In the Paint
The Salem boys basketball team is known as a guard-oriented club, where players like Christian Dunston, Marvin Baez and Billy Muse steal all the headlines.
But as talented as that trio is, all the Witches know their success depends on the effort, hustle and dirty work that their forwards provide.
Starters Jared Louf-Woods and Emilio Beato, plus reserves Davonte Holloway, David Kazadi and Nick Salamida have to provide defense, rebounding and all the “little thing” plays that truly make up a winning team.
When that quintet is doing the job, Salem is much more difficult to stop.
“They’re great. They do all the dirty work,” Dunston said. “Whenever we think we don’t have it, they get a rebound and put it right back in. That’s why I love those guys. We’ve played together forever, since middle school, so I know how they work and I really appreciate it.”
As shifty and slippery as Dunston is on offense, he’s just as gritty and tough on defense. Even though he’s the team’s point guard, he’s willing to slide inside and grab some rebounds when the team needs him to. Still, he’d much rather have his frontcourt handle the grunt work.
Beato is just the type of player every coach wants. He’s not concerned with how many points he scores; he’s just as happy grabbing a loose ball or taking a charge for the Witches.
“We need guys like that. Every team needs guys like that,” Dunston said. “We’re lucky we have Emilio. He’s also a great baseball and soccer player, so he’s an all-around athlete.”
Salem head coach Tommy Doyle knows exactly what to expect from Beato every game.
“He is just non-stop effort, whatever is needed,” Doyle said. “He listens and he tries his hardest at all times on defense and offense. He’ll shoot if he needs to and he’ll rebound. Him and Louf-Woods have been the grunt workers. As a result, they do get some points, but they don’t care. They’re not out there for points; they’re team guys.”
Beato and Louf-Woods are the true dirty work players, but Holloway, Kazadi and Salamida give Doyle options off the bench. As a whole, that group provides depth that is critical to how Dunston, Baez, and Muse play down the stretch of games.
“It’s definitely going to help because we can spell some guys early on and hopefully that will give them a little more gas down the stretch,” Doyle said. “We do like to play guys a lot, but at the same time we feel we have some guys off the bench we feel can sustain and give those guys a break. Any little added break will hopefully help down the stretch, and that’s where we’ve been struggling.”
St. Mary’s of Lynn honored its 1,000-point scorers with a banner-raising ceremony last Saturday at Tony Conigliaro Gym. One banner was raised featuring all the 1,000-point scorers, then a second banner went up for the school’s all-time leading scorer: current Peabody High boys coach Thad Broughton.
Broughton played for the Spartans from 1997-2002, scoring 2,005 points and helping St. Mary’s to back-to-back Division 4 state titles in 2001-02. Broughton’s 2,000th point came on the floor of the Boston Garden.
The other St. Mary’s 1,000-point scorers (boys and girls) are: Tori Faieta (Class of 2011, 1,471 points), Loren Green (2001, 1,464), Tyler Grillo (2009, 1,427), Ed Lewis (1995, 1,282), David Brown (1989, 1,267), Derrick Norris (1995, 1,197), Nick Gagliolo (2012, 1,180), Robyn Mazin (1997, 1,072), and Peter Gray (1982, 1,006).
Finding one solid reason why the St. John’s Prep team is off to an 8-0 start is not easy.
The Eagles have some talent, but they’re not out-of-this-world gifted. They have size, but in relation to past St. John’s Prep teams they’re probably below average. They play hard, but when has head coach Sean Connolly expected anything but maximum effort from his teams?
Team chemistry is arguably the biggest reason why St. John’s is playing so well. The Eagles lost all five starters from last year’s 13-8 team, and very little was expected of them this season. The preseason target seemed to be just qualifying for the playoffs this year, but that goal is adjusting daily.
“We like playing together,” senior captain Drex Costello said. “Last year was fragmented; it was just not a good season for us. This year, I like playing with my teammates. I like them all outside of basketball and on the court.”
Costello is also one of four St. John’s Prep players from North Andover, so there’s definitely some familiarity with one another. Costello, senior Tyler Dooley, and juniors Max Butterbrodt and Max Burt all hail from North Andover, and each is playing a crucial role.
It should be mentioned that this team has created enough buzz to keep former star Pat Connaughton interested. Connaughton, while home on break from his college schedule with Notre Dame, dropped by a practice recently.
Bishop Fenwick’s three senior captains this winter each transferred into the school and currently have younger brothers in the program.
Joe Buccheri came from St. John’s Prep for sophomore year, Ben Maxner also came from St. John’s as a junior, and Fran Hannon came to Fenwick for junior year from Malden Catholic.
Ben’s brother Travis is on the varsity team, while Joe’s brother John is playing JV, and Fran’s brother Dan is on the freshman team.
In The Paint, a column on North Shore boys’ basketball, runs every Tuesday during the winter sports season in The Salem News. Contact staff writer Matt Jenkins at 978-338-2648, by e-mail at email@example.com, or follow him on Twitter @MattJenkins_SN.