By Dan Harrison
---- — HAMILTON — Freshman point guard Marcus Zegarowski really struggled for second seeded Hamilton-Wenham in the early goings of last night’s Division 4 North quarterfinal match up against Bishop Fenwick.
But with just seconds left in the first half, Zegarowski drilled a pull up jumper-his first field goal of the night-to tie the game going into the locker room. The freshman had found his game, and proceeded to own the third quarter, as the Generals pulled away from the Crusaders and held on for the 61-52 win in front of a standing room only crowd in Hamilton.
The Generals will take on third seeded St. Mary’s in the semifinals on Monday at St. John’s Prep.
Zegarowski used the dribble pull-up to perfection in the third quarter, consistently beating his man off the dribble and driving into the paint for high quality looks at the basket. He scored 16 of his game-high 21 points in the third quarter. No. 10 Bishop Fenwick (11-11) had just 14 points in the third as H-W built a 51-39 lead going into the final quarter, capped off by a Zegarowski three-pointer with the clock winding down.
”I told Marcus at half time to just relax and play his game. It’ll come,” explained Generals (18-2) skipper Doug Hoak. “He was certainly a different player in the third quarter and that was huge part of us winning the game.”
The freshman gave the Generals the lead, but it was senior captain Henry Eagar (15 points) that helped the team hold on in the fourth quarter after the Crusaders nailed a couple of three’s to pull within five points. Eagar had two And-1’s and a total of seven points for H-W, came up with a few big rebounds and even hit the floor a couple of times to keep possessions alive.
”Henry drove the stakes in. He was a shark smelling blood,” said Hoak. “Henry has a knack for that. He’s tough to stop.”
Bishop Fenwick played admirably behind gutsy performances from senior captains Matt Costello (18 points) and Dom Luoni (14 points) but the Crusaders simply had no one who could stop Zegarowski in the third quarter.
”We came in knowing they had pretty good guard play and they made shots when it mattered most. We didn’t really have an answer,” said Bishop Fenwick coach John Preziosa. “I’m proud of my boys and what they did. We hadn’t been here (in the playoffs) in five years. But hat’s off to Hamilton Wenham. They’re 18-2 for a reason.”
As the game went on and Hamilton-Wenham kept its defensive pressure at full-throttle, the Crusaders just seemed to wear down. The Generals had just a few more athletes than Bishop Fenwick and it showed. Jimmy Campbell (13 points) and Nikos Lara (10 points) joined Zegarowski and Eagar as double-digit scorers for H-W.
Not to be forgotten was the defensive effort in the second half by H-W as the team clamped down on Costello. Fenwick tried to run the two-man pick-and-roll with Costello and for the most part the Generals had it snuffed out.
”It was mostly effort,” Haok said of the Generals defensive performance. “We demonstrated a good will to win.”
Bishop Fenwick actually led by as many as six in the first half and H-W didn’t lead at all in the second quarter. The team had a bye and was out of game action for over a week and that layoff clearly affected H-W.
”In my experience, when you have a bye and don’t play for a week and a half, you can’t replicate the game speed,” noted Hoak. “It takes some time to get the pace of the game.”
Zegarowski’s older brother, Philadelphia 76ers point guard and rookie sensation Michael Carter-Williams, was in attendance rooting on Marcus and other brother Max (two points) who is also a freshman.
Hamilton-Wenham 61, Bishop Fenwick 52
Bishop Fenwick: Luoni 4-3-14, Costello 7-3-18, Maxner 2-0-4, DeSilva 2-0-4, Olivera 2-0-6, Graham 2-0-6, Connelly 0-0-0 , Niconchuk 0-0-0. Totals 19-6-52.
Hamilton-Wenham: Mar. Zegarowski 7-6-21, Lara 4-2-10, Loeper 0-0-0, Campbell 5-1-13, Eagar 6-3-15, Bucco 0-0-0, Kotch 0-0-0, Max. Zegarowski 1-0-2. Totals 23-12-61.
3-pointers: BF, Luoni 3, Olivera 2, Graham 2, Costello ; HW, Campbell 2, Mar. Zegarowski.
Records: BF, 11-11; HW, 18-2.