(Worcester) St. John’s (Shrewsbury) won the first ten minutes (17-16) and the last three minutes (11-2). In between St. John’s Prep (Danvers) won the Division 1 boys title at the DCU Center on Saturday night.
The “in between” numbers were 54-29, over nineteen minutes of play, in favor of the Eagles, and that spelled the difference in this one and gave them their first state title.
Three players dominated the score sheet – Richard Rodgers (26 points), Steve Haladyna (29 points), and Pat Connaughton (25 points).
During the decisive “in between” nineteen minutes, Steve collected twenty-seven of his twenty-nine points. Richard and Pat had fifteen points apiece during that segment.
Steve (6-3 junior) scored from everywhere getting layups, jump shots, 3’s, and free throws. I didn’t see him dunk but it wouldn’t have been a surprise if he had because he had everything else going.
St. John’s Prep (25-1) shot an unreal 60% (21-for-35) during the game-changing segment while St. John’s of Shrewsbury (21-4) was limited to 32% (11-for-34). The Pioneers also committed ten turnovers while the Eagles had just four.
The Eagles’ lead was 28-21 at halftime before they exploded for thirty points in the 3rd quarter alone. The Eagles started trapping early in the third period and it seemed to disrupt the Pioneers.
The Eagles built their lead to 70-46 with three minutes left in the 4th quarter before the Pioneers went 11-2 the rest of the way.
A big moment for The Prep was the removal of starters near the end, especially seniors Connor Macomber and Pat Connaughton. Plenty of talent is returning to Danvers so a trip back to the state finals is not out of the question.
I saw a lot of St. John’s, “Pat-the-point-guard,” offensive set in this one. In it, Pat Connaughton brings up the ball and sees what he can create. Those not covering him often become less interested in the man they’re supposed to be covering when the Eagles do this. If the help defenders stay home it creates opportunities for Pat. If they try to help then the openings are there for his teammates.
We’ve seen Pat shoot and we’ve seen him rebound. He turned out to be a pretty good ball-handler and passer in this game. You’d have to believe that at 6-4 his future at Notre Dame will be as a guard. He actually has the tools to play anywhere they let him!
Speaking of athletes, I hadn’t seen the Pioneers’ Richard Rodgers before. He could well have played his last basketball game, although I’m certain there are college programs who would love to have him. He is committed to the California Bears where he will be a wideout or a tight end on their football team. At 6-5, 230, I guess he can play anywhere he wants!
One of the more interesting sideshows was when Richard and Pat were matched up for a while. Pat managed to block one of Richard’s shots in the second quarter. I recall Pat doing the same thing to 6-7 Jimmy Zenevitch (Central Catholic) late in a game at St. John’s.
The Eagles got away with a quiet game from Mike Carbone (3 points) because of the major step-up by Steve Haladyna.
Senior Matt Harrington (17) and junior Matt Palecki (10) also reached double figures for the Pioneers.
(I collect my own stats and take my own pictures. I also draw my own conclusions. Mistakes are unintentional.)