and purpose for the kids.”

Running the gauntlet: The first four games of Charlestown’s season have arguably been as tough as any team’s in the state. While it is only 1-3, Cardoso thinks these games can be a good evaluator and learning experience for his team in preparation of its Boston City League schedule.

In the City League, Charlestown is sure to see a fast pace and defensive pressure like it saw Saturday against St. Anthony’s.

“In our first four games, we played New Mission, Smithfield, the state champions of Rhode Island, St. John’s Prep, and St. Anthony’s, so I like to play these four or five tough games early,” he said. “When we go into the City League and play even tougher teams and try to make a run. We know every chance we have an opportunity. I feel like going into the second half of the season, this game is going to wake us up a little more and get us ready to go. Hopefully a sense of urgency will kick in.”

MEDFORD, Mass. –- Mansfield senior guard Rocky DeAndrade had been struggling to find his shot for most of the first three quarters of the Hornets’ battle with Cardinal Spellman, in the third annual Shooting Touch Shootout. But when it came around, it put the feisty Cardinals away for good.

DeAndrade, who was 1-for-9 from the field headed into the fourth, orchestrated a 10-3 run to start the frame, giving the Hornets a double-digit cushion over Spellman (4-2) that they would not relinquish over the final five minutes. The Hornets won, 60-47, to sweep both of their Shooting Touch contests this weekend at Tufts University’s Cousens Gymnasium.

“He’s one of those kids, he just keeps coming at you,” Mansfield (3-0) head coach Mike Vaughan said of DeAndrade. “He’s not forcing it, he’s not turning the ball over a lot, [and] he’s not giving up baskets out of turnovers if he does. He’s playing really solid basketball right now, I’m very happy with him.”

Holding a 40-37 lead to start the fourth, Mansfield freshman Matt Ehrlich knocked down a three-pointer to make it a six-point lead, only to watch Stonehill-bound Spellman point guard Ryan Roach (12 points) fire back immediately with a trey of his own.

That’s when DeAndrade got going.

With a 43-40 lead, DeAndrade came down the lane in transition with a hesitation move on a Spellman defender, then floated the ball over him. Two trips later, DeAndrade gathered behind the arc along the left wing, then reset and dribbled to the elbow for a 15-footer.

The next trip down, DeAndrade made it 50-40 with a nifty sequence of events, grabbing a loose ball rolling along the floor in his own end, pushing the ball up in transition, then driving and kicking out to junior Ryan Boulter (24 points, 11 rebounds) at the left wing for an open three.

A few moments later, Boulter took a handoff from DeAndrade and swung to the right corner, beating the shot clock buzzer with a high-arching three that made it 54-43 with four minutes to go.

“We knew we had to pull away, so we had to find the best way possible,” DeAndrade said. “Ryan’s three was huge, and Matt [Ehrlich] had some huge rebounds for us.”

Something they thought they could take advantage of in the second half?

“We started to cut, and then we came back to the middle to cut and find the ball,” DeAndrade said. “In the first half, we were just cutting to cut, and then we missed a lot of guys on open looks. “Second half, we focused on cutting with a purpose.”

Rory Donovan led Spellman with 14 points and six rebounds, while Joey Crane added 13 points and 11 rebounds.

Rocky vs. Roach: One of the most anticipated individual matchups was between the two points guards, DeAndrade and Roach. DeAndrade was a catalyst for the Hornets’ run to the Division 1 State Championship last season, and returns as one of the state’s top point guards on a squad that is once again a D1 favorite. Roach, meanwhile, signed with Division 2 Stonehill College during the early signing period last month, and leads a Spellman squad that is among the favorites in D3 across the state.

DeAndrade had just five points, but it was his distribution that keyed the Hornets, finishing with six assists. Roach had 12 points, but was 5-for-12 from the field.

“He’s shifty, he’s quick,” DeAndrade said of Roach. “He can handle, he can score. It was tough guarding him as a player.”

No posts? No problem: Much has been made of the fact Mansfield is without three of its starters –- forwards Brendan Hill (knee) and Kevin Conner (hip), and guard Mike Hershman (sports hernia) –- as they begin their Division 1 Eastern Mass title defense. They’ll likely be snakebitten for most of the season’s first half, as the 6-foot-5 Hill –- a junior, and the reigning Hockomock League MVP -– could be out another month as he rehabs from the knee injury suffered late in football season.

With all that considered, it’s fair to question how well the Hornets would rebound in their absence. But not only have Boulter and Michael Boen slid into the forward positions seamlessly, they’ve thrived in it. They have out-rebounded opponents in all three of their games so far; tonight, the Hornets out-rebounded Spellman 38-24, including an 11-2 mark in the fourth.

“Coming into the season if you had asked me my biggest concern about this team, knowing what we’re missing, I would have said rebounding. And ironically, I don’t think we’ve had an opponent out-rebound us yet,” Vaughan said. “To me, that’s a good sign, primarily because of Boulter and Boen. Boulter has had double-digit rebounds every game. He’s going after the ball, he’s diving to the floor, keeping balls alive.

“We’re doing a good job of team rebounding, too…I think they’ve made a commitment, knowing that that was going to be a weakness going forward that we were going to have to overcome.”

Said Boulter, “Coach [Vaughan] told us over the summer, and during the preseason, that we were going to have to step it up, because Brendan and Kevin were hurt. But we just follow their roles and play great basketball.”

Shooting Touch: CBA (N.J.) 60, Franklin 48

December, 28, 2013
MEDFORD, Mass. -- It could have been very easy for Franklin to just give up after going down by 24 points to Christian Brothers Academy (N.J.) Saturday at the Shooting Touch Shootout, but it didn’t.

Franklin coach Dean O’Connor could have conceded and emptied his bench, but his players fought back and slowly closed the gap. It was to little too late, however. The lead never got into single digits and Christian Brothers Academy left with a 60-48 victory.

“I’m very encouraged but he way we finished,” said Franklin (2-3) coach Dean O’Connor. “It looked like they might blow it open and we kept fighting. It would’ve been easy to quit, and we didn’t. We talked at halftime about just getting better. I think we did that in the second half. I’m not surprised that the kids kept fighting. We finished really strong, so that is something to build off moving forward.”

CBA made it a point to attack the interior of the Franklin defense early, matching up 6-foot-7 sophomore Pat Andree against 6-foot-6 Marcus Giese in the post. Andree got the better of that matchup, finishing with 16 points and 8 rebounds. The big man has range that can extend out to the three-point line, hitting two Saturday afternoon. Those kinds of skilled big men was something Franklin was not used to seeing and had to adjust to on the fly. CBA junior Jack Laffey added 19 points from the guard position

“The difficult thing with them is they have size at all positions and we’re not very big,” said O’Connor. “I really have two or three big guys, so they had us outsized at all positions. You try to work in front and then get help side but they make it tough because they have guys that can shoot too, so you do the best you can to try to work the ball in front and stop the ball from getting in there.”

With 5:30 to go in the game, CBA had a 20-point lead, but Franklin did not pack it in. It chipped away at the lead, and at one point switched to a full-court press that initially gave CBA fits.

“I think it was a lot faster, the pace of the gam up until that point was kind of slow,” said Franklin senior Dan McDermott. “It really sped everything up and I don’t know if they were ready for that so late in the game. After we were down by so much and came back, it kind of caught them off-guard.”

Staying to the end: O’Connor flirted with the idea of emptying his bench and getting more players playing time, but the game never got to a point where he felt it was necessary. Saturday was going to be a learning experience and an opportunity for his team to get better, and the only way to do that was to keep the team playing until the very end.

“It’s about focusing on getting better, and you have to play hard in order to do that,” he said. “There was a point there when it was getting close and both teams were looking to get some other guys in there that don’t play as much, but we tried to combine and mix some guys in there. Once we got the thing under 15 points, we said okay let’s press them and try to win. You can’t ever quit. The kids have too much pride.”

Tough two-game swing: It was the second game in as many days for Franklin. Coming into the weekend, it had suffered back-to-back losses, including a 32-point loss to Catholic Memorial. While it won only one its games, the team still felt like it learned a lot about itself.

“We learned we have a lot of guys that just want to work hard,” said senior captain Chris Rodgers (20 points, 5 rebounds). “You could see at the end, when we did our run and jump stuff with our press, everyone was playing hard and things were working for us. We learned that we can get up and defend a little bit, especially with our pressure defense.”

While it will go down as a loss in the record book, this could be remembered as one of those losses a team builds off and helps set it up for the rest of the season.

“This is definitely a positive weekend for us,” said Rodgers. “We split our games, but as a team we got better. That’s all that really matters. We might’ve found a little bit of an identity.”

Both of its games at the Shooting Touch were non-league games, so the loss does not hurt its standings in the Hockomock Kelly-Rex division.

Shooting Touch: No. 2 Mansfield 79, No. 24 Cathedral 45

December, 27, 2013
MEDFORD, Mass. -– Mansfield knocked down 13 three-pointers and out-rebounded Springfield Cathedral, 44-27, to dominate its Shooting Touch Shootout matchup, 79-45, on Friday afternoon at Tufts University. Senior point guard Rocky DeAndrade paced four Hornets in double-figures to lead all scorers with 21 points.

The dominance on the boards was surprising for the Hornets, who are missing two of their key post players in junior Brendan Hill and senior Kevin Conner. Head coach Mike Vaughan credited the rest of the team for recognizing the importance of stepping up on the glass.

“Surprisingly we’ve been pretty good on the boards all year. I think we realize that with Brendan going down and Kevin going down in the first few days of practice, we had to have a mindset that we have to rebound the ball with all five guys.”

[+] EnlargeDeAndrade_
Brendan Hall/ESPNRocky DeAndrade (21 points) and the Mansfield Hornets blitzed Cathedral for an easy 79-45 win at the Shooting Touch Shootout.
Mansfield trailed early 5-4 but then went on a 23-6 run to close out the first quarter. DeAndrade, Ryan Boulter (19 points), Michael Boen (15), and Kyle Wisnieski (14) all hit shots from beyond the arc during the run. Boen, who finished with 15 points, also added six of his game-high 14 rebounds in the opening quarter.

“He’s had double digits in the last couple of games and he’s really picked up the slack,” said Vaughan about Boen’s improvement from last season. “He’s playing tremendous. Right now, he’s our best overall player. He’s doing all the little things that don’t show up on the score sheet but he’s the difference between us being very good.”

The Hornets controlled Cathedral point guard Darrick Boyd, limiting him to just seven first half points (five of them from the free throw line), and kept senior forward Edens Jean-Baptiste off the boards. One of the keys to that was the defense of Ryan Boulter on the post.

Vaughan spoke highly of the leap that Boulter and Boen have made from their sophomore to junior seasons.

He remarked. “I think last year was their first full year of varsity so they were very passive and just wanted to fit in. This year, they’re playing like seniors. They’re making big plays. Boulter is still shooting the ball well but he’s added the dimension of going to the basket.”

According to DeAndrade there is confidence running up and down the Mansfield roster and the familiarity of last season’s run to the Division 1 state championship game has helped with ball movement.

“It’s all about being unselfish and getting the best look possible,” he explained. “We trust in each other to make the right plays. We have four guys that can get to the basket at any time and on top of that we have guys that can shoot the ball for us. It’s an inside-out game for us and it works.”

With a commanding 44-25 lead at halftime, the Hornets came out of the break a little sluggish and Cathedral took advantage. Boyd (13 points) knocked down a pair of threes and Jean-Baptiste (8) started to find room for layups. A floater by Brian McCrae had the Mansfield lead to as low as 15 but a three by DeAndrade and a step-back, corner three by Boen pushed it back to 21 going into the fourth.

Despite the sizeable lead, Vaughan laid into his team in between quarters. He wanted a stronger effort on the defensive side of the floor and, after a McCrae free throw, the Hornets responded with a 13-0 run to push the lead up to 33.

“You can never catch a break with Coach Vaughan; he always wants the best,” said DeAndrade with a smile after the game. “Once we do one thing very well then we need to do another thing and in this case it was defense.”

Vaughan explained, “Your bread and butter has to be defense. If you can’t defend teams, then when you go periods where you can’t score then you lose those games. If we want to play at the level that we want to play at then you have to defend and I thought we got really passive...In high school you can’t do that because, at some point, you’re going to get beat because of it.”

Mansfield will play again on Saturday night in the Shooting Touch Shootout against No. 16 Cardinal Spellman.

Shooting Touch: Franklin 55, No. 16 Spellman 48

December, 27, 2013
MEDFORD, Mass. -- Franklin started off its weekend as well as it could, with a 55-48 victory over No. 16 Cardinal Spellman Friday at the Shooting Touch Shootout.

It was just the kind of physical, back-and-forth win Franklin (3-2) needed coming off a 32-point loss to Catholic Memorial earlier in the week.

[+] EnlargeCardinals Spellman
Brendan Hall/ Senior guard Chris Rodgers (20 points, 13 rebounds) led Franklin to an upset of Cardinal Spellman in the Shooting Touch Shootout.
“Our No. 1 thing was that we would have to try and outwork them, which is a difficult task because they’re a hard working team,” said Panthers head coach Dean O’Connor. “We held our own as far as effort. Coming off the last two losses, we’re working on getting better. We’re really not focused on a game plan as much against a certain team. We’re just trying to get better this point in the year. We did show a lot of grit and heart. We were down six and the fourth quarter and came back, so hopefully that’s something to build off of.”

Franklin took a 27-23 lead into halftime, but it was not without its own self-inflicted issues. It regularly turned the ball over and seemed to be fighting the traveling bug in the first half. Six of its 17 turnovers came from traveling violations.

“That’s kind of been an issue the whole season,” said senior Chris Rodgers (20 points, 13 rebounds). “We’re still working on it. It should be something we can avoid, so we’ll just keep working on it in practice. That’s all we can do.”

Rodgers was a big reason why Spellman’s lead never got above six at any point in the game. His effectiveness on the boards prevented any Spellman second-chance opportunities and helped kick-start his team’s transition game.

“He was our second leading rebounder last year,” said O’Connor of Rodgers. “He’s gotten a lot better. His second jump is more explosive. At times he’s playing the four for us, even though he’s a two-guard. We can go with a small lineup, and we can do that because he can rebound.”

Offensively, he was a perfect 8-of-8 on free throws.

Franklin outscored Spellman 15-6 in the fourth quarter to walk away with the victory.

Spellman’s Joe Crane lead all scorers with 27 points. He was 6-of-7 from the free throw line.

Breaking Spellman's zone: Spellman spent the majority of the game in a form of a zone defense. To start the game, it extended its zone out to half court to try and pressure the Franklin guards.

“They were really extending out from all the guard spots,” said Rodgers. “What really helped us out was trusting our big men in the middle. Once they started making plays, we figured everything out and everything came together.”

Later, it slide back into a more traditional 2-3 zone to force Franklin to play its game on the perimeter.

“We did a good job of skipping the ball and then either taking the open shot or getting the defense to run out at us and playing from there,” said O’Connor. “If you keep it on one side against the zone, you’re in trouble. That was the key to getting some open looks. Most of our points were off rebounds or transition because they do such a good job in their matchup zone. We solved it a little bit, but I’m glad we don’t have to play it again.”

Hedge clippers: In the first quarter, Spellman attempted to set up its ball screen offense and get free cutters rolling to the basket. Franklin initially struggled to defend it, sometimes with both defenders committed to defend the ball handler and forgetting about the player cutting to the basket.

“Their big guys are good and they screen well,” said O’Connor. “You’re worried about Ryan Roach (3 points) and Austin Joseph (8 points) shooting the ball. We just weren’t rotating. They either got their guy to turn the corner (and go to the basket) or they were hitting the guy on the roll because we weren’t in the correct defensive position. In the second half, we got a little better at it. They didn’t get as many easy hoops off it.”

To get the ball handler to commit and make a decision with the ball, the defender guarding the screener jumped out and hedged to cut off the lane to the basket and to try and force the defender to pick up his dribble. That was when the screener would slide his way to the weak side post for an easy layup.

“We weren’t hedging very hard, so that was something we needed to work on, but once we started going that, they started getting those rolls” said Rodgers. “It really came together when we had the help side guys really helping out more.”

Up next: Franklin is back in action on Saturday for Day 2 of the Shooting Touch Shootout. It will take on Christian Brother’s Academy from Lincroft, New Jersey. The team knows next to nothing about its opponent.

“We don’t know much,” said Rodgers. “I know they have someone committed to play at Navy next year (Louie Pillari). We don’t know anything about them but we’ll just come out and play hard. That’s all we can do.”

Shooting Touch: No. 4 Medfield 71, Canberra (Australia) 35

December, 27, 2013
MEDFORD, Mass. -– On Friday morning, in the opening game of the Shooting Touch Shootout at Tufts University, defending Division 2 champion Medfield used its high-pressure defense to cruise 71-35 over Canberra Academy of Australia.

Right from the opening tip, Medfield’s trapping, pressure defense caused the Flames problems and Canberra struggled to get into its offense. A layup by Ashleigh Evans gave the visitors a 4-3 lead, but the Warriors then went on a 20-2 run to close out the first quarter.

[+] EnlargeLauren Petit
Josh Perry for Lauren Petit led the way with 23 points as No. 4 Medfield cruised past Canberra, Australia.
The run was highlighted by a trio of three-pointers by senior point guard Lauren Petit, who also added a pair of steals that led directly to layups. Petit finished the first quarter with 15 points on her way to a game-high 23.

Medfield head coach Mark Nickerson raved about his captain and her influence on the Warriors on both ends of the court.

“She’s so solid out there and she’s so strong with the basketball,” he explained. “For anyone that’s watching and paying attention, they know how important she is to us. I’ve said it for the past few years that I believe she’s one of the best players in the state. We’re just lucky to have her.”

The pressure continued into the second half, but Canberra started to get the ball underneath to forward Molly McPhee (13 points), who had three straight baskets in the middle of the quarter to cut the lead to 10 at 27-17.

The momentum was short-lived as, once again, Medfield clamped down on defense and went on a half-ending 19-3 run to essentially put the game away.

“It’s a lot different than how we play in Australia right now,” said Canberra head coach Gregory Evans, who noted that his team did not arrive from Australia until 8:30 last night.

He added, “A lot of the hands-on –- that’s a foul in Australia. It’s different rules and we sort of warned them about the physical side of things. I think we’ll get better as our trip goes.”

Nickerson remarked, “Our trapping defense took them out of it a little bit. I don’t know if they had seen it before or we just executed pretty well today.”

In addition to Petit, Medfield also got double digit scoring from senior forward Kristin Fechtelkotter (19 points) and junior forward Payton Ouimette (12). Most of the baskets came on transition opportunities off the pressure defense –- something that Nickerson noted was a focus of recent practices.

He explained, “That’s again something that we’ve been trying to focus on a little bit – moving the ball up quickly and try to see how few times the ball hits the court on the way up the floor. We got a few transition baskets, we also missed a few, but it was all good.”

Leading 46-20 at the half, Medfield did not let up in the third as it held the Flames to just four points in the quarter. Fechtelkotter added six points and Ouimette and Petit had four apiece in the third to build a 42-point advantage heading into the fourth, before sitting for the final quarter.

As the two teams gathered after the game for a photo to commemorate the trip and the rare opportunity to play a team from another country, Evans was upbeat about the game regardless of the result.

He commented, “It’s all about the experience. It’s just about getting here and playing. There’s a couple that are thinking of maybe later going to college here, so it’s an opportunity to look around. It’s great.”

Medfield will play its second game on Saturday afternoon against New Mission, while Canberra Academy will play Whittier Tech in the first game on Saturday morning.

Revised Shooting Touch Shootout Schedule

December, 23, 2013
Central Catholic was originally scheduled to face Jersey City, N.J. national power St. Anthony on the second day of the Shooting Touch Shootout, on Saturday, in a rematch of last year's thriller. But with the Raiders winning out this past weekend in the Commonwealth Motors Classic, putting them in a championship game scheduled for the same day, Shooting Touch President Justin Kittredge has fixed the schedule to accomodate.

Here is the revised schedule:

Friday, Dec. 27

10:30 a.m. Medfield vs. Canberra Academy (Australia)

12:15 p.m. - Cardinal Spellman vs. Franklin
2 p.m. - Mansfield vs. Springfield Cathedral
3:45 p.m. - Christian Brothers Academy (N.J.) vs. DeMatha Catholic (Md.)
5:30 p.m. - St. Anthony (N.J.) vs. Central Catholic
7:15 p.m. - St. Joe’s (N.J.) vs. Archbishop Wood (Pa.)

Saturday, Dec. 28

10 a.m. - Canberra Academy (Australia) vs. Whitter Tech
Noon - Medfield vs. New Mission

2 p.m. - Franklin vs. Christian Brothers Academy (N.J.)
3:45 p.m. - Archbishop Wood (Pa.) vs. Dematha Catholic (Md.)
5:30 p.m. - Mansfield vs. Cardinal Spellman
7 p.m. - St. Anthony (N.J.) vs. Charlestown
9 p.m. - St. Joe’s (N.J.) vs. New Mission

All tournament proceeds go back towards The Shooting Touch Sabbatical Program. Referred to as “The Basketball Peace Corps”, this program provides the opportunity for gifted college graduates to work in Rwanda, dedicating an entire year of service to using basketball as a catalyst for good.

Rematch for Central Cath., St. Anthony (N.J.) at Shooting Touch

July, 2, 2013
Shooting Touch, Inc. President Justin Kittredge confirmed to this morning that a rematch between Central Catholic and nationally-renowned juggernaut St. Anthony (N.J.) is set for this December, in the third annual Shooting Touch Shootout in Boston.

St. Anthony is an annual participant in the Shooting Touch Shootout, which matches up the MIAA's best squads against some of the nation's best high school basketball programs. Legendary St. Anthony head coach Bob Hurley, one of only three high school coaches inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, serves on the Board of Directors at Shooting Touch, a Boston-based nonprofit that uses the sport of basketball to positively impact the lives of children both on and off the court.

In the first installment of the Shooting Touch Shootout, in December 2011 at the Kroc Center in Dorchester, St. Anthony steamrolled through then-defending MIAA D2 state champion New Mission.

Last December, in the second installment at Emmanuel College, the Friars breezed by eventual D2 state champ Brighton on the first day of the tournament. But in the nightcap of the second and final day of the tournament, before a sellout crowd, Central Catholic gave the Friars a big scare, nearly snapping their nation-best 70-game win streak before falling 52-48.

Central went on to win the MIAA D1 North title before falling to Mansfield in the Eastern Mass Final, at TD Garden.

"I've always said let's play the best," Central head coach Rick Nault said. "To play a Bob Hurley-coached team...It was a challenge last year, a lot of fun, something the kids really looked forward to. Hopefully we can go out and play hard again, try to keep it close. We'll see what happens."

D.C. area power DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.) is also confirmed to play two games in the two-day event. No opponents are set yet for the Stags, though a source told that Boston City League stalwart New Mission is a possibility.

Other confirmed teams for the Shootout include Christian Brothers Academy (N.J.), Springfield Central and Charlestown.

On the girls side, New Mission and defending MIAA D2 state champ Medfield are confirmed so far.

No venue is set yet for the Shooting Touch Shootout.

Video: Recap from Shooting Touch Shootout

December, 29, 2012
BOSTON -- ESPN Boston High Schools editor Brendan Hall and former East Boston head coach Malcolm Smith break down tonight's finale of the Shooting Touch Shootout, at Emmanuel College's Yawkey Center:

Praise for James, Mission 'not scared' of Mansfield

December, 28, 2012
BOSTON -- Some notes and observations from day one of the Shooting Touch Holiday Shootout at Emmanuel College:

New Mission falls to CTK, 'Not scared' of Mansfield: New Mission took on Christ the King (N.Y.), who is the No. 1 ranked team in New York City, on Thursday night, and got a smack in the mouth from a much more experienced team.

The Royals, led by talented guards Jon Severe and Jordan Fuchs, had their way with the Titans on the perimeter. Severe especially, had a huge first half where we saw him get points at the free throw line, score around the rim, and knock down a couple deep three-pointers.

CTK appeared to be benefiting at times from long misses by New Mission on three-pointers – more often than not, the Royals would get the defensive rebound, get an outlet pass to Severe, and Severe used his quickness to fly past Titan defenders and make a play off the dribble.

New Mission played a 2-2-1 zone to try to limit CTK’s talented guards, but Severe was too much, especially in the second quarter.

“If we did a better job of containing him things would have worked out better for us," New Mission head coach Cory McCarthy said. "They aren’t that far ahead of us, but in terms of guard play they absolutely outplayed us."

The Titans struggled early on, missing their first eleven shots from the floor, yet were able to keep the game within four points by the end of the first quarter, explaining McCarthy’s cautious skepticism. New Mission had a size advantage down low on Christ the King, a point that McCarthy emphasized before the game to his players.

“They played us well, but they just capitalized off of our mistakes, and that was the point of working the ball inside so that we can get back in transition,” he said.

The Titans were rarely able to get back in transition; Severe was a wizard in the open floor and had superior strength and physical ability to any of New Mission’s guards.

Going forward though, McCarthy says there will be much more of a point of emphasis over the next couple days on getting the ball in the post. And understandably so, the Titans take on No. 4 Mansfield on Friday night and Windsor (Conn.) on Friday, who behind star guard Jared Wilson-Frame is widely considered as one of the top teams in the CIAC.

McCarthy was clear that the 80-54 loss to CTK was a turning point for his team, and that the Titans would need to learn from their mistakes in order to stay competitive during the toughest three-game stretch of any MIAA team this season.

“We didn’t play well tonight, but at the same time, we’re also not scared of Mansfield," McCarthy said. "All I hear is Mansfield, Mansfield, Mansfield, we’re not scared of them, we’re playing them no problem, and it will be a game. I’m already thinking about them...They’re an in-state team and everybody loves them.”

If McCarthy’s comments are any type of foreshadowing as to the type of game we may see on Friday between the No. 8 Titans and fourth-ranked Mansfield, then this could end up being the best game of the year to date.

Romanko leading by example: Speaking of Mansfield, the Hornets had a tough game of their own on Thursday, taking on Amityville (N.Y.) in the opening game of the shootout.

Amityville, led by smooth-scoring guard Travis Dickerson, did a nice job early on of pressuring Mansfield’s ball handlers, jumping out to an early lead. But the combination of halftime adjustments and ridding of nerves helped the Hornets get back in the game late in the third quarter.

The game was back-and-forth the entire fourth quarter, ending in a 52-all tie, but senior captain Greg Romanko absolutely took over the overtime period, carrying his team to a victory over a very talented Amityville squad. Romanko did it all in overtime: he scored off the dribble, took contact and got to the free throw line, and even banked in a three-pointer; he scored 10 of Mansfield’s 13 points in overtime.

"He’s done all the little things we’ve been asking him to do, rebounding the ball, playing good [defense],” Mansfield Coach Mike Vaughn said. “He’s a big difference-maker when he’s playing in a rhythm, he’s a guy who early on [in the game] I was disappointed, but like any other high school kid he was able to pull it together and finish on an extremely high note.”

In addition to leading through his scoring, Vaughn also had high praise of how Romanko, and all of Mansfield’s seniors, have mentored the Hornets’ talented sophomores: the highly-touted forward Brendan Hill, as well as forwards Michael Boen and Ryan Boulter

“We have three really good sophomores between [Hill], Boen, and Bolter,” he said, “We’ve got good juniors, and we’ve got seniors who are playing this with everything they have.”

St. Anthony continues dominance, lauds James: Bob Hurley has won 69 consecutive games as coach at St. Anthony (N.J.). The nationally-renowned Hurley has won over one-thousand games at the Catholic school powerhouse, and it looks as if the Friars will be back once again this year with a talented offensive machine.

The Friars dominated No. 14 Brighton from start to finish, opening the game on a 20-0 run and gradually adding to their lead from there. Led by Oregon State commit Hallice Cooke and Temple commit Josh Brown, the Friars were able to wear down Brighton star point guard Malik James, making sure that he was rarely able to get an open look.

“[James] is an outstanding young player,” Hurley said. “We put a really good on the ball defender, Josh Brown, on him to start, and I told [Brown] that we were going to throw the kitchen sink at [James], and force the other kids to have to make plays.”

Hurley admits that his team had a long way to go after last season, and they still do, after graduating all-american guard Kyle Anderson, who is now making a splash for Ben Howland at UCLA. The Friars often relied on the talented Anderson to make plays on his own, but they will rely much more on their offensive system this year – a system that was flawless all game long against Brighton.

Hurley’s team is ranked in the top 10 of the ESPN top 25, but according to Hurley they still have some way to go in terms of making adjustments on the fly.

“When you come in and you don’t know anything about the opponent...When people switch[on screens] we have to recall what we’re doing, or when the shotclock is ticking it kind of speeds the game up a little bit,” he said.

Brighton finding an identity: Hugh Coleman’s Brighton squad has been an enigma this year, coming up with an impressive win over New Mission last week, but suffering head-scratching losses to a Needham team with size and a Charlestown team that is even more of an enigma that Brighton has been so far.

“We just have to getter both ways,” Coleman said, “[St. Anthony] got up 20 to zip on us and they got everything they wanted. We have to find where the holes are and try to improve on it.”

Brighton took their lumps over the course of their 78-42 dismantling at the hands of the Friars, but they will have a couple of great opportunities over the next couple days to prove that they’re the real deal. The Bengals will take on a hungry Cambridge squad tomorrow at the BABC Holiday Classic, followed by a showdown with University (CT), one of Connecticut’s most talented teams.

Coleman’s team has had identity issues so far this year, but he’s confident that this week can help his team establish that identity going forward.

“For whatever reason, we haven’t found that click yet, and we’re looking for it. We’re trying to see if we can use this loss as a launching pad and get re-focused for the second half of the year.”

Recap: Christ The King (N.Y.) 80, Mission 54

December, 27, 2012
BOSTON -- With one glance at this season’s New Mission High School basketball schedule, even a novice observer knew its toughest stretch of games would be between Christmas and the start of 2013.

The Titans kicked off game one of a three games in three days stretch by losing 80-54 to Christ the King (N.Y.) Thursday in the Shooting Touch Shootout at Emmanuel College.

[+] EnlargeNew Mission
Jon Mahoney for ESPNBoston.comIsshiah Coleman (23) and New Mission showed good signs in spurts, but could not overcome N.Y. powerhouse Christ The King.
The Titans (3-2) now move on to play Mansfield Friday on Day Two of the Shootout, and then face off against Windsor (Conn.) Saturday at the BABC Holiday Classic, at New Mission High School.

Mission had a rough first quarter and struggled to get a shot to fall. With 2:23 left in the quarter, Christ the King (4-1) had a 13-2 lead. Then the team went on a 13-6 run over the remaining minutes to end the quarter down only four points (17-13).

“What happened was they had nine offensive rebounds in that first quarter, which was what they scored off of,” said Christ the King coach Joe Arbitello. “We held them to one offensive rebound in the second quarter, and that was the difference in the game right there.”

Because the offensive rebounding differential changed so much in the second quarter, Christ the King was able to get out in transition and create odd-man opportunities and easy baskets, which allowed its lead to grow. It went into halftime up 41-27.

“We just didn’t execute the way we needed to,” said New Mission coach Cory McCarthy. “We usually find ways to get the ball inside, but we just could not get the ball inside the way we wanted to. Our guards decided they wanted to be the show, but that’s not New Mission basketball. Your guards can’t run the show with a team this sized.”

“They played well, they just capitalized off our mistakes,” he added. “That’s the point of us getting the ball inside: if you get the ball inside, you get back better in transition. Once you start shooting the ball, they get long rebounds.”

It doesn’t help when the other team has a 6-foot-10, 260-pound center clogging the paint. Adonis Delarosa was able to effect the game without scoring a single point. He missed the one field goal and both free throws he attempted, but still came down with 12 rebounds and blocked 4 shots.

His presence inside prevented Mission from getting the ball to its two tallest players, Nate Anderson (two points, two rebounds) and Chima Ebele (12 points, six rebounds) as much as it wanted to. Even when the guards tried to take it inside themselves, Delarosa was able to use his physicality and long reach to alter shots.

It doesn’t help when the other team is shooting the ball effectively from the three-point line. Jon Severe (23 points, 3-of-5 from 3-point range), Malik Harmon (13 points, 2-of-3 from 3), and others happily took jump shots against Mission’s 2-2-1 zone. When the defensive schematic switch was made, it was to try and create more ball pressure and hopefully create turnovers to get back in the game. Instead, the guards just shot around it.

Christ the King ran away with the game in the second half, never allowing its lead to get under double digits.

Severe-ly Outmatched: Christ the King has multiple players that have garnered varying levels of interest from Division 1 colleges. Jordan Fuchs (12 points, 5 rebounds) and Severe grade out the highest in the ESPN Recruiting Nation database, but it was Severe who most caught New Mission’s eye.

“Severe was the problem,” said McCarthy. “The thing with Severe was that he wasn’t a guy we were really focused on initially, but he put us on notice at the end of the first half. I don’t know what he ended up with, but I know he had 20 in the first half. I think if we did a better job in the first half of containing him, things definitely would’ve worked out better for us.

“This is obviously a situation where, they aren’t that far ahead of us, but I think in terms of guard play, they outplayed us tonight. We got what we wanted inside, but definitely they outplayed our guards. They were stronger, they were tougher, and they brought stronger help.”

No Details, No Problem: Christ The King came into Thursday knowing very little of what New Mission had to offer as a team. With little to no opportunity to scout them in person, the team relied on other methods to gather information on its opponent.

“We just tried to match up our players,” said Arbitello. “I’m not going to say I was completely blindsided this time. I know some people in Boston, and I looked at a couple of websites. I actually looked at ESPN Boston because you guys cover the city area pretty good. So I was just looking at things like that, seeing who is scoring, seeing who is doing what.”

“We knew very little about them,” he added. “I knew they were going to play tough, I knew they were going to try to get it off the glass, and I knew Juwan Gooding is a pretty good player.”

Recap: St. Anthony (N.J.) 78, Brighton 42

December, 27, 2012
BOSTON —- Bob Hurley and his St. Anthony basketball team must really like making the trip North to Boston.

The Friars continued a dominating run through the Shooting Touch Shootout —- in its second year of existence —- with a smothering defensively fueled 78-42 victory over Brighton on Thursday night at the Jean Yawkey Center on the campus of Emmanuel College.

[+] EnlargeMalik James
Jon Mahoney for ESPNBoston.comBrighton's Malik James drew praise from St. Anthony (N.J.) coach Bob Hurley, but overall the Bengals struggled.
St. Anthony dismantled New Mission last season in the inaugural Shooting Touch Shootout by 40 points and the score against the Bengals (2-3) felt larger than the 38-point margin. Kody Jenkins led the Friars with 20 points, while Tim Coleman added 14 off the bench.

“They missed a lot of 3s early and if those shots are going in then this could be a little different early,” said Hurley. “They got that little run going. They hit a couple and all of a sudden they started to go, but then we banged a bunch in a row.”

The small run that Hurley Sr. alluded to was in the beginning of the second quarter, but the game was just about well in hand for the Friars after a 20-0 start to begin the game by the powerhouse from New Jersey.

Brighton switched to a 3-2 zone and forced St. Anthony to bleed the shot clock down and try and penetrate the defense. The Friars couldn’t get anything going towards the hoop and they settled for a couple of bad possessions as the Bengals tried to get things going with a 7-3 run.

The Friars waited to dissect the new defense and instead of pounding the ball around the perimeter with the dribble, they zipped passes in and out of the zone and ripped off 13 straight points to take a 36-9 lead and basically end the game.

“Coming in we didn’t really know the opponent. This is our fourth game and we are a work in progress,” said Hurley. “When people switch we had to recall what we are doing.”

Simpson a bright spot: There wont’ be too many positives to come out of this one for the Bengals. One, however, will be the play of Nick Simpson in the second half. With Malik James doing the best that he could to break the ball pressure of Josh Brown, and seemingly every Friars’ perimeter defender, blanketing the talented Bengals point guard.

Simpson scored 16 of his 21 points in the second half and showed off the deep ball with four 3s in the final 16 minutes of play.

But Simpson’s offensive woes were overshadowed by the troubles of the rest of the team. The Bengals shot 28.3 percent from the field in the game and were held under 20 percent from the floor as they faced a 41-12 deficit at the break.

“It was a tough one, but we got to the drawing board,” said Brighton head coach Hugh Coleman. “We take positives out of it and we build on it.”