, Salem, MA


August 29, 2013

Fantasy Matchups: Hoop Heavyweights Salem vs. St. John's Prep an ultimate hardcourt battle


“We weren’t happy about losing to English and Classical in the regular season, and when we got to UMass-Boston (site of the North sectional final) to play East Boston, they definitely weren’t happy that they lost to us the previous year (in the tourney),” added Giardi. “East Boston was big and they had just about everybody back from their ‘89 team. Our physical talent did not belong with their physical talent, but we were smart and played as a team. I remember Jimenez and Ricky (Brunson) putting on a shooting display in the third quarter and we eventually pulled it out.”

Brunson, who became a McDonald’s All-American, went on to star at Temple University and play in the NBA for nine seasons, was never more spectacular than in the state semifinal at the Garden, when he buried 16-of-24 shots and finished with 42 points in a 78-66 win over Bishop Feehan. At the time, it was considered one of the greatest tournament performances by a high school player at the Garden (and still is).

You’d think a 17-year-old kid would be bouncing off the walls after a game like that, but Brunson flatly refused a copy of the box score as a take-home souvenir. He would often talk about “getting busy,” his way of reminding himself and his teammates that they still had to win one more time to celebrate in earnest.

“The loss to Duxbury (in the state semifinal) the previous year left a bitter taste in his mouth, so he was even more committed his junior year,” said Zach Zegarowski, who was Brunson’s teammate on the outstanding 1989 team and remains one of his closest friends. “Rick started lifting weights and was going to carry that (1990) team. He could’ve averaged 40 and was capable of 50-point games, but a lot of games were over at halftime and coach O’Brien would take him out.”

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