LAWRENCE — St. John’s Prep basketball coach Sean Connolly wasn’t concerned that his team would have an emotional letdown in the championship game of the IAABO Board 130 Classic here last night.
“No, it’s not that at all,” said Connolly, whose team had beaten powerhouse Central Catholic in the final seconds the previous night.
“I just think we’re playing a very good Lynn English team. That’s it right there.”
Connolly wishes he hadn’t been so prescient about the Bulldogs, who’ve been on fire in the second half of the season.
St. John’s Prep was on the verge of wrapping up the tournament title game and a 19-1 regular season record, but Lynn English’s unflappable junior guard, Fred Hogan, converted a hotly-contested drive with just two seconds left, lifting the Bulldogs to a wild 75-73 win.
Lynn English, whose roster is dominated by underclassmen, including three extraordinary guards in Stevie Collins, Erick Rosario and Hogan, will dive into the Division 1 North state tournament as a 15-5 team that nobody wants to play.
“I don’t want our kids to get cocky or anything,” said Lynn English coach Mike Carr, “but that’s 11 (wins) in our last 12 games. We feel we can play with anybody in the state tourney. We beat a really good St. John’s team tonight.”
St. John’s Prep should also feel good about itself heading into the postseason, but it did let this championship game slip away. The Eagles went on a 24-5 tear in the first half and led by as many as 14 in the second quarter, but it succumbed to English’s quickness and intense defensive pressure in the final two quarters.
Trailing 70-66 with 1:05 remaining, the Eagles scrapped their way back into it when sophomore southpaw Ben Judson (19 points, including five three-pointers) canned a three from the top of the key, narrowing it to 70-69.