St. John’s made it a priority to limit Reading junior forward Drew Belcher’s touches in the post, and the game plan couldn’t have worked any better for Connolly.
Belcher came into the contest averaging more than 17 points per game this season, but St. John’s held him to just three points.
Eagles’ guards Drex Costello, Tyler Dooley, and Max Burt also pressured the Reading guards all over the court.
“That’s what we’ve been hanging our hat on,” Connolly said about his team’s defense. “We want to keep getting better defensively, and we have a lot of guys who are committed to playing good, hard man-to-man defense. Our help defense was a lot better. We were trying to collapse on Belcher and not let him get much. He’s a very good athlete, a good player, and we’re definitely happy with the way we played defensively.”
The two teams played a tight first half, with Burt hitting a three-pointer to beat the first half buzzer for a 32-27 Prep lead.
St. John’s out-executed their visitors in the second half, and limited them to just 13 points after intermission.
“We missed a lot of open shots and they executed very well,” Morrissey said. “They collapsed on Drew and we needed to get more looks for him. That’s something we have to work on.”
Senior guard Nate Clarke led Reading with 16 points and sophomore guard Mike Algeri added 12 for the Rockets.
Costello chipped in with 16 points for St. John’s and Burt finished with nine.
“Reading is a very good team and this is a good win. We’re off to a great start,” Connolly said. “We have Lynn Classical next week and then we start the league. Hopefully, we can keep it going.”