By Dan Harrison
---- — DANVERS — When St. John’s Prep point guard Tyler Dooley elevates his game, the Eagles are really tough to beat.
When a few teammates step up with him, St. John’s Prep is fit for a blowout.
Dooley, a senior guard, set the table nicely for the Eagles in their Division 1 North first round game against Billerica and with big contributions from Max Butterbrodt, Ben Judson and others, the Prep handed the Indians a 91-61 decision.
Dooley had nine points and five assists in the first half but it was his defensive, full-court pressure on the Billerica (7-14) ball-handlers that helped St. John’s Prep find its defensive rhythm.
Offensively, Dooley (12 points, seven assists and four steals) knifed through the Billerica zone defense, got to the lane consistently and found his big men underneath and his shooters on the wing.
“He’s the guy that makes us go,” SJP (19-2) head coach Sean Connolly said of Dooley. “When he’s playing well, we’re tough to beat. We want him to be aggressive and get to the hoop because he makes very good plays and makes good decisions once he gets into the lane.”
Connolly used nine different players in the first half and 11 total in the game. Everyone produced in one way or another. But it was a massive, 11-point effort in the second quarter from sophomore Ben Judson (16 points) and a monstrous, 13-point third quarter from Max Butterbrodt (19 points) that helped the Eagles distance themselves from the Indians.
Judson was knocking down shots from the outside while Butterbrodt established himself in the paint and connected on a few mid-range jumpers from the baseline. Butterbrodt actually scored ll of his second-half points before the third quarter was even halfway over.
“He (Judson) doesn’t miss too many when he’s open. So we love getting him some open looks,” Connolly said before switching to talk about Butterbrodt. “Against their zone we saw the middle and the short corners were open so we wanted to attack those. Max actually likes (the short-corner). That’s his spot where he can hit a bunch of shots. He was on fire in the third quarter.”
Jake Burt made excellent baseline cuts and scored 10, second-half points, Max Burt had two, big three-pointers and junior Quentin Bullen (six assists) killed the Indians’ zone with his smart play at the elbow. Bullen consistently found Jake Burt on the baseline with perfect bounce passes and on defense, applied strong ball-pressure when Connolly opted to spell Dooley.
“The team that’s going to make a run in the tournament needs to be deep,” explained Connolly. “If we’re going to make a run we’re going to need seven, eight guys contributing on a daily basis.”
The one thing every Eagle must do every second their on the floor is defend. SJP let its defense slip late in the season and it cost the team a loss to Lynn English. Last night, the Eagles dialed up the defensive intensity and the Indians were stymied. Billerica had five guys score in the opening half but no Indian managed to register a point in both the first and second quarters.
“It’s basketball players versus athletes,” said Billerica head coach Mike Dagle, referencing the Eagles elevated court IQ’s. “The cuts are smoother and their nose for the ball is a lot better.”
The St. John’s Prep wrestling team, both wrestlers and coaches, were honored at halftime of last night’s game for the squad’s recent success on the mat. The SJP wrestlers one their first-ever dual meet state championship this past weekend after a 38-3 campaign this winter.
agateHed:St. John’s Prep 91, Billerica 61
agate_boldCentered:at St. John’s Prep, Danvers
agate_lineQuarters:Billerica@SportsLocalAgate:agate_lineQuarters::@SportsLocalAgate:agate_lineQuarters:Farmer 5-1-12, Gambale 4-2-12, Baltayan 4-2-10, Najjarian 3-2-9, Mahrez 1-4-6, Rogers 2-0-4, Florio 1-0-3, Sands 1-0-3, Trainor 1-0-2.@SportsLocalAgate:agate_lineQuarters: @SportsLocalAgate:agate_lineQuarters:Totals@SportsLocalAgate:agate_lineQuarters: 22-11-61@SportsLocalAgate:agate_lineQuarters:.
agate_lineQuarters:St. John’s Prep@SportsLocalAgate:agate_lineQuarters:: @SportsLocalAgate:agate_lineQuarters:Butterbrodt 8-3-19, Judson 5-2-16, Dooley 3-6-12, M. Burt 4-0-10, J. Burt 5-0-10, Syska 3-2-8, Bullen 2-3-7, Costello 2-0-5, Hall 1-0-2, Bisson 1-0-2@SportsLocalAgate:agate_lineQuarters:. @SportsLocalAgate:agate_lineQuarters:Totals@SportsLocalAgate:agate_lineQuarters: 34-16-91@SportsLocalAgate:agate_lineQuarters:.
agate_lineQuarters:Halftime@SportsLocalAgate:agate_lineQuarters:: SJP, 45-21
agate_lineQuarters:3-pointers@SportsLocalAgate:agate_lineQuarters:: B, Gambale 2, Farmer, Najjarian, Florio, Sands ; SJP, Judson 4, M. Burt 2, Costello.
agate_lineQuarters:Records@SportsLocalAgate:agate_lineQuarters:: B, 7-14; SJP, 19-2.