PEABODY — Reading the bottom line only, John Preziosa's debut as the boys basketball coach at Bishop Fenwick goes down as a 76-62 loss to Catholic Central League foe Cardinal Spellman.
Preziosa couldn't be any more optimistic about the Crusaders, though, and he's eager to start the next chapter.
"I love this team. I really love the fight," Preziosa said. "I think if they come with that energy every night, we're going to win a lot more than we lose in this league."
Fenwick fell behind by 21 points (47-26) early in the third quarter but battled back to cut the deficit to just 10 (57-47) early in the fourth.
The Crusaders had done an excellent job holding back Stonehill College-bound point guard Ryan Roach through the first three quarters, but he responded to Fenwick's spurt by shaking loose for 11 of his 13 points in a three-minute stretch in the final quarter.
Dom Luoni's three from the right wing with 7:14 to go pulled Fenwick within 10, but shortly after Roach was fouled hard by Crusader forward Josh Niconchuk, which seemed to set Roach off.
"I think good players like that respond to contact," Preziosa said. "We hit him real hard under the basket and that's either going to make him shell up, or it's either going to make him fire up. I think we fired him up a little bit."
Roach hit a runner, turned a steal into a fast-break bucket, then finished on the break to push Spellman back up by 20.
"Getting Roach back in the game helps out," Cardinal Spellman coach Mike Perry said about Spellman's finishing stretch. "The other kids are going to be good players, but they're young and it's new for them. Roach is a pretty good point guard and he makes some good decisions and some good shots. We got two or three turnovers right away (when Fenwick cut it to 10) and converted, which is big psychologically."