Lawrence Lancers Boys Basketball '07-'08

Sat, Dec 29, 2007 06:30 PM @ Neutral Location
Team 1 2 3 4 Final
Greater Lawrence Boys Christmas Tourney (Championship Game)
Central Catholic 12 20 27 14 73
Lawrence 12 20 7 18 57

Marsden, Central, power past Lawrence

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Central Catholic 73, Lawrence 57. » Deborah Hammond, Staff PhotographerMore photos

As Central Catholic players leaped into a pile after capturing the school's 10th Greater Lawrence Christmas Tournament title last night, they were undoubtedly already feeling the effects of the physical beating that Lawrence gave them.

The Raiders took the physical pounding with a smile, pouring in 41 second-half points to break a halftime tie and upend the Lancers 73-57 in front of about 1,200 fans at North Andover's Crozier Field House.

"I knew it was going to be a battle, it's always a war with these guys, but I didn't expect this," said Central head coach Rick Nault, whose team improved to 4-0. "It was a hard-fought battle. They made us earn this one."

MVP Billy Marsden erupted for 33 points and point guard Wilfredo Pagan carved up the Lancers for 10 assists. The teams combined for 46 fouls, with Lawrence responsible for 26 of them. Although at one point the Lancers had 24 fouls to Central's 12.

The Lancers stuck with their speciality | their ferocious full-court press | for much of the game. But, their chippy man-to-man defense down low resulted in a lot of whistles, and numerous trips to the line for the Raiders.

"That's what lost us the game," said Lawrence head coach Paul Neal. "We can't give teams that many free points, especially talented teams like Central. It puts us in a hole that we can't climb out of."

The Lancers' early foul trouble saw star guard Justin Nieves limited to just six points. Midway through the second quarter, with the fouls piling up, Nieves was forced to the bench with the Lancers holding a 24-17 lead. By the end of the half, the Raiders had tied it up at 32.

The momentum carried into the second half as well, as Central opened the third quarter on a 13-0 run, en route outscoring the Lancers 27-7 in the quarter.

"Coming in, I thought that they were more talented than we were, so the way to neutralize that is to outwork them, and in the second half, we didn't do that," Neal said. "We gave them a lot of easy baskets (in the third quarter). They just wanted it more than we did."

The defending champion Lancers kept playing physical down low, but Central had started to figure out ways to counterpunch.

Lawrence center Mariano Fortunato was extremely physical on Central's 6-9 center Carson Desrosiers, keeping the sophomore off his game for much of the first half with a lot of bumps in the paint, especially when both went up for rebounds. But despite the physicality, Desrosiers finished with 10 rebounds. He played a tough defense too, swatting eight shots.

"Carson allows our other guys to take chances on defense, because if they make a mistake, he is there to prevent them from being costly," said Nault, whose 4-0 club has yet to be challenged this year.

"We knew that they were going to be physical and try to trap us with their press, so we wanted to get the ball deep to him. We struggled early, but we made the adjustments in the second half."

The biggest difference in the third quarter was the Raiders switched from a zone to a more comfortable man-to-man. They forced numerous turnovers and converted them into layup after layup.

"It was all about our man-to-man pressure in the second half," said Nault. "We are a man-to-man team, so when we went back to that, I think our guys felt more comfortable applying pressure and mucking it up with their guys."

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