, Salem, MA


February 23, 2013

St. John's, Danvers among teams looking for long tournament runs

Quality over quantity.

Perhaps that old cliche is the best way to describe the North Shore’s stake in the upcoming MIAA boys basketball state tournament. After all, only five of the 12 teams in the immediate area will be dancing in the postseason.

All five, however, have reasons to believe they can make deep runs in their respective brackets.

Let’s begin in Division 1, where St. John’s Prep drew the No. 1 seed in the North tournament after an 18-2 season and Catholic Conference championship. The Eagles host Billerica on Tuesday (7 p.m.) in a first round match-up.

The Prep has made relentless defense and strong guard play its hallmark this season, led by seniors Drex Costello (15.1 points per game) and Tyler Dooley (10.7 ppg). The Eagles played a difficult schedule, with marquee season sweeps of Central Catholic, Catholic Memorial and BC High.

Sophomore guard Ben Judson (42 3-point field goals) has also emerged for St. John’s and could be one of the players to watch in D1 North. Forward Max Butterbrodt is also playing well and senior Max Burt adds a strong shooting touch off the bench.

Winners of the Division 1 state title two years ago, the Eagles are 9-3 in the postseason under head coach Sean Connolly and are making their 12th consecutive tournament appearance.

The Prep’s potential road to TD Garden has a Merrimack Valley feel, with the winner of Andover/Medford set to visit the Eagles if they advance past Billerica. The No. 4 seed, Central Catholic, would be the Prep’s semifinal opponent if the seeds hold, and that would be one of the hottest tickets in the bracket given the two thrillers those rivals played earlier this season.

In Division 3 North, defending state champion Danvers drew the No. 2 seed after losing its last two games to fall to 18-2. Undefeated Cape Ann League champion North Reading (20-0) drew the top seed.

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