Boston High School: Xavier Garcia
March, 17, 2011
By Brendan Hall | ESPNBoston.com
WORCESTER, Mass. -- There is cleaning up on the glass. And then there is flat out owning.
In last night's Division 2 Central/West boys basketball state semifinal at the DCU Center, Northbridge might as well have fallen unto the latter. The Rams controlled the glass, especially defensively, holding a 39-15 advantage over Western Mass champ Sabis International as they used a strong third quarter to cruised to a 57-41 victory.
Northbridge (20-5) moves on to face Eastern Mass champ New Mission in Saturday's Division 2 state championship at the DCU Center.
"We knew we had to control the game, because they (Sabis) are very tenacious," said senior forward Thomas Murphy, who combined with his younger brother, junior Harrison, to pull down 14 rebounds. "We focused on helping, because we knew they were going to beat our guards at some point; and rotating, because as long as we help and rotate, we'll still be able to get a hand up, and then we'll still be on the box. It doesn't matter if you're covering somebody else's man, as long as you're covering somebody we'll still get the rebound."
Said Northbridge head coach Paul Baker, "They (Sabis) are very athletic, they get on the glass, and we really focused on rebounding tonight. We've been a good rebounding team all year, but we really went after it tonight."
While at times Murphy's assertion of the backcourt play by Sabis (15-9) proved true, with Jahson Hollett (13 points) and Xavier Garcia (13) giving trouble with their dribble penetration, it was the play of one of Northbridge's own guards in the third quarter that lifted the spirits. Senior Corey Pryor (24 points) sparked an 11-1 run to open the third quarter and extend their lead to 35-20, with three nifty baskets.
First, he took a handoff from Thomas Murphy on the right wing, planted and sunk an 18-footer near the corner. Pryor then grabbed the loose board on the ensuing Sabis possession, ran the length of the court and lofted up a soft finger roll while twisting his body to avoid a charging call. He then capped the run and made it 35-20 with a three-pointer just a few feet behind the spot he had just sank an 18-footer a few possessions ago.
"I just tried to let the game come to me," Pryor said. "I don't try to force shots -- if someone's there, I try to give the ball off to them. But just lately, everything's been falling for me, so I'm just going with it."
In all, Northbridge outscored Sabis 19-9 in the third quarter, including a 13-2 advantage on the glass. And all of it left Sabis head coach James Mack dejected afterwards.
"I thought we lacked energy the first three quarters," Mack said. "I don't think it was just the third. We didn't do a great job on the boards, we didn't do a great job of containing, our transition defense was not very good. I think that let us down."
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- A quick recap of today's action at the 10th Annual Hoophall Classic, at Springfield College's Blake Arena:
Taconic 52, Sabis 42
Chris Bush led all scorers with 21 points, 16 of them coming in the second half, as the Braves pulled away late thanks to some clutch shooting from both the perimeter and free throw line. Senior center Mike Kalinowsky also had 10 points for Taconic. The Bulldogs (5-5) were led in scoring by Jason Hollett (17 points), while Xavier Garcia also netted 10.
Belchertown 44, Hoosac Valley 39
Pat Gooden (14 points, six rebounds, five steals) led the way as the Orioles (9-0) pulled away late on free throws, after exchanging basket for basket with Hoosac for almost the entire game. It was a gritty defensive battle no less, full of full-court presses and traps, as Belchertown came up with 21 steals -- including seven from Dan Johnson -- to force 31 Hoosac turnovers. The Hurricanes were led in scoring by Andrew Harmon (11 points, seven rebounds) and also got 10 boards from Slayter Aubin.
Mater Dei (Calif.) 85, Murry Bergtraum (N.Y.) 45
The Monarchs showed why they are one of the nation's premier girls basketball teams with an impressive thrashing of the Manhattan powerhouse. Two years after dropping 40-plus on defending Massachusetts Division 1 state champ Northampton in this very same building, UConn-bound senior forward Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis went off for 17 points and eight rebounds in just 18 minutes. Meanwhile, top-five junior point guard Jordan Adams controlled the game from tipoff until the waning minutes, pouring in 17 points, six assists, five rebounds and four steals while turning the ball over just twice. Mater Dei took a 49-18 halftime lead. Cori Coleman led the Lady Blazers with 19 points.
Sabis 50, Frontier 39
Jazmine Collins led the way with 15 points for the victorious Bulldogs (9-1), who had to stave off a late rally from Frontier (7-1) after going up by as much as 14 in the fourth quarter. Alexis Chappell led Sabis on the glass with 10 boards.
East Longmeadow 58, Springfield Central 34
Freshman forward Morgan Belanger came through in big ways for the two-time defending Division 1 Western Mass champs, netting 17 points on 7 of 12 shooting as the Spartans blew the game open in the second quarter. EL (3-6) outscored Central, 24-7, in that stanza, holding them without a field goal; overall, the Spartans forced 37 Central turnovers.