Monthly Archives: February 2011

Pentucket Defense Overwhelms Watertown Girls 52-22 in D3 North First Round

Gabby Coppala (#10) defended by Vicky Castiglione (#20)

Vanessa Cahill blocks Casey Halle’s shot.

(West Newbury) We’ve seen it before in the early rounds of the MIAA girls basketball tournament.  A team from another conference gets to play Pentucket.  They know that the Sachems press but don’t have the time to get fully prepared.

Watertown (7-14) from the Middlesex League was Pentucket’s first round opponent this year and predictably found out the hard way what end-to-end defense looks like, losing, 52-22, on Monday night.

Pentucket will host Weston (14-7) on Thursday night at Pentucket in the quarter finals of Division 3 North play.

The visiting Red Raiders struggled to get the ball up the court and only the dribbling skills of freshman Gabby Coppala minimized the backcourt turnovers.

Sarah Higgins forces one of Watertown’s twenty-eight turnovers.

Even in the frontcourt, running an offense was difficult and Pentucket’s size discouraged layups and second chances.

It took Watertown 3 ½ minutes to score (Gabby Coppala layup) their first basket and another four minutes to score their second (Casey Halle) layup.

Meanwhile, Pentucket rang up twenty points.  They made six-of-seven free throws and had two 3’s from Coley Viselli.

Off to a 20-4 first quarter, Pentucket used the same formula (relentless defense) to put together a 15-4 second quarter.  Besides shutting down Watertown, the Sachems dominated the boards and turned up free throws (thirteen) by going to the basket and rebounding missed shots.

Sarah Higgins picked up seven points in the second quarter.

Pentucket led, 35-8, at the half.  This was a game begging for the Mercy Rule (softball) instead of a second half.  I overheard one couple from Watertown discussing whether they should stay for the second half!

Freshmen Sydney Snow (#3) and Liza Brackbill (#22) see some late-game action for Pentucket.

But they did play the second half and Pentucket played everyone.  The scoring highlight from the second half was an eleven-point run by the Sachems during the first 4 ½ minutes of the final quarter.  The scoring in this streak was provided by Alex Moore (layup), Coley Viselli (3-pointer), Sarah Higgins (layup & 2 free throws), and Tess Nogueira (2 free throws).

Sarah, Tess, and Coley all finished with eleven points.

Freshman Gabby Coppala (11 points) of Watertown was impressive.  The young guard was an excellent dribbler and passer in the midst of never-ending pressure.  Pentucket double-teamed her and tried hard to keep the ball away from her.

The statistics reveal the extent of the success of the Pentucket defense.  They forced twenty-eight turnovers, including seventeen in the first half when this game was decided.  The Raiders were 0-for-11 from long range and just 18% (9-for-50) overall from the floor.

Plenty of positives to take away from this one regarding Pentucket’s defense.

Their offense?  The stats from this game tell me that they’re going to have to get a lot better with the ball if they are going to go very far in the tournament.

Yes, they collected 52 points.  And yes, they played everybody.  But twenty-four turnovers!  That’s a lot of empty possessions against an undersized team that didn‘t trap.

Pentucket shot 20% (3-for-15) from long range and 30% (15-for-50) overall from the floor.  Plenty of high-percentage attempts didn’t fall.

Tess Nogueira free throw attempt

Free throw shooting was another problem area – 61.2% (19-for-31).  Tess missed six including one that didn‘t hit anything.

An area of strength was the offensive rebounding.  Vanessa Cahill and Tess Nogueira were terrific in this area.

Weston (14-7) is the next opponent and judging by their record I would expect a tougher game.  However, if Pentucket keeps bringing that terrific defense and sharpens their ball management and shooting they’ll be fine, I suspect.

(I collect my own stats and take my own pictures.  I write my own captions and draw my own conclusions.  Mistakes are unintentional.)

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Filed under Pentucket, Watertown

Regular season pictures I’ve taken of MIAA tournament-qualifying basketball team members

The pictures are sorted by Divisions and boys/girls.

Click on a picture to enlarge it.

Division 1 North

#1 seed – St. John’s Prep (19-1)

Pat Connaughton

Mike Carbone

#3 seed – Lynn English (19-2)

Keandre Stanton

Travonne Berry-Rogers

 

#5 seed – Central Catholic (19-2)

Jimmy Zenevitch

Luis Puello

 

#11 seed – Andover (14-5)

Joe Bramanti

 

 

 

 

#14 seed – Everett (12-8)

Emo Deschommes

Alain Jeanty

 

Division 2 North

#1 seed – Wilmington (17-3)

Vinny Scifo
Tim McCarthy

 

 

 

 

 

 

#5 seed – Salem (15-5)

Antonio Reyes
Dario/Raphy Medrano

 

 

 

 

 

#3 seed – North Andover (16-4)

Zach Karalis

Derek Collins

 

 

 

 

 

 

#11 seed – Masconomet

Adam Bramanti
Zach Zaniewski

 

 

 

 

 

 

Division 3 North 

 #1 seed – Hamilton-Wenham (15-3)

Stephen Tam

 

 

 

 

 

#5 seed – Newburyport (13-7)

Matt Leavitt

Eric Meyer

 

#8 seed – Pentucket (11-9)

Corey McNamara

Will Angelini

 

 

 

 

 

Division 4 North

#2 seed – Manchester-Essex (16-4)

Joe Mussachia

Sean Nally

 

#8 seed – Georgetown (12-8)

Johnny Spears and Tyler Wade

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Division 1 North (Girls)

 #6 seed – Masconomet (15-3)

Brooke Stewart

 

 

 

 

 

Division 3 North

#4 seed – Ipswich (13-7)

Hannah O'Flynn

Nyra Constant

#5 seed – Newburyport (13-7)

Molly Rowe

Beth Castantini

 

 #7 seed – Triton (11-9)

Jen Rock

Alyssa Conley

#3 seed – Pentucket (18-4)

Alex Moore

Tess Nogueira

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Filed under Everett, Uncategorized

Pat Connaughton (23 points) Leads St. John’s Past Central Catholic 72-70

Pat Connaughton (23 points) hits the game winner over Luis Puello with twenty seconds left.

Pat Connaughton and Jimmy Zenevitch (32 points)

(Danvers) This was the game you circled on your calendar when you got the 2010-11 schedule for either St. John’s Prep or Central Catholic.

Central Catholic at St. John’s Prep.  Plenty would argue that they’re the two best teams in the state.  And what a show they put on at St. John‘s in front of at least 1000 fans, some sitting and many standing, on Wednesday night.

No surprise that Pat Connaughton would have a big part late in the Eagles winning 72-70.  He made a tough shot over Luis Puello with twenty seconds left to give St. John’s the two-point edge and then topped that by blocking Jimmy Zenevitch’s tying layup attempt from behind down the other end.

The Raiders had one last try for a tie/win with 3.8 seconds to go but Freddy Shove intercepted the inbounds pass after a deflection by Isaiah Robinson to seal the victory.

Central Catholic (19-2) had a fifteen game winning streak snapped while St. John’s (19-1) extends their win streak to eight.  I also learned that the Raiders had an eleven-game winning streak versus the Eagles ended by tonight’s outcome.

The Eagles finished the regular season 13-0 at home where the support is organized, loud, and never-ending.

The possibility that these teams could get a rematch in the Division 1 North finals would appear likely.  Both will make it difficult for opponents between now and a rematch to run an organized offense.  Each has several big-time, go-to shooters.

There were eight lead changes in the first quarter before the Eagles ran off thirteen straight going into the start of the second quarter to pull away (24-12) and hint that a blowout might be in the making. Pat Connaughton converted a rebound, hit a jump shot, and then nailed a long one in this segment.

Jimmy Zenevitch connects on a three.

Over the next 3:45 the Raiders started the road back using a 10-2 spurt including a couple of Jimmy Zenevitch baskets to close to 26-22 with four minutes left.  The Prep led at the half, 36-31.

CC finally caught the Eagles (41-40) on a Jimmy Zenevitch jumper 3 ½ minutes into the third quarter.  There would be nine more lead changes before this game ended.

The third quarter finished with the teams tied at 55-55.  It wasn’t hard to suspect at this point that there was an exciting conclusion in the works.

Five minutes of playing time later you weren’t so sure.  After Central Catholic had gone up by three (60-57) on Jimmy Zenevitch’s three and a layup, the Prep rattled off ten straight points to take command (67-60) with just three minutes left.

Three of the points in that 10-point run were from Pat Connaughton connecting from NBA range.  In practice, NBA range was not out of his range.

Despite a very hostile environment, CC surrounded a missed Eagle shot with layups by Jimmy and Luis Puello.  Those clutch scores made it a one-possession game (69-66) with 1:21 to go.

Lack of a goaltending call on Jimmy Zenevitch led to a techical foul against St. John’s.

The most controversial play of the game followed and the way the Eagles reacted to it almost cost them the game.  An Eagle player (It looks like Freddy Shove in my picture to the left.) went in for a layup and Jimmy Zenevitch either deflected the shot or goal tended.  There wasn’t a soul in the house with Eagle connections that wasn’t sure that the basket should have counted because of a goal tend.  When it wasn’t called the St. John’s coaching staff erupted and Eagle coach Sean Connolly got whistled for a technical foul after brushing an official. (Never a good idea down the stretch in a tight game.)

Freshman Tyler Nelson made both technical foul shots.  CC got to keep the ball as well and Jimmy Zenevitch drove for a layup and to the dismay of the home crowd, Central Catholic was shockingly in front, 70-69, with 1:10 left.

Pat Connaughton – difference maker at both ends in crunch time

Naturally the Eagles had the ball in Pat Connaughton’s hands in the next possession and he got fouled and made one of two free throws with 1:03 left to tie the score.

Jimmy missed an attempt to break the (70-70) tie and that set the stage for Pat to score the winner and block Jimmy’s tying attempt.

Jimmy Zenevitch (32 points) used his height (6-7) to get inside points.  The lefty also made a three in the final quarter.  The talented senior reached 1000 points in the third quarter. However, in a game this tight the Assumption recruit may well look back at his 3-for-10 from the foul line with some dismay.

Pat Connaughton (23 points) was guarded by at least five different players in denial man-to-man mode.  Down the stretch you knew that the Notre Dame recruit would be getting the shots, as did CC, but they couldn’t keep the ball away from him.  His game-saving block late was just a great athletic move.

Mike Carbone (21 points) puts some serious defense on Jaycob Morales.

Mike Carbone (21 points) has the quick release to offset his lack of size.  He hit four 3’s and didn’t miss a free throw.  He also did a super defensive job on Jaycob Morales (5 points).

Luis Puello (12 points) is a favorite of mine.  His quickness is eye-catching and his defense is as well.  He can get to the basket anytime he chooses.

The crowd was awesome.  I checked out the St. John’s website and knew that the doors opened 1 ½ hours before the game started and that a sell-out was likely.  I got there shortly after 5:30 (the game started at 7) and there were few seats left.  Many of those who arrived in the next half hour ended up standing.  After that, the sellout the website referred to happened.

Both teams played man-to-man defense full-court.  Two normally productive point scorers Stephen Haladyna (4 points) and Evan Sheehan (2 points) were held in check by their defenders.

The pairings for the state tournament will be announced on Friday (February 25th) and the do-or-die games start on Tuesday.

Note the late-arriving crowd under the basket.

Wouldn’t Central Catholic like another chance against The Prep on a neutral site for the Division 1 North title.  I expect to be there if that game happens.

(I collect my own stats, take my own pictures, write my own captions, and draw my own conclusions.  Mistakes are unintentional.)

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Filed under Central Catholic, St. John's Prep

Central Catholic Routs Lynn English in the Second Half 88-62 to Win the TD Bank Board 130 Basketball Classic

Central Catholic’s co-captains Luis Puello and Jimmy Zenevitch pose after receiving the championship trophy.

Evan Sheehan (#22) buried five three-point shots.

(Lawrence) Suppose you went to a basketball game and a track meet broke out.  That sure seemed to be what happened at Central Catholic as the Raiders and the visiting Lynn English Bulldogs met in the finals of the TD Bank Board 130 Basketball Classic.

I try to script every game I cover and whenever I get one like the Central Catholic/Lynn English game it makes me wonder why.  There was some thought that maybe the referees called a lot of fouls because they needed a break!

Central Catholics (19-1) prevailed, 88-62, in a misleading final score.  Lynn English (18-2) was only behind 52-46 with two minutes left in the 3rd quarter.

The next 2 ½ minutes did in the Bulldogs as the Raiders tallied sixteen points during their next eight possessions while LE had only a Keandre Stanton layup to show for the same number of opportunities.

In an attempt to slow down the Bulldog offense, the Raiders switched away from their usual man-to-man defense and used an active zone instead in the second half.  It worked like a charm.  LE couldn’t gear down to patiently attack the CC zone and had just two second-chance opportunities the entire second half.

The Raiders ran after rebounds and created many high-percentage looks as fatigue set in on the visitors.  The result was a great run of productive offense sending  CC in front 68-48 with 7 ½ minutes remaining in the game and coupled with LE’s top scorer (Travonne Berry-Rogers) fouling out made for a show-time finish for the Raiders in front of a nice holiday crowd.

Assumption-bound Jimmy Zenevitch – tourney MVP

Jimmy Zenevitch (20 points) had several dunks while Evan Sheehan (21 points) punched his ticket to the All-Tourney team with yet another three.

It was the pace of the game that caught my attention.  Hadn’t these two teams just played twenty-four hours ago?  Didn’t seem to matter especially to Lynn English.  At times they had four defenders in the backcourt harassing CC dribblers and intercepting passes.

CC gave Lynn English fits in the frontcourt by getting into passing lanes.

The turnovers stats (25 for each team) were gruesome.  Maybe it was fatigue but both teams rolled up steals on each other at an alarming rate.

CC may have won by 26 points but you couldn’t have envisioned that sort of outcome watching the second period.

The Bulldogs’ all-out defensive attack worked to perfection and a 24-16 CC lead disappeared as LE put together a 15-2 stretch that left the home team behind, 31-26.

However, despite having ten turnovers in the second period alone, CC was able to rally back late on five points from Doug Gemmell and get a 38-37 halftime lead.

Central Catholic’s ball management was suspect but its shooting was a consistent 50% in both halves (13-for-26 & 20-for-40).

One huge advantage for CC was their ability to hit the open shots that LE’s never-ending trapping occasionally made available.   Evan Sheehan took full advantage of the open looks that came his way.

From the How-Can-It-Be Department:  Evan got fouled on the last long-shot he attempted in the 4th quarter and proceeded to miss all three free throws.

Travonne Berry-Rogers (#11) – held scoreless in the second half.

Travonne Berry-Rogers (16 points) led the Bulldogs scorers but was held scoreless in the second half.

Keandre Stanton had twelve points and several leaping blocks.  The Raider defense limited his moves on the offensive end by crowding him when he tried to dribble to get open.

The hero of the Andover game (Jaycob Morales) had all of his eight points in the second half.  With Luis Puello limited (bad lower back) Jaycob had more responsibilities getting the ball up the court and running the offense.

Both teams came into this game having avenged their only losses of the season – LE to Salem and CC to Andover.

Central Catholic plays St. John’s at Danvers on Wednesday night.  I can’t imagine the Raiders rolling up 88 points against them on the road.  If they do, then the mystery of which team will come out of the Division 1 North in the tournament has been solved.

I sat with Alfonso Payne who is the assistant men’s basketball coach at Assumption.  He was looking forward to having Jimmy Zenevitch on his roster for the next four seasons.

Central Catholic cheerleader toss during pre-game introductions.

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Filed under Central Catholic, Lynn English, TD Bank Board 130 Basketball Classic

Town Common Photo

This picture appeared on the front page of The Town Common (February 16th -22nd, 2011) with the following caption: “Johnny Spears (#4) of Georgetown defends Darren Lewis (#10) of Triton during the Vikings, 65-49, win on February 9th at Triton.”

The photo was taken at night in the very well-lighted Triton gymnasium.

Hard to resist a picture of (arguably) the two best players in the game when they are together.  They also were not moving at any speed which lessened blurring possibilities.

I used my Canon EOS Rebel T1i camera.  I was shooting in the TV mode.  Shutter speed was 1/160, F-stop 5.0, Exposure compensation + 1/3, and ISO at 1600.

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North Andover Controls Adam Bramanti and Defeats Masco 55-48

Colby Smith (#12) tries to prevent a pass to Adam Bramanti (#3).

Colby Smith hits two free throws near the end.

(Boxford) Plenty of denial defense was on display as North Andover defeated Masconomet, 55-48, at Masco on Friday night in Cape Ann League play.

A full house was on hand, partly to honor Masco’s three seniors, and partly to see if their Chieftains could grab a share (with Wilmington) of the CAL Division 1 title.  Well, one out of two, ain’t bad!

With the victory, North Andover (15-4) will have a chance to be co-champs with Wilmington if they can get by Hamilton-Wenham in a rescheduled game at home on Monday. HW coach Doug Hoak was in the house for the Masco/North Andover contest.

Derek Collins (16 points) hit a couple of three’s early in the 4th quarter to give the Knights a 47-41 lead with 4:45 to go and Masco (11-7) was kept at least one possession away thereafter.

An Adam Bramanti (13 points) layup with seventeen seconds left narrowed things to 51-48 but two free throws by Colby Smith gave the Knights the cushion they needed for the win.

Normal Knight high scorers (Zach Karalis and Derek Collins) were on the “two” end of Masco’s triangle-and-two defense.

Derek Collins hits a three over his “shadow” Ben Panunzio.

It worked against Zach as he was limited to seven points.  Derek, however, reached his average and hit from long range three times.  One of those 3’s in the 4th quarter was a real backbreaker (for Masco).  Derek ended up forcing a shot from closer to midcourt than the top of the key that went in as the shot-clock buzzer went off.

Adam Bramanti averages twenty but was held to thirteen.  He was shadowed by an assortment of Knights. NA did not allow him to use screens to get open by switching every time one was set for him.

Adam Bramanti saw tight defense everywhere. This time from Collin Hubbell.

Adam got off twenty shots (made five) but the looks he had against Hamilton-Wenham (scoring 28 points) were not available versus North Andover.

There were nine lead changes in the first half with NA getting the last one with a run of six straight points (Zach, Derek, and James Warden two points each) as the Knights closed out the first half in front, 30-25.

The Knights never trailed in the second half.  The Chieftains did tie the score (38-38) on a layup by Alex Brown (11 points) to start the final period.

James Warden (16 points) and Michael Moroney (8 points) found opening for baskets against Masco’s 3-man zone defense especially in the first half.

Masco’s student section was out in force.  They did make the mistake of chanting, “We can’t hear you,” in the direction of NA players from the JV game.  Sporting a lead late, the players responded with the obvious, “Scoreboard, scoreboard,” which silenced the Masco kids.  Memo: Chanting, “We can’t hear you,” works best when your team is AHEAD.

Masco is on a 4-game losing streak and has two non-league games (Revere and Malden Catholic) at home next week left on their regular season schedule.

NA had lost two in a row before defeating Masco.  The Knights also won over Masco in December. They have Hamilton-Wenham left.

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Filed under Masconomet, North Andover

Andover Defeated by Central Catholic Buzzer Beater 59-56

Joe Bramanti (22 points) applies some defense to Jaycob Morales.

Jaycob Morales (10 points) hit the last-second, 3-pointer to give Central Catholic the win.

(Andover) Jaycob Morales hit a three in the 3rd quarter to put an end to an 18-point Andover run and topped that shot with a game-winner in the 4th at the buzzer to give Central Catholic (17-1) a 59-56 victory on Thursday night at Andover High School.

Jaycob’s three climaxed a game that both teams seemed to have taken control of a couple of times.

Andover’s Craig Luschenat (13 points) tied the game (56-56) with a three from the right corner with 56 seconds left.  The teams then swapped missed shots setting the stage for the Raiders with 12.5 seconds to go.

You suspected that CC coach Rick Nault might set Jimmy Zenevitch (26 points) up in close for at least some foul shots or maybe have a drive to the basket from Luis Puello (13 points) or Jaycob Morales (10 points).  You knew that whatever CC did, it would be done late so that Andover couldn’t respond if there was a miss.

The “late part” went as expected.  The Raiders, however, stayed outside and when Jaycob’s final shot, from just to the left of the top of the circle, went through the net there wasn’t even time for Andover to get the ball inbounds.

Despite the fact that Central Catholic had already clinched the Merrimack Valley title the tone in this one was at the post-season, tournament-final level.  There was plenty of vocal support from the two team’s student sections and plenty of crowd-pleasing action to watch. The teams had split the two previous meetings.

Jimmy Zenevitch (26 points) puts up a free throw in the 4th quarter that tied the score.

CC was by far the better team in the first half.  Despite an unseemly twelve turnovers, they frequently got the ball into 6-7 Jimmy Zenevitch’s hands for high percentage shots.  They shot nearly 50% in the first half.

Andover had Joe Bramanti (“The Brama Bull”) bring the ball into the frontcourt on almost every possession.  He delivered twelve points but there never was an easy attempt.  Having Luis Puello chasing him everywhere he went factored into his struggles early on.  Andover trailed 27-20 at halftime.

It was obvious that Andover had zero chance of winning if the second half was a repeat of the first.  I don’t know what was said at halftime but the Golden Warrior team played a third quarter that was remarkable under any conditions.  Played against the #2 Division 1 team in the state and it was indeed something special.

Luis Puello (13 points) defends Joe Bramanti.

Andover went from trailing 27-20 to leading 38-27 in about 6 ½ minutes.  That’s a nifty eighteen unanswered points! You never saw such a turnaround.  The Raiders missed two free throws, eight shots from the floor, and committed seven turnovers during this ugly (for them) segment.  Joe Bramanti (8), Brian Salvesen (4), Craig Luschenat (4), and Jack Kieckhafer(2) all contributed points for the Golden Warriors.

You watched the onslaught and had to start thinking that Andover, with a 42-31 lead after three quarters, was on their way to a W.  It didn’t turn out that way.

The 4th quarter started and instantly it’s CC that can’t miss and Andover begins to struggle to score.  In three minutes and fifteen seconds the Golden Warriors squandered their entire eleven-point lead thanks to a 17-3 run by the Raiders.  Jimmy Zenevitch came alive with two layups and two old-fashioned 3-point plays.  Jaycob Morales hit his second of three 3’s in this comeback segment for Central Catholic.

With 4:44 to go and a 48-44 lead it looked as if CC was ready to roll to victory but credit Andover for fighting back.  Despite missing three free throws, the team rode slashes to the basket by James Costello and Jack Kieckhafer, and the last-minute three by Craig Luschenat, to a tie score before Jaycob Morales’ last-second heroics.

Luis Puello scored thirteen points but it was his defense that was noticeable.  He made Joe Bramanti work hard for his 22 points.  Luis picked up his 4th foul with five minutes left but managed not to foul out and also to continue to play great defense.

Joel Berroa scored only four points for CC but he set up Jimmy Zenevitch for a number of layups with his passes.

Joe Bramanti struggled with his outside shooting and had to face shot-blockers when he drove.  Still he managed 22 points.  His defense was impressive to watch against Luis Puello and also Jaycob Morales.

Coaches from St.John’s Prep and Lynn English were in the house.  Central Catholic plays at St. John’s on February 23rd.  Lynn English is in a tournament at Central Catholic starting Sunday and could face CC in the finals.

Seniors were honored before the game.

The Raiders have now won thirteen straight.

Andover (13-4) defeated North Andover earlier this week.

Luis Puello shoots over Jack Kieckhafer in front of the Golden Warrior student section.

The student sections created so much noise that you never heard individual voices.  The cheerleaders from both teams performed stunts that looked dangerous to this reporter.

(I collect my own stats and take my own pictures.  I also draw my own conclusions.  Mistakes are unintentional.)

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Filed under Andover, Central Catholic