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Fri, Mar 11, 2011 TBA @ St. John's
Team 1 2 3 4 Final
Lawrence 23 23 10 17 73
St. John's 17 30 21 19 87

Historic Cinderella runs ends for Lawrence. Prep wins 87-73

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Friday, March, 11 By Hector Longo

BOSTON — In the most brutal Division 1 North sectional, possibly since the mid-1980s, the team that opened at No. 1, stayed there.

Before a great crowd of about 6,000 at the TD Garden, top-seeded St. John's Prep ended the heroic run by No. 15 Lawrence, 87-73, in a wildly entertaining North title game.

Lawrence, an afterthought when the tourney began, finished up the year at 16-9, having knocked off seeds 2,3 and 7 before the loss.

"This is a team that had the opportunity to play here, and that's a great accomplishment," said Lawrence coach Paul Neal. "We lost to a team with more experience. I think it made a difference, their experience. They were here last year."

A don't-blink first half saw the Prep claim a 47-46 advantage.

But the third quarter was not kind to the Lancers on three accounts. First, Jesse Hiraldo was banged for his fourth foul in a loose-ball scrum in front of the Lancer bench.

"Jesse was our only inside presence that was scoring," said Neal. "Without him, we couldn't get anything going inside. We were forced live and die with three-point shots and some of them gave long rebounds that led to fast-break chances for them. We never got the opportunity to set up our defense."

Second, North Reading's Michael Carbone chose that stage to light it up, knocking down all five of his three-point tries in the quarter on his way to a career-high 31. And finally, the Prep cranked up the defense, with coach Sean Connolly making a key adjustment.

"We knew we had to try and stop their transition. We didn't do it in the first half," said Connolly. "But we did a much better job in the second, keeping them in front of us. We were playing up on the shooters too much, faceguarding. We just had to play our regular defense, help each and adjust to it. Carbone hit a bunch of big shots for us, he's been big all year."

Up a dozen, 68-56, the Prep went to Notre Dame-bound Pat Connaughton for the close. The senior scored 11 of his 28 in the fourth as the Prep kept its lead, sending its fans into a frenzy.

Alicea, the most dynamic player in the sectional bar none, equalled his postseason average of 30 points in his Lancer finale.

Midway through the third quarter, he was honored for scoring his 1,000th career point, which he netted two games ago in the victory over Westford. The standing ovation was well-deserved as Alicea closed out his career in style.

Hiraldo had 11 points and a dozen boards, but two tough foul calls, severely slashed his minutes.
Francis Spraus added eight points, playing a strong brand of defense on Connaughton for the better part of three quarters.

Defending the offensive glass killed Lawrence, as St. John's managed 26 second-chance points.

The Prep, now 23-1, returns to the Garden Tuesday night to face South champion Mansfield.

Game Statistics:

Lawrence (73):  Kadeem Perez 1 1-2 3, Ivan Casado 0 1-2 1, Jaylen Alicea 13 1-2 30, Yadoris Arias 1 2-2 4, Francis Spraus 4 0-0 8, Tre'von Farley 2 2-2 6, Carlos Rivera 0 1-2 1, Roberto Speing 2 0-0 4, Dawrin Pereyra 2 0-0 5, Jesse Hiraldo 4 3-4 11, Totals 29 11-16 73

St. John's Prep (87):  Steve Haladyna 8 1-1 17, Conor Macomber 0 1-2 1, Owen Marchetti 2 2-2 6, Patrick Connaughton 10 7-12 28, Michael Carbone 11 2-3 31, Isiah Robinson 1 2-2 4, Totals 32 15-22 87

3-pointers:  L — Alicea 3, Pereyra; A — Connaughton, Carbone 7

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