SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Sports

February 12, 2013

In The Paint: Looking ahead to postseason basketball

In the Paint

Matt Jenkins

Roughly one week of games remain in the 2012-13 boys basketball regular season — which means everything is about to get serious.

The North Shore has been lucky enough to witness some major top-level team talent this winter. But how will that translate into the postseason, when the stakes are highest?

Let’s take a look, division-by-division, to see how our local teams match up with the Eastern Massachusetts talent.

DIVISION 1

St. John’s Prep has had an amazing year. Unbelievable, really.

The preseason chatter was that the Eagles could struggle and possibly face a year without tournament qualification. Even head coach Sean Connolly seemed so focused on just getting the necessary 10 wins just to earn a postseason bid. Maybe that’s why the Eagles’ bandwagon was a lonely ride in early December.

Now? The wagon is overloaded like a clown car, so full that the tires could burst from all the weight.

The Eagles have earned all their new-found love. They started fast, handling all their early-season non-league action, then quickly asserted themselves against their Catholic Conference rivals. A small hiccup against Waltham wasn’t enough to derail them when they faced their biggest test, the first of two regular season meetings with Central Catholic.

After a 55-52 victory over the Raiders, St. John’s (15-1) may have actually positioned itself as the current favorite in Division 1 North. If the tournament started today the Eagles would be the No. 1 seed, but they still face the rematch with Central Catholic this Sunday (7:15 p.m. at Central).

Senior guard Drex Costello has had a tremendous year, and deserves consideration for The Salem News Player of the Year honors at season’s end. Costello is a consistent scorer and an excellent defensive player. Paired with Tyler Dooley in the backcourt, the Eagles have one of the state’s hardest-working (and possibly most underrated) tandems around.

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