SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Sports

December 11, 2012

In The Paint column: Local hoop teams face big questions this year

(Continued)

Beverly was more than a week behind its rivals because of the gridiron success. Last Monday, Beverly played competitively against New Mission in a scrimmage at the Henry Cabot Lodge Fieldhouse, but it did so with at least four football players — including senior captain Dom Abate and senior forward Mike Dooling — sitting on the sidelines in street clothes.

In the name of equality, Lewis still had to treat the second week of practice as tryouts because the football players were seeing their first action. That meant Beverly still hadn’t put in their offense as of last week.

“It’s so hard to do because they’re banged up, too. But we gotta play basketball,” Lewis said. “We gotta have the same fairness for tryouts as we did with everyone else, so it’s difficult. We’re almost two weeks behind everybody else. We didn’t really run any offenses (against New Mission) or anything else because we haven’t put anything in.”

3. Will it be “rebuild” or “reload” for St. John’s Prep this winter? Sean Connolly enters his fifth year at the helm of St. John’s Prep, and his first year without having a true go-to player. Connolly’s first season was when Pat Connaughton, who is now playing for Notre Dame, was a sophomore. Steve Haladyna, now at Tufts, was a freshman on that team.

While the Eagles were young then, it was clear that Connolly had two players he could build on. Two years ago, Connolly guided a team led by Connaughton and Haladyna to the Division 1 state championship, but very little remains from that group. Only senior guard Drex Costello saw any significant minutes on the state title team.

St. John’s went 13-8 and lost to Lawrence in the first round of the Division 1 North tournament last year, but qualifying for the tournament could be the top priority for the Eagles this winter. They play a tough schedule and are young and inexperienced.

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