By Dan Harrison
---- — DANVERS — The St. John’s Prep basketball team doesn’t have a superstar.
Instead the Eagles rely on their depth, length and playing a superior brand of basketball. All three were on display last night as the Prep used a big second quarter to help down visiting St. Mary’s 66-52 on Senior Night.
St. John’s Prep scored just eight points in the opening quarter but that trend wouldn’t last. Once the Eagles started to move the ball better the offense really got going as the hosts poured in 27, second-quarter points to take a 35-21 lead at the half.
“We’ve been working as a team on being more unselfish and keeping the ball moving,” explained St. John’s Prep (14-4) head coach John Dullea. “We encourage the kids to take the shot if it’s open, but if you don’t have a shot, kick it. We’re a tough team to beat when we play unselfishly.”
Keeping with that unselfish mindset, Dullea started five seniors in the Eagles final regular season home game of the season. Anthony Hall, Sean Lovett and Dan Cunningham all started and played at least the first four minutes of the game along with usual starter Max Burt and consistent contributor Mike Bisson.
The group held their own for a while in the 3-2 zone but eventually St. Mary’s (13-6) used its athleticism to get a couple of open looks inside and took an early lead. Dullea was pleased with how the group played and felt they were more than deserving to be afforded the chance to do so.
“It was special for the seniors. It was a night for them to reflect on all their hard work they’ve put in this year,” said Dullea, who went 13 players deep in his substitutions. “They deserved to start.”
Junior Ben Judson really heated up in the second quarter, hitting four of five field goal attempts including a pair from downtown to finish with 10 points in the quarter. Burt (11 points and five assists) and junior guard Kareem Davis (eight points and six assists) did a good job of getting him the rock. He finished with a game high 16 points and drew praise from Bisson after the game.
“We were looking to get him (Judson) the ball. He was hot and the coaches told us to get it to him,” explained Bisson. “When he’s on, he’s on. He’s a great shooter and he’s tough to cover.”
Judson didn’t score in the third quarter but it didn’t slow down the Eagles much as Davis and Burt kept the ball moving around the perimeter. Bisson, a tall kid with a quick first step and good touch on his pull-up jumper, picked up the scoring slack as he began to really assert himself offensively, scoring eight of his 13 points in the third.
“I saw the opportunity to be aggressive,” said Bisson. “All year the coaches have told me to be aggressive, so tonight when my teammates got me the ball I was looking to score.”
The one senior who didn’t start the game, co-captain Max Butterbrodt chipped in 12 points and brought the crowd to their feet in the fourth quarter when he stole the ball at the three-point line and finished the fast-break himself with a big slam dunk.
Butterbrodt, Bisson, Jake Burt and Judson are all six-foot five and capable of playing multiple positions on the court. The length gives Dullea a lot of different line up options and long arms defensively to get in passing lanes and disrupt opponents looking to take it to the hole.
“One thing we’ve been blessed with is we are a long team. And deep,” said Dullea. “We can bother shots and clog the lane. Big, long guys can affect the shot and that’s as good as a block.”
St. John’s Prep will play Lynn English on Sunday in the IAABO Board 130 Classic, a tournament the Eagles are hosting.