By Jean DePlacido
---- — DANVERS — It was a great matchup between two of the top teams in Division 1 North last night in Danvers. But in the end, Catholic Memorial had too many weapons for St. John’s Prep to handle.
The visiting Knights went home with a 76-64 victory before a large crowd and clinched the Catholic Conference title. They put on a show with their run-and-gun offense, driving to the basket and canning the outside shots. The Eagles fought hard to answer at the other end, but each time they cut the deficit down Catholic Memorial stormed back.
“Spotting them a 10-point lead in the first four minutes of the game didn’t help,” said Prep coach John Dullea, his team now 11-3. “They got it to 12 and we were constantly playing catch up the rest of the way. Every time we tried to cut into their lead they’d go on a run. That’s Catholic Memorial for you; they go on those big runs every game. I’ve seen them put together 12 or 14 points in a row to build up big leads on teams.
“They are well-coached, very disciplined and very skilled. We talked about taking care of the basketball and stopping their transition game. At times I thought we did take care of the ball and work on the transition game. The effort was certainly there, but there are things we could have done better. They’re so tough; they’ll give you a basket and two or three seconds later get it right back.”
Senior Max Burt, who led the Eagles with 16 points, and Jake Burt (14 points) kept the Prep in the game and cut their team’s deficit to six at the end of the first quarter, 21-15.
But the Knights (14-1) of West Roxbury have a bunch of sharpshooters and saw four players hit double figures last night, including Brandon Twitty (17), Guillien Smith (16), 6-foot-8 center Gerard Adams (14), and Aamahne Santos (13 points, 11 rebounds).
Guarding Adams, who goes around 250 pounds, proved to be a tall task that Jake Burt and Sean Lovett shared. He was deadly under the basket, often putting in second chances.
“Adams is blessed with a great set of hands and has worked hard to get in shape so he can now play almost a whole quarter,” said Knights coach Denis Tobin.
“We treated this one like a tournament game; winning the league tonight was huge. St. John’s cut into our lead a few times, but we have so many guys scoring that if a team gets something going they can’t shut all of them down. We’ve had seven different guys lead our team in scoring this year; that’s how even they are.”
The Eagles cut the deficit to four points midway through the second quarter after Spencer Danforth hit a trey as the hosts trailed by six at the half, 38-32. But Catholic Memorial went on a 12-2 run early in the third quarter to open up a commanding lead.
“They’re so deep they wear you down,” said Dullea. “Santos is a very good defender, and he was on (Kareem) so we used Max Burt at the point at times. Max is mentally tough, and when we needed a big shot he was there (with three treys).”