Central Catholic Raiders Boys Basketball '07-'08

Central Catholic 73, Lawrence 57. » Deborah Hammond, Staff Photographer

More Marsden Magic

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Sunday, December, 30 By Mike Muldoon
Sports editor

The Billy Marsden Fan Club gained about 1,200 new members last night.

Heading into last night's 33rd Greater Lawrence Christmas Tourney championship game, only a few of Marsden's young cousins (various Saloises and Batchelders) were dues-paying members. The excitable youngsters had the bright-red T-shirts with "Billy Marsden Fan Club" and No. 25 written on them.

But whether you were a Raider backer or supporting Lawrence, you had to come away from the Crozier Field House a fan of young Mr. Marsden.

All the Central junior did was pump in 33 points to carry his club to a 73-57 victory in the title game.

Should he duplicate his heroics next year, he'd become only the third two-time MVP, joining Leo Parent (Central 1982-83) and Scott Hazelton (Central 1998-99), arguably the two greatest players in area history.

"Obviously it's an honor," said Marsden, who added six rebounds and four assists on the night.

He called the excitement of starring in a big game as "indescribable."

Well, if practice makes perfect, he'll soon be waxing poetic with polysyllabic words that would make Lawrence High's own Robert Frost blush.

With the score tied against unbeaten Lexington in the Division 1 North semifinals last winter, Marsden scored the final seven points in the final 40 seconds of the game. Yesterday, he was again a man among boys.

"He's a gutty kid who wants the ball in crucial moments,'' said second-year Raider coach Rick Nault after his first tourney title. "Regardless of size and quickness, he's constantly making plays."

Nault compared Marsden's brilliance in the big games to Marquis Victor (2003 tourney MVP), who loved to strut his stuff when the pressure was on.

"In the big games, he plays his best," said Nault of Marsden, who scored less than seven points a game last year, but tripled that in the postseason when Central made the North finals.

Marsden feeds off the energy of the Christmas Tourney and the fierce Central-Lawrence rivalry.

"It's incredible. I'm not exactly from Lawrence,'' said the 5-foot-11 resident of Pelham, N.H. "But the fans get into it. It's crazy."

Raider fans were giddy and Lancer fans distraught when Marsden took his game into the stratosphere.

He opened the scoring with a wing 3-pointer 1:16 into the game and didn't cool off much after that. He was shooting 59 percent from the floor and 56 percent from behind the arc this season, and suffice it to say those numbers probably didn't go down.

With the game tied at the half, Marsden knocked the Lancers for a loop with 13 third-quarter points.

He ended with 33 points, tied for 13th all-time in tourney history, and 79 points for the three tourney games, which ranks him tied for seventh.

He's riding a personal high, but this hasn't been an easy time for Marsden, the Raiders and the Central Catholic community. His teammate, Ryan Bourque, died in an early-morning car crash in late November.

"It was awful," Marsden said simply. "We try to remember him by hustling as hard as he did."

Bourque would have been proud of his buddy, not just for the long bombs, the slick pull-up jumpers and the deft drives to the basket. At one point, in the second quarter he took a nasty spill, hitting the floor so hard he appeared to bounce a couple inches. But he got right up.

The former youth soccer star | "I was probably a better soccer player," said Marsden, who gave up the sport before high school | doesn't believe in the World Cup swan dive.

He always gets up.

Especially for the marquee games.

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