(Danvers MA) St. John’s Prep has size inside.
“Their bigs are their focal point,” said Lowell coach Bob Michalczyk afterwards. “If I’m them, that’s the game plan. You’d be foolish not to.”
Junior Mike O’Brien finished early and often around the hoop gathering twenty-eight points as St. John’s defeated Lowell, 78-46, on Sunday afternoon.
The Eagles (3-4) were so effective inside that long-range shots were seldom attempted.
“In most games we have a distinct height advantage and we want to establish things down low,” explained St. John’s coach John Dullea post-game. “It’s a point of emphasis for us to look for players closer to the basket.”
Point guard Stephon Patrick was the best at getting the ball to Mike O’Brien in the paint. On this afternoon when Mike got the ball good things followed for the Eagles.
“The taller one (Mike O’Brien) is very skilled,” added Coach Michalczyk. “I’ve watched him in a bunch of games. The other one (Kyle Webster) is like an ox. He uses his body very well.”
Credit the team from the Merrimack Valley Conference, they put up a fight. They defended the perimeter well and forced turnovers that led to layups.
But after a quick three (Javien Kirmil) to start the game, Mike O’Brien became a problem for the Red Raiders. The Eagles rolled off eleven straight points and Mike had eight of them. Two were assisted by Stephon Patrick and another was the finish after an offensive rebound.
The visitors trailed, 16-5, after a quarter but held their own in the second quarter. Jeter Santiago (13 points) hit three times from long range to keep Lowell (2-5) in range, 39-27, at halftime.
The Red Raiders got even closer in the first two minutes of the second half. A jump shot by Thomas Heinen pushed Lowell to within eight, 43-35.
The rest of the way it was all St. John’s. The Eagles continued to score on high percentage shots while Lowell stopped being able to make the tough shots that were available.
“We started the game out a little bit slow and came on in the second half,” added Coach Dullea.
You couldn’t help but agree. After the Red Raiders had closed to eight points, the Eagles went on a 22-2 run over the final six minutes of the quarter to put the game away.
Mike O’Brien had fourteen points in the third period that ended with St. John’s leading, 65-37.
The final quarter was a convincing display of “Blessed are the merciful,” by St. John’s. Everyone played for both squads and the push for points (by the Eagles) was minimized. That’s good sportsmanship!
St. John’s 16 23 26 13 = 78
Lowell 5 22 10 9 = 46
(The pictures enlarge.)