St. John's Eagles Boys Basketball '19-'20

Sun, Feb 02, 2020 12:00 PM @ St. John's
Team 1 2 3 4 Final
Central Catholic 11 17 12 15 55
St. John's 6 7 7 15 35

Central's defense dominates

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

Sunday, February, 02 By Jeff Hamrick

DANVERS – With a road trip to conference front runner and undefeated Lowell looming in a couple days, Central Catholic took a one-day reprieve from Merrimack Valley Conference play on Sunday.

And it only fortified what the Red Raiders will be seeing come Tuesday – a Central squad arguably playing the best defense in the state.

In their annual game with St. John’s Prep, the Raiders held the hosts to seven points or fewer in each of the first three quarters while running away with a 55-35 victory over the Eagles. It was Central’s fourth win in the past five meetings between the two. It was also the second time in seven games the Raiders (12-4) have allowed fewer than 40 and eighth time this season allowing fewer than 50.

“We’ve been doing it defensively,” Central coach John Walsh said. “Our problem, unfortunately, has always been on the offensive end. But we’ve defended pretty well all year, which is a good thing.”

The Eagles scored 13 points in the first half – the fifth time in the past seven games Central has held an opponent to 18 points or fewer in a half and the fourth time allowing 15 or fewer. The Raiders have allowed nine points or fewer in 11 different quarters in those seven games.

St. John’s (7-9) was held scoreless for more than four minutes twice in the first half while Central was building a 28-13 lead.

“The kids have committed to doing a great job defending,” said Walsh, whose squad is giving up an average of 43.3 points the past seven and 50.9 on the season. “I’m just really proud of them.”

The biggest defensive force Sunday was freshman Marcus Rivera who had 15 of his team’s first 21 defensive rebounds before Walsh cleared the bench.

“Marcus Rivera has been unbelievable,” Walsh said. “He plays so hard, and I’m just so proud of him and the way he’s playing defensively and rebounding altogether.”

Rivera, who scored three points while making one of his two attempts from the field, finished with 18 rebounds, three steals and a couple assists.

“Coach is are always telling me to play hard,” Rivera said. “I’m young, so he just wants me to play hard, and that’s my role. We’ve just been playing together really well and communicating. We go at each other pretty hard every day in practice.”

While points still aren't coming consistently, the Raiders scored the first nine points of the first quarter and 14 of the first 16 in the second. Xavier McKenzie, who has scored at least 11 in each of Central’s 16 games, once again paved the way with 19 against the Eagles. Nate Godin, who was in foul trouble early, added 15 while sophomore Isaac Bonilla came off the bench for 11.

“Coach is just saying we have to keep our intensity,” McKenzie said. “We have to get stops and let our defense win games. We have to keep playing hard and stay locked in. If we stay with our sets, we’ll win games.”

Although catching 17-0 Lowell atop the standings is a long shot, Central has can atone for a seven-point, season-opening home loss to the Red Raiders in a game McKenzie, Godin and Rivera combined for 46 of Central’s 57 points. But the Red Raiders have been equally stingy, allowing 49.2 points per game while scoring at a 65.4-point clip – five points better than the Raiders.

“That’s going to be a tough one,” Walsh said. “We just have to keep defending the way we are and start making shots. We’re probably better (from the first game) by the same amount that they are. They’ve been playing great, too.”

Aidan Callahan (12) and Rolando Castineyra (7) were the only Eagles to score more than four points as the Prep did not make a three and was 12 of 46 from the field (26.2%).

“It was what we expected,” coach John Dullea said. “It was a typical Central Catholic team, and we knew we’d be in a rock fight with them. We missed some shots we should’ve made and usually make, and that changed the complexion right off the bat.”

Game Statistics:

Central Catholic (55): Jonathan Peguero 1 0-0 2, Xavier McKenzie 6 5-6 19, Marcus Rivera 1 0-0 3, Nate Godin 5 2-2 15, Anthony Traficante 0 2-4 2, Isaac Bonilla 3 2-3 11, Brian Nange 0 0-0 0, Adrian Rodriguez 0 0-0 0, Jeff Goguen 0 1-2 1, Ayden Pereira 0 2-2 2, Jack Sullivan 0 0-0 0, Shad Hinga 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 14-19 55

St. John's Prep (35): Aidan Callahan 4 4-4 12, Luke Poirier 1 0-0 2, Rolando Castineyra 2 3-4 7, Sean McDonald 0 0-0 0, Mason Davis 2 0-0 4, Jack Perry 1 1-1 3, Matt Duchemin 1 0-0 2, Michael Nabbout 0 1-2 1, Michael O'Brien 1 0-0 2, Eric Wing 0 0-0 0, Jackson Stacey 0 0-0 0, Declan Sheehan 0 0-0 0, Patrick Atkins 0 2-2 2. Totals 12 11-13 35

3-pointers: CC — Godin 3, Bonilla 3, McKenzie 2, Rivera; SJP — none

0 Story Comments