Central Catholic Raiders Boys Basketball '15-'16

Sun, Mar 06, 2016 12:00 PM @ Central Catholic
Team 1 2 3 4 Final
St. John's 11 20 14 17 62
Central Catholic 15 10 21 20 66

Fernandez, Central stun Prep

  • Currently 0.0 with 0 votes.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

DANVERS — St. John's Prep dispatched Central Catholic with such ease the first time around this season, that even the most ardent Raider backer had to step into the Prep gym with trepidation yesterday in the Division 1 North quarterfinals.

Rick Nault's team didn't. In fact, Kevin Fernandez and Company barged in like they owned the place.

“We’re very tough physically and mentally,” said Nault. “As the game wore on we began to believe, and Fernandez was unstoppable. He’s only 6-feet (tall), but rebounded like he was 6-8. He’s played in a state championship game and the pressure doesn’t bother him, so we’re very comfortable having the ball in his hands at any time.”

Behind Fernandez's monster 26-point night and the Raiders playing well above their size limitations, Central stunned the No. 4 seeded Eagles, 66-62, earning a trip to Tuesday's (7 p.m.) North semifinals at Wakefield. Once again, the Raiders will get the chance to avenge a regular-season defeat, this time against top-seeded Cambridge.

“You can throw out that first game; they’re a much different team now,” said Prep coach John Dullea, his team finishing up at 15-7. “We knew we were going to be in for a battle because that’s a very tough, physical team. Bottom line is they wanted it more. Central Catholic has a very successful program for a reason ... they’re scrappy and didn’t let the atmosphere here bother them.”

Top scorer Tanahj Pettway was unavailable for the second straight game, and Central somehow found a way to overcome the void with defense.

Ironically, Nault had committed to go with a smaller lineup heading into the tournament, focussing on guard play. St. John's size forced a bit of an alteration to that attack.

Fernandez, at 6-feet, and 6-foot-4 Sam Lara were forced to play guys much taller than them.

“Sam played so big, so strong,” said Nault. “We got pounded on the glass last time we played these guys. We weren't going to let their three big guys beat us like they did in Game 1.”

Meanwhile, the Raider backcourt play continued to be sensational.

“Jreremy Urena had some big, big buckets, and George (Grillakis) scored seven quick ones to get us going early,” said Nault.

The game was tied four times in the first half before the Eagles took a 6-point lead into intermission. Guards Spencer Danforth, who finished with 25 points, and Alec Buresh (15 points) took the Prep on their shoulders with terrific 3-point shooting.

The stretched it out to as many as seven points after intermission, but the Raiders kept battling back.

Victor Mwaurah, who led the Raiders with 19 points in the tourney-opening win over Peabody, came up with the shot of the night in this one, a buzzer-beating three to give Central a 46-45 lead after three quarters.

“That shot was huge,” said Nault. “He gave us all the momentum. It was the biggest shot of the night, maybe the season.”

The Raiders went on an 8-0 run to open the fourth quarter and the first Prep points didn’t come until six minutes remained. Fernandez, a junior captain, made 8-of-10 foul shots in the final eight minutes to help Central hold the lead for good.

Game Statistics:

Central (66): Grillakis 6 1-4 14, Edwards 0 0-0 0, Mwaurah 2 2-3 7, Urena 3 0-0 7, Lara 2 2-6 6, Fernandez 7 11-15 26, Bradanese 2 0-1 4, Carmichael 1 0-0 2. Totals 23 16-29 66


3-pointers: Grillakis, Mwaurah, Urena, Fernandez

0 Story Comments