DANVERS — When you’re the No. 1 seed in the State Tournament, sometimes you have to take the good with the bad.
St. John’s Prep came into the Division 1 North quarterfinal as the top seed, but Lowell had the advantage of having a tourney win under its belt instead of a layoff as the result of getting a bye.
The Eagles had their hands full with a scrappy Lowell team and finally put them away in the fourth quarter, 74-67 before a big crowd.
It had been 12 days since the Eagles played, and it took them a while to get going. At the end of the first quarter the game was knotted at 21-21 after a fast paced, high scoring eight minutes.
“Those guys battled,” said Prep coach John Dullea after his team improved to 17-4 and will take on fourth seeded Central Catholic in the semifinal round. “I’m not going to use the bye as an excuse, but we hadn’t played in a while, and had some rust. I think that showed in the first quarter.”
Max Burt led the Eagles with 15 first half points and Ben Judson had 10 of his team-high 20 in the first two quarters. St. John’s held the visitors to just 11 points in the second quarter while putting 21 on the board and had a 42-32 lead after an 11-2 run to end the half.
Lowell (12-9) refused to go away and came out on fire to start the third quarter. They went on an 8-0 run to pull within two points before Judson hit a trey for the first points by St. John’s midway through the quarter.
Sean Bryan and Dewayne Thomas led Lowell with 24 and 22 points respectively. Spencer Danforth (six points) came off the bench to hit a big 3-pointer to get the lead back up to 10, and Judson made a basket and two free throws late in the quarter to open up a 13 point cushion.