DANVERS — John Dullea got his first win as St. John’s Prep head coach, but there were times in the fourth quarter when he wondered if that big lead his team had built up in the first half was going to be enough.
After Classical got off to a terrible start, scoring only six points in the opening quarter, they fought back and made it a game. A late rally fell short as the Rams were able to pull within two points twice in the final quarter, but each time St. John’s answered with a big basket to keep the lead they had established early and never would relinquish on their way to a 67-60 win.
“I’ve been here as an assistant (under Sean Connolly), but it’s totally different when you’re the head coach,” said Dullea. “I had a lot of anxiety and nerves leading up to the game. Getting a win is great, but It didn’t come easy. Classical is a very physical, athletic team, and they made a bunch of tough shots. I don’t know how some of them went in.
“They also had 28 offensive rebounds, and that can’t happen. We pride ourselves on defense, but they were beating us one-on-one at times. We had a lapse in the second quarter and let them get back in it.”
Everything went right for the Eagles early in the game, and at the end of the first quarter they had an 11 point cushion, 17-6 led by Ben Judson, who had a game high 23 points and Mike Bisson (13). They increased the lead to 16 points early in the second quarter, but the Rams fought back and cut it to nine at the half.
In the early going the Eagles were running Classical off the court and aggressively taking the ball to the hoop, but a 9-2 run by the visitors before Judson made a three-pointer in the final seconds, cut the lead to 34-25 at the half.