SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

March 22, 2014

North Select team turns rival basketball players into teammates

By Matt Jenkins
Staff Writer

---- — Max Burt knows some dirty looks could be fired his way when he enters the locker room late tomorrow morning.

Burt, a St. John’s Prep senior, is one of 12 boys high school basketball players selected to play for the North Select Junior/Senior team in tomorrow’s (12 p.m.) charity game against the nationally ranked Boston Amateur Basketball Club Junior team at Salem State’s Twohig Gymnasium.

He’ll be playing with some of the area’s best players and a handful of them were defensive assignments for Burt during the season.

“Honestly, I think I’ve guarded everyone except for the centers and forwards. It’s going to be weird, but I’m excited,” Burt said. “I’m sure it will be a little weird at first just because I’ve played (against) them all. It’s a little different, but I’m sure we’ll mesh right in and we’ll be all set. It might be a little awkward, but I think it should all work out. We’re all very good players and I think we’ll click.”

Burt and his North teammates will play in the second of two games at Salem State.

The first game (beginning at 10:30 a.m.) will feature a North all-star team made up of 11 freshmen and sophomores going head-to-head with the BABC Freshman team.

In addition to Burt, the Junior/Senior team will also have St. John’s Prep junior point guard Kareem Davis and Beverly senior forward Nick Cross. Phil Rogers (Lynn Classical), Erick Rosario (Lynn English), Isaiah McLeod (Cambridge), Dave Giribaldi (Andover), Gary Clark (Everett), Fredens Deneus (Cambridge), Asante Sandiford (New Mission), Nick Cambio (Central Catholic), and Tyler Nelson (Central Catholic are also expected to play.

Burt covered Rogers, Rosario, Giribaldi and Nelson during games this season.

Even though they’ve had some competitive battles over the years, Burt doesn’t expect any hard feelings from Nelson. The two have been friends since they were in 5th or 6th grade.

“Me and Tyler are like best friends. That’s going to be really fun to be on the same team, living out a dream,” said Burt, who will attend either Phillips Andover or Phillips Exeter next year. “We used to play AAU together way back in 6th and 7th grade and that was the last time I’ve played with him. We’ve always played against each other, whether it be Central Catholic against St. John’s or one-on-one in my back yard. We always said, ‘What if you went to St. John’s and what if I went to Central?’”

All-star games like this always seem to bring regular season rivals together.

Cross, for example, will be suiting up with Northeastern Conference foes Rosario and Rogers.

“It should be good stuff. I know most of them and I was at St. John’s sophomore year, too. It should be good,” said Cross, who intends to go to a prep school next year. “It’s going to be tough (against BABC); we know they’re really good.”

The Freshman/Sophomore team will also face a stiff challenge.

Hamilton-Wenham’s Marcus Zegarowski, a freshman point guard who was a Cape Ann League All-Star this year, and St. John’s Prep’s Keigan Kerby were the two locals selected to play for the North.

E.J. Perry (Andover), Kevin Fernandez (Central Catholic), Michael Boyd (Malden Catholic), Fru Che (Somerville), A.J. Pettway (Central Catholic), Daniel Rymer (Cambridge), Anthony Silfa (St. Mary’s Lynn), Jonathan Paulino (Methuen), and Nathan Habtom (Cambridge) round out the Freshman/Sophomore team.

Even though these are all-star games, the players want to prove they match up with the high level of talent.

“Who doesn’t want to say they beat one of the top teams in the country. I think the whole (BABC) starting five is going high major Division 1,” Burt said. “It’s going to be fun and obviously a good game. It will be tough to beat them, but it will mean a lot if we do.”