Boston High School: Steve Harrington

Watertown improved to 9-3 on the season following last night's 50-38 win over Middlesex League foe Reading. But more importantly, it was a big milestone for long-time head coach Steve Harrington, who notched his 300th career win in his 20th season.

Harrington, a Wakefield native, now sits at a 300-145 overall record, with all the wins coming at Watertown. The Raiders have found much success in the last decade or so, making three MIAA Division 3 State Final appearances (2007, 2009, 2010), with titles in 2007 and 2009.

"It's just something I'm proud of, for the No. 1 fact that I've been in one spot up to now, it's all happened in Watertown," Harrington said. "I'm blessed to have such great players and great coaches that have coached with me, and it's all been done in a place that I really love, which is the town of Watertown. You get there [the milestone] because of your players, and also because of longevity.

"To be there for 20 years now, it surprises a lot of people. They say 'How long have you been there? 10-12 years?' I tell them 'No, 20', they're surprised by that. By staying there that long, to reach a mark like that as a program, I'm very proud of that."

The milestone is much a statement on his longevity as it is the unorthodox fashion he's done it in. As one of the smallest schools in the Middlesex League, which is top-heavy on Division 1 and 2 size schools, the Raiders have often had to do more with less.

Harrington's patented four-out system often relies on one post player cleaning up for a slew of shooters spaced along the perimeter, a style that made superstars out of greats like Bobby Murgo, Max Kerman, brothers Anthony and Marco Coppola, and twins Cory and Kyle Stockmal. But often, the Raiders were undersized -- in the state championship years of 2007 and 2009, for instance, Watertown's tallest player was 6-foot-3.

It's this method of strategy, making advantages out of disadvantages, that reinforces Harrington's regard as one of the state's best basketball minds.

"In Watertown, being a smaller school, you have to develop something to compete with the bigger schools in the [Middlesex] League," Harrington said. "We're not going to compete with traditional way, as far as having a point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward and center. We're gonna compete by playing differently, and ultimately that became the use of the three-point line, pressing and playing smaller against opponents."

Boston Warriors to host 'College Night'

May, 27, 2012
5/27/12
11:51
AM ET
The Boston Warriors will hold its Fourth Annual "College Showcase Night" to showcase all of its juniors and sophomores, as well as some uncommitted seniors, Wednesday night at Kennedy Middle School in Waltham.

The evening is setup as a showcase style event for college coaches, as well as prep school coaches, to check out the players. The evening will begin with 45 minutes of individual skill work with the players split up between big men and guards and wing players.

Warriors Director Mark Papas forwards along some more information regarding the events, as well as players to watch:



1. Dragan Skoko, former Radford College star, will work out the big men.

2. Steve Harrington, two-time Massachusetts State Championship coach at Watertown High, will work out the guards and wing players.

The last 75 minutes, all of the players will be split up to run five-on-five games on both courts in front of the college and prep school coaches in attendance.

Here is a preliminary list of the top players who will be in attendance:

Max Risch, 6-6 Sr., Old Rochester/Williston-Northampton
Nate Anderson, 6-6 Jr., New Mission
Tyler Gibson, 6-6 Jr., Rockland
Isshiah Coleman, 6-5 Jr., New Mission
Peter Rankowitz, 6-2 Jr., Staples (Conn.)
Matt Droney, 6-4 Sr., Catholic Memorial/Taft (Conn.)
Joseph Carty, 6-6 Jr., Natick
Nick Tarantino, 6-7 Soph., BB&N
Greg Bridges, 5-9 Fr., New Mission
Nick Simpson, 6-3 Soph., Brighton
Shaquan Murray, 6-0 Soph., New Mission
Kyle Howes, 6-2 Soph., Lawrence Academy
Matt Ozzella, 6-4 Jr., Medway
Theo Oribhabor, 6-1 Jr., Brighton
Nick McKenna, 6-1 Jr., Danvers
Chris Murray, 6-1 Jr., Littleton
Joseph Lally, 6-1 Jr., Westwood
Connor McLeod, 6-2 Jr., Needham
John Mastascusa, 6-4 Jr., Malden Catholic
Matthew Prokop, 6-4 Jr., Boston Collegiate
Randy Glenn, 5-10 Fr., New Mission
William Baker, 5-10 Sr., Brockton
Daivon Edwards, 5-10 Jr., Brighton
Chad Thomas, 6-7 Jr., Watertown
Tony Alexander, 6-4 Jr., Boston Prep
Alex Sugarman, 6-7 Jr., Concord-Carlisle
Fred Rivers, 6-5 Soph., New Mission
Jaylen Blakely, 5-10 Soph., Brockton
Kordell Harris, 5-10 Soph., New Mission
Nick Lynch, 6-6 Soph., Westford


Boston Warriors showcase tomorrow night

May, 30, 2011
5/30/11
5:06
PM ET
Tomorrow at 7 p.m. at Waltham High School, the Boston Warriors AAU program will hold its 3rd Annual College Showcase Night to showcase its juniors and sophomores, as well as several uncommitted seniors.

The evening will begin with 45 minutes of individual skill work, with the players split up between big men and guards. Former Providence College and Atlanta Hawks star Troy Brown will be working the big men; Watertown High coach Steve Harrington, a two-time MIAA state champion coach, will be working out the wings and guards.

The last 75 minutes all of the players will be split up to run five-on-five games on both courts, in front of the college and prep school coaches on in attendance. Below is the preliminary list of players expected to be in attendance:

Kachi Nzerem, 6-5, New Mission / Marianapolis
Nate Anderson, 6-6, New Mission
Kenny Reed, 5-10, Reading
Matt Droney, 6-4, Catholic Memorial
Max Risch, 6-6, Old Rochester
Jared Lewis, 6-3, Malden Catholic
Jordan Lewis, 6-1, Malden Catholic
Corey Gomes, 6-6, Uxbridge
Abiodun Akanni, 6-4, Fitchburg
Ryan Jann, 6-3, Westford Academy
Jerry Ellis-Williams, 6-5, Reading
Tyson Hallowell, 6-2, Middlesex
Sam Musler, 5-11, Belmont
Isshiah Coleman, 6-5, New Mission
Leroy Hamilton, 6-3, New Mission
Anthony Bell, 5-10, Boston Cathedral
Tony Alexander, 6-3, Boston Prep
Kyle Howes, 6-1, Maynard
Chris Murray, 6-1, Littleton
Joseph Connelly, 6-1, Beaver Country Day
Mark Melanson, 6-2, Burlington
Patrick McHugh, 6-4, Watertown
Isaac Carp, 5-10, Pingree
Ben Lawhorn, 6-3, Lincoln-Sudbury
Terrence Manning, 5-10, St Rafael's (R.I.)
Mario Payne, 6-0, Lincoln-Sudbury

WC survives W'Town to win D3 state title

March, 19, 2011
3/19/11
10:44
PM ET



WORCESTER, Mass. -- The trophy room at the Bajema household just got a new piece of hardware added to the collection.

Taylor Bajema had a team-high 14 points to help head coach Jeff Bajema and Whitinsville Christian (23-2) grab the Div. 3 boys state championship with a 42-36 win over Watertown (19-6) on Saturday at the DCU Center.

The elder Bajema was an assistant coach on the Crusaders team that last won the state title in 2005. He said he stepped down as head coach that season because he didn’t want to coach two of his sons, Mitch and Brady, on the same team.

But now having three of his sons holding trophies, plus his as the assistant and a head coach, is something special for the whole family.

“I don’t have anymore kids,” said Jeff Bajema with a wide smile. “They all have a title, so that was kind of cool today to have Taylor be on a title team too.”

Taylor was in sixth-grade when he watched his brother Mitch fuel the Crusaders six years ago, and he was looking forward to having the most recent bragging rights at the Bajema dinner table.

“I’m probably going to rub it in his face a little, but he’s got one too,” said Taylor Bajema. “He’s got one too, so there’s not much I can do.”

The Crusaders game plan coming in to the game was to feed the 6-foot-9-inch Hans Miersma the ball as many times as possible. But the Raiders had other ideas.

Watertown head coach Stephen Harrington unleashed heavy pressure in the backcourt, which never allowed Miersma to get set on the low block. The attacking press also forced the Crusaders to turn the ball over 22 times in the game.

“They full court press you and they are really quick guards,” said Taylor Bajema. “They get up in your face and they just try to annoy you the whole time. They do a great job of it.”

In the first quarter, the Crusaders had more turnovers (eight) than they had points (seven).

But for as poorly as they did holding on to the ball, they made up for it with its defense of the Red Raiders 3-point shooters. After Watertown got three first quarter three-pointers from Cory Donahue, the Red Raiders only hit three more for the rest of the game.

Harrington’s bunch finished 6-for-39 from behind the arc and only finished 5-for-15 from the rest of the field. Marco Coppola, one of the premier shooters in Eastern Mass., finished with 15 points and only hit one three in 13 tries.

“We thought about going man, but they are so much smaller than us and it would probably be hard matchups on the perimter,” said Miersma. “We decided to play zone and it worked really well. We were always spotting (Coppola) to try and make sure we knew where he was on the court.”

The cold shooting didn’t keep the Raiders out of the game completely. Watertown was within four with less tan a minute left to go in the game, but Peter Koopman, who threw away a pass on the previous possession, jumped path of a Coppola pass to help take home the win.

“Their length makes you shoot it quicker,” said Harrington. “If we hit a few more maybe it would have been a different game.”


ESPNBoston's Hoops Finals Picks

March, 18, 2011
3/18/11
3:53
PM ET
We've got you covered from the first tip-off to the final buzzer tomorrow at Worcester's DCU Center, home of six MIAA basketball state championships. But for now, to whet your appetite, here's high school editor Brendan Hall's picks for each of the six games.

DIVISION 3 GIRLS: LEE (24-1) VS. ST. MARY'S OF LYNN (23-4)
The Lowdown: In a season of relative unknowns in Division 3, the Wildcats of Lee dominated Western Mass again, albeit to nobody's surprise. Puncutated by wins over Division 1 finalist Amherst and Division 3 juggernaut Sabis (which was averaging nearly 70 points per game before falling in the D3 West final to Lee), the Wildcats are at it again with that famously dogged press of theirs. Always undersized yet always relentless, they blitzed Pentucket a year ago on the DCU floor en route to their sixth state title in 20 years, and could be up to their same old tricks tomorrow morning. St. Mary's, meanwhile, has size all over the place, led by the senior "Twin Towers" of 6-foot-2 center Tori Faieta and 5-foot-11 forward Cassi Amenta. The Spartans beat Lee a month ago, 71-60, in a tournament just before the start of the MIAA playoffs.
Hall's Pick: History says to never take Lee lightly -- no matter what shape or size it comes in. But unfortunately, there is just too much size to be accounted for on St. Mary's side of things. Not that they're unbeatable, but I just think the Spartans will control the glass. St. Mary's, 50-45.

DIVISION 3 BOYS: WHITINSVILLE CHRISTIAN (22-2) VS. WATERTOWN (19-5)
The Lowdown: Another matchup that on paper looks uneven, the Whitinsville Christian Crusaders boast plenty of size behind 6-foot-9 Hans Miersma, who dominated Lenox in Wednesday night's Central/West semifinal. Meanwhile, Watertown's tallest player is 6-foot-3 senior forward Connor Stockdale -- whom head coach Steve Harrington likens to another point guard on the floor -- and Marco Coppola, one of the state's leading scorers with 25 points per game. Whitinsville excels in the 2-3 zone but isn't afraid to quickly drop it and play straight man should they get into early trouble. But this is Harrington's Raiders, which means you're likely to see four things: weakside post, four out, pick and roll, perimeter shots. In other words, don't take the Raiders lightly, especially if they don't try to challenge Miersma immediately at the rim.
Hall's Pick: The tale of the tape favors Whitinsville, just based on the size it wields in the frontcourt. But Steve Harrington is one of the best coaches in New England, and you can guarantee he's going to draw up a hell of a game plan to try and neutralize the size advantage. Whitinsville Christian, 65-64.

DIVISION 2 GIRLS: ARLINGTON CATHOLIC (20-6) VS. MILLBURY (23-1)
The Lowdown: The Arlington Catholic Cougars -- led by Emma Roberson, Nicole Catizone, and sisters Rachel and Maura Buckley -- can be viewed as a green bunch with all of their youth abound. But on Monday night at TD Garden, they pulled off one of the more impressive feats in recent EMass Finals history, clawing back from 18 down with six minutes left in the first half to take a halftime lead over Hopkinton and hold it up. Meanwhile, Millbury has burned opponents in the transition game all season long, beating opponents in the playoffs so far by an average of 16.5 points per game. Out on the break, seniors Julie Frankian (19.1 points, 8.3 rebounds) and Sydney Bloomstein (9.5, 6.1) have been as formidable duo as we've seen in Division 2.
Hall's Pick: Sorry, AC. That was an amazing comeback you pulled over Hopkinton over the Garden. But this is Julie Frankian's moment in the sun. Millbury, 60-48.

DIVISION 2 BOYS: NORTHBRIDGE (20-5) VS. NEW MISSION (21-4)
The Lowdown: Mission was the odds-on favorite in Division 2 headed into the season, and hasn't done a whole lot to convince otherwise. Led by three Northeast-10 ready senior guards in Samir McDaniels, Kachi Nzerem and Darius Davis; as well as Charles Gunter, Leroy Hamilton, and Isshiah Coleman on the blocks; the Titans have begun to find that scoring touch around the rim that was missing for stretches this season. They also like to wear opponents out with a smothering, physical man-to-man defense -- as head coach Cory McCarthy often tells reporters, "The uglier, the better." Good news for the Titans: Northbridge relishes in that style, too. Eight of its players were on the Rams squad that won a Division 2 football Central Mass Super Bowl this past fall, and have brought that aggressive mentality to the floor with forwards (and brothers) Thomas and Harrison Murphy. Also watch out for Corey Pryor, who burned Sabis on Wednesday night with a series of uncontest layups en route to 24 points.
Hall's Pick: Cory McCarthy is known to fill up a reporter's notebook fairly quickly with his endless arsenal of money quotes. But the one that still resonates above the rest is the one he gave our correspondent Adam Kurkjian back in December: "I love these kids. I would do anything for these kids. And I feel like they will eat glass for me." Remember that one if this is close in the waning minutes. Mission, 58-47.

DIVISION 1 GIRLS: ANDOVER (26-1) VS. AMHERST (22-2)
The Lowdown: Amherst, written off the in preseason after the transfer of Mariah Lesure to Tabor Academy, has rolled through Western Mass, and arrives in Worcester after a thrilling overtime defeat of Algonquin in Tuesday's Central/West state semifinal. Much of the Hurricanes' emergence has to do with the maturation of their junior class led by Brianna Leonard (11.1 points), Morbasaw Nkambeo (10.0) and Kristen Ferrola (9.3). The Golden Warriors, meanwhile, were one of several heavy favorites in Division 1 headed into the season, and save a lone regular-season blip to Central Catholic have done nothing to deter that thinking. Much has been made of Andover's Division 1-ready backcourt led by Marist-bound senior Natalie Gomez-Martinez and BC-bound junior Nicole Boudreau, the state's newly-anointed Gatorade Player of the Year. But the Warriors excel on the boards, too, behind junior Ally Fazio and sophomore Devon Caveney.
Hall's Pick: At the risk of jinxing this...should Andover win, I don't think it's out of the realm to think the Warriors have a shot next season at making it the first Division 1 girls three-peat since Haverhill in the mid-90's. Long Live The MVC. Andover, 70-60.

DIVISION 1 BOYS: ST. JOHN'S PREP (24-1) VS. ST. JOHN'S OF SHREWSBURY (21-5)
The Lowdown: After the loss of Ryan Kelley (ACL tear) and stalemate of a Central Final defeat of Fitchburg (40-38), some questioned whether Shrewsbury was ripe for the picking. The Pioneers put an end to that doubt on Wednesday night, handling a talented Northampton squad with physical defense and clutch shooting from Matt Harrington. Head coach Bob Foley is known for his Princeton-ish offense, this year led by forward pivots Matt Palecki and Richard Rodgers, but we've seen the Pioneers transition teams to death in state championships past (Lynn English, 2009, anyone?). This marks the fourth straight D1 final appearance for SJS, while Prep is making its first appearance since 1974. The matchup of the day might be Pat Connaughton versus Rodgers (we'll just assume that's what Prep head coach Sean Connolly will do for now), but the Eagles have prided themselves all year long on the work of their role players. Every game, it's a different kid stepping up, between Steve Haladyna, Freddy Shove, Mike Carbone, Owen Marchetti and Isaiah Robinson.
Hall's Pick: It's going to be a rockfight on the court, and both student sections are going to be rocking out. And I do mean rocking. I literally can't wait. By the way, every high school fan ever, you've got your work cut out for you after Northampton's "Full Metal Jacket" routine the other night at DCU. Prep, 45-41.

Coppola puts on clinic, W'Town back in DCU

March, 15, 2011
3/15/11
8:07
PM ET



BOSTON -- It could not hit a shot for the first four minutes of the game, but once it did, Watertown put on a textbook performance against Cardinal Spellman in the Division 3 State semi-finals, 56-36.

Watertown (19-5) came out of the gate cold, finding difficulty in hitting even a layup. In the latter part of the quarter, it picked up its defensive intensity, which in turn sparked its offensive game, and lead 14-9 after the opening frame.

“I think we were a little bit jittery playing out there,” said Marco Coppola (26 points, 5 rebounds, 5 steals). “I know me and Connor (Stockdale) have played out there before but some of the other guys haven’t. Once we settled in and adjusted to the court and really picked up the defensive pressure, we were alright.”

Stockdale, the 6-foot-3 senior, finished with only 5 points, but made most of his impact on defense, finishing with 6 rebounds, 3 steals, and a block.

Coppola initially had a difficult time shooting from long range, but found success going to the basket and creating his shot of the dribble. When he finally hit his first three-pointer with a minute to go in the second half, Watertown already had a double-digit lead thanks to its defensive effort.

“It was a good team effort,” said Coppola. “The whole tournament has been about defense for us and I think that was the story for us tonight. The points just come.”

At halftime, it was ahead 27-16 and playing the high-energy, defensive-minded style that epitomizes Watertown basketball. When the third quarter started, it had stretched the lead even more, but also stayed true to the defensive side of the ball. Spellman (20-5) only scored six points in the third. In contrast, Watertown scored 20, including 3 three-pointers, to take a 47-22 lead into the fourth.

“It’s been like that the whole tournament for us, coming out at halftime,” said Coppola. “Once we have a lead we know to just put it on them in the third quarter and that kind of demoralizes teams.”

The Raiders will now look to take that same defensive intensity to the Division 3 State Finals Saturday against the winner of tomorrow night's Central/West semifinal between Whitinsville Christian and Lenox at the DCU Center.

“The guys are so smart, their rotations are so good (on defense) that it looks like you’re doing a good job as a coach, but a lot of it is them,” said Watertown coach Steve Harrington. “They have such great basketball IQ that on the defensive end they just make up for each other, they rotate well, and they’re just ball hawks.”

“It’s the fourth game in a row in the tournament we’ve held someone in the 30’s. I think the difference was tonight we separated because we made some shots. Once we made some shots, it made it kind of difficult for Cardinal Spellman to get back in it.”

As a team, Watertown had 16 steals, making it difficult for the Cardinals to get anything going on the offensive end.

Joey Glynn lead the way for Cardinal Spellman with 13 points and 10 rebounds.

“They knew what they had to do and they came and they did it,” said Spellman coach Mike Perry. “They’ve been here a couple times when they were younger, and they did a real nice job.”

“It wasn’t the best game in the world for us, but I have nothing but praise for my kids. Ya, you’re disappointed, but what they accomplished to this point, I really didn’t know if we could get here.”


Mission, Winthrop, W'Town win North crowns

March, 13, 2011
3/13/11
12:20
AM ET
LOWELL, Mass. -- After Brighton cut New Mission’s double-digit third quarter lead down to two in the final frame, New Mission head coach Cory McCarthy was not nervous that his his team was losing momentum and could give up the lead.

His team rewarded him with a 56-54 down-to-the-wire victory, in the Division 2 North Sectional Final Saturday afternoon at the Tsongas Center.

“At no point did I think our seniors would let us lose that game,” McCarthy said. “We’ve been working too hard and had this vision for a long time. It takes a lot of guts to move from Division 4 to Division 2, and it paid off because these guys worked hard. They’re just winners. When you have that type of commitment to the game of basketball, the game will reward you every single time.”

New Mission (20-4) had a 33-23 lead at halftime after going on a 12-4 run in the last five minutes of the second quarter. They had a sluggish third quarter, and an at-the-buzzer three from Brighton’s Ronald Mack brought the deficit down to six points, 45-39.

When it appeared like the metaphorical wheels could be falling off for New Mission, its free throw shooting came through for them. Kachi Nzerem was particularly effective from the charity stripe for the Titans, converting 12-of-13 in the game.

As a team, New Mission was 26-of-34 from the line. Conversely, Brighton (14-6) was a mere 3-of-16. Even with the startling deficiency, Brighton was able to use its height to grab offensive rebounds, create second-chance points, and hit timely three-point shots to keep the game close.

“We knew they were going to come back, that’s just the heart of their team,” McCarthy said. “We knew it was going to come down to the final seconds, with free throws and we pulled it out.”

Bernadin St. Vil was a force underneath for the Bengals, grabbing 13 rebounds before fouling out with 2:45 remaining and his team down by three points, 51-48.

“We had to play good defense because they’re a great rebounding team,” Nzerem said. “We had to limit their second-chance points so good defense was key in this game.”

With effective defense down the stretch by New Mission, Brighton was never able to tie the game up. It was forced to foul in the waning seconds, but Nzerem converted the necessary free throws, allowing New Mission to take the championship home.

The win capped off an already successful afternoon for New Mission, which won the girls Division 4 North Championship in the preceding game over Fenway.

D4 Boys: Winthrop 55, St. Mary's (Lynn) 40

The fourth time was the charm for the Winthrop Vikings.

After having lost in the Division 4 North State Sectional Finals the past three years, they finally got over the hump Saturday, beating St. Mary’s of Lynn 55-40.

“We paid our dues,” Winthrop head coach David Brown said. “I told the team in practice that St. Mary’s is a very good basketball team. There was a lot of emotion involved in the game tonight, but we paid our dues. This team wanted it bad and they took it over in the end.”

St. Mary’s (17-7) did not hit a shot for the first five and a half minutes of the first quarter, which allowed Winthrop (18-6) to open up a 10-0 lead. After it finally got its first basket, it scored three more after that, cutting the Winthrop lead to 10-8.

“Getting that lead was huge, but losing it was bad for us,” said Taj Gennerazo (13 points). “The fact that we got it let us know what we were capable of.”

The two teams battled back and forth for the next two quarters, with Winthrop holding a distinct advantage on the glass. Quinton Dale, a 6-foot-3 junior, finished with 17 points to go along with 12 rebounds. Anthony Hatzisavas, its 6-foot-4 center, also contributed 10 boards.

“(Dale) is a kid that’s been averaging 18 points and 15 rebounds for the tournament, I told him he had to step up his game a little bit in the second half,” Brown said. “This is a kid that’s playing varsity for the first time this year. He was averaging 13 (points) and 10 (rebounds) for the season. He really took up his game, made some shots and got some rebounds that were key.”

“We earned this,” Dale said. “Coach kept telling us we paid our dues and finally it came through after four years.”

With four minutes to go and St. Mary’s down by nine points, Matt Manning fouled out of the game. Up to that point, he was a critical piece to the St. Mary’s offense with nine points and seven rebounds. Only Nick Gagliolo, who had 11 points, reached double-digits for the Spartans.

J.P. Doherty added 8 points for Winthrop, including 6-of-7 from the free throw line.

Winthrop will play Cohasset at the TD Garden next Tuesday for the right to move on to the state finals.

“We were willing to give our lives to go to the Garden, and we’re here, and now we’re going to win it all,” Gennerazo said.

D3 Boys: Watertown 55, Newburyport 31

Watertown rode stout defense and a second half surge by senior Marco Coppola to beat Newburyport 55-31 in the Division 3 Sectional finals, to earn a return trip to the TD Garden to face South champion Cardinal Spellman.

“This is my third time winning this. I won it my freshman, sophomore, and now senior year, but this isn’t the last goal we want,” said Coppola, who finished with 21 points and 5 rebounds. “We want to get back to the DCU Center and we want to win that. This is just another step along the way.”

Watertown (18-5) jumped out to an 11-6 lead in the first quarter, and that was when the defense first started to clamp down. For about seven minutes of game time, Newburyport did not score a basket, keeping its score at 6 while Watertown extended its lead.

In the second, Danny Kelly and Cory Donahue each hit 3-pointers, which helped their team take a 26-12 lead into the half. By that time, Kelly and Coppola each had seven points, meaning they alone were outscoring Newburyport (15-8).

Kelly finished the game with 14 points and 6 steals.

During the half, Watertown head coach Steve Harrington told his team to take the game over. Coppola came out and asserted himself on both ends of the floor. During one four-minute sequence, he had three steals on defense which created transition opportunities on the offensive end.

“Coach just told us to put the game away in the third quarter so I tried to step up my defensive intensity,” he said. “I knew defense and turnovers would lead to baskets so that’s what I tried to do.”

The Red Raiders lead 40-20 after the third, and the defense showed no signs of letting up.

“I think our defensive pressure overwhelmed them at times,” Harrington said. “I think that was the key to the game. It was the third game in a row that we’ve held someone in the thirties. I think we’ve taken our defense to another level. It’s certainly the strength of our team, our speed, our quickness, and our ability to defend.”

Brett Fontaine and Chris Jayne each had strong showings for Newburyport. Fontaine had 8 points and 9 rebounds, while Jayne had 11 points and 5 rebounds.

The Watertown defense had almost as many turnovers as Newburyport had points, with 29 to the Clippers’ 31 points.

“Defense has been the key to our success all year,” Coppola said. “I feel like we’re faster, quicker, smarter on defense than every team we play. That was the key to our success tonight.”

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