Central Catholic Raiders Boys Basketball '19-'20

Fri, Feb 28, 2020 07:00 PM @ Lowell
Team 1 2 3 4 Final
Central Catholic 9 18 10 14 51
Lowell 26 18 8 12 64

Lowell ends Central's season

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Friday, February, 28 By Jeff Hamrick

LOWELL – If there was any doubt where the best team in the Merrimack Valley Conference calls home, it was removed in the first half of Friday’s Division 1 North quarterfinal.

With a defense jumping al over visiting Central Catholic, regular-season champ Lowell grabbed an early double-digit lead in less than four minutes before running away with a convincing 64-51 victory.

Unbeaten through 22 games, top-seeded Lowell advances to play XX

Using a trapping press that picked up Raider guards at mid court, Lowell forced seven first-quarter turnovers that resulted in 14 points as the Red Raiders grabbed leads of 13-2 and 20-4 with 2:18 left in the period.

“They do a great job with it,” Central Catholic coach John Walsh said of the pressure. “We tried to attack it, but we obviously struggled.”

The assault continued, as Lowell took an 18-point lead before the first expired and held a 32-12 lead at the 6:05 mark of the second. Lowell, which is allowing opponents an average of 49.8 points per game, forced 13 turnovers in the opening half that led to 19 points.

With Nate Siow leading the way with four steals, Lowell had 14 lay ups in the first half while taking a 44-27 lead. Senior guards Siow (25 points) and Carlos Nunez (19) combined for 34 in the opening half.

“A lot of it started off with our defense,” Lowell coach Bob Michalczyk said. “We got out on transition and pushed the ball. We didn’t allow them to set up in their defense. Once we got them in scramble mode, we made some easy ones.”

Central (15-7) cut the deficit to 10 midway through the third when Nate Godin scored a driving bucket to cap a 7-1 run. But that would be as good as it got for the Raiders, who once again struggled from the floor, making only 17 of their 51 shots (33.3%). Meanwhile, Lowell was 19 of 29 in the first half and 25 of 48 overall (52.1%).

 “As I’ve said all year, we’ve struggled to score,” Walsh said. “A lot of it is being young. I know that’s an excuse, and it probably is an excuse. But we’ve struggled to score. I also think the physicality and the athleticism bothers us because of our youth. Next year, hopefully, it won’t bother us as much.”

Sophomore Xavier McKenzie (17) and junior Nate Godin (16) once again led Central. Sophomore Isaac Bonilla came off the bench to score all 12 of his on three-pointers. McKenzie scored at least 11 points in all 22 games this season, while Godin averaged 13 points.

Underclassmen scored 55 of Central’s 57 points Friday. Anthony Traficante had the only bucket among the three departing seniors on the roster.

“It’s a bright future,” Walsh said. “We hope for the best. We have to work out in the offseason. The kids have to get in the gym and improve.”

The Division 1 final four is set with games dates and sites to be determined. Lowell will play fifth-seeded Cambridge Rindge & Latin (18-4) while 14th-seeded Boston Latin (14-10) will face defending champion and second-seeded Lynne English (20-2), which has outscored two postseason opponents by a combined 172-136.


Game Statistics:

Division 1 North quarterfinals

Central Catholic (51): Jonathan Peguero 0 0-0 0, Xavier McKenzie 5 6-8 17, Marcus Rivera 1 2-2 4, Nate Godin 6 0-2 16, Anthony Traficante 1 0-0 2, Brian Nange 0 0-0 0, Isaac Bonilla 4 0-0 12, Adrian Rodriguez 0 0-0 0, Totals 17 8-12 57

Lowell (64): Jaceb McKenzie 1 2-2 4, Carlos Nunez 7 1-3 19, Nate Siow 11 1-5 25, Ritchie Etienne 0 2-2 2, Tyson Jones-Armstead 4 2-3 10, Daiquan Durham 2 0-2 4, George Grillakis 0 0-0 0, Jeter Santiago 0 0-0 0. Totals 25 9-17 64

3-pointers: Lowell — Nunez 4, Siow; CC — Godin 4, Bonilla 4, McKenzie

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