Haverhill Hillies Boys Basketball '07-'08

Sat, Dec 29, 2007 06:00 PM @ Haverhill
Team 1 2 3 4 Final
Haverhill Coca-Cola Tourney (Championship Game)
Timberlane 23 8 13 20 64
Haverhill 15 16 15 22 68

Roche, Perez clutch in Hillies' title win

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Sunday, December, 30 By Chuck Frye
Staff writer

The similarities between Haverhill and Timberlane were striking, and it made for a fun finale for this year's Greater Haverhill Coca-Cola Christmas Hoop Classic.

Both teams feature youthful rosters where height is at a premium, trading instead in pressure defense in order to cultivate easy fast-break baskets. The Hillies (Michael Trovato) and the Owls (Paul Cardone) even have first-year head coaches.

But after battling through 3<1/2> quarters that featured five ties and nine lead changes, Haverhill made the clutch stops and pressure free throws that eventually created some separation from the Owls and allowed the host school to win its own tourney, 68-64.

"Defense is what's going to win us games," Trovato said. "Everyone knows we're going to struggle on offense and we're going to have to focus on defense."

Roche, the tourney MVP who started the night as Haverhill's point guard and finished clogging the paint as the big man in the middle of a 2-3 zone defense, was the go-to guy in the final period. The 6-foot-4 senior responded by knocking down a 15-foot fall-away jumper on the left baseline with three minutes left to put the Hillies up by three (58-55), hauling down five rebounds, including two big ones in the final minute, and draining five of eight free throws.

"Charlie's going to play point guard, shooting guard, and be our rebounder. He's got to do it all," Trovato said. "It's tough because everyone knows he's our offensive threat." The night's key play came from senior forward Anthony Perez, who stole the ball on the sidelines with 45 seconds left and fed classmate Anthony Rios (10 points, All-Tourney team) for a layup and a four-point lead.

"Turnovers and missed free throws, that hurt us right there," Cardone said.

Timberlane was also affected by the losses of starters Evan Williams and Mike Donovan to fouls as well as a hot-and-cold offense that ran up 23 first-quarter points but struggled for eight in the second. Haverhill's Javier Bristol (All-Tourney team) was a big factor in the second quarter swoon with eight of his team-high 15 rebounds coming then.

Drew Smith led all scorers with 22 points for the Owls and Williams added 14 points. Both were named to the All-Tourney team.

"This is how it's going to be all year," Trovato explained. "We have one player with one year of varsity play (Roche, who led the Hillies with 18 points) and two others (Rios and Perez) with limited varsity experience. Everything is new, and different kids are going to have the chance to make plays."

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