By Matt Jenkins
---- — DANVERS — The St. John’s Prep basketball team doesn’t have anyone in particular that it can lean on to make big plays this year, so the Eagles have to get solid team defense to remain competitive.
Last night at home against St. Mary’s of Lynn, St. John’s showed just how tough it can be when everyone commits to defense.
The Eagles dialed it up defensively in the second half and broke the game open with a big third quarter run on their way to a 67-43 win over the Spartans.
Leading by only eight at halftime (32-24), St. John’s started the third quarter with a 20-1 run that put away their visitors early.
“I thought in the second half we picked up our defensive intensity,” St. John’s coach Sean Connolly said. “I thought we did a pretty good job pressuring the ball with Tyler Dooley and Drex Costello. Our big guys were in foul trouble in the first half and I think they controlled the backboard in the second half.”
All together, the third quarter ended with St. John’s outscoring the Spartans 22-4.
St. Mary’s, the defending Division 4 state champs, have a different look this year with only a few experienced players returning. The Spartans’ young crew wasn’t ready to face the type of pressure that St. John’s can bring.
“It’s a young team. Matt Manning has some experience, Tommy Deveau has some experience, but after that we don’t have much experience,” St. Mary’s coach Kevin Moran said. “What better place than here to try to find it. Coach Connolly is a hell of a coach and his man-to-man pressure got to us.”
Had it not been for St. John’s Prep foul trouble, the final margin of victory could have been much greater.
St. Mary’s took 34 free throws, converting 19 of them, and three different Eagles fouled out. Starting forwards Max Butterbrodt and Josh Syska each fouled out and reserve guard Mike Bisson also fouled out in the fourth quarter.
“Right now, we’re not that deep so we definitely can’t have those guys getting into foul trouble,” Connolly said. “The problem is that it’s been like that with these guys their whole careers. That’s something we have to get better at.”
St. John’s had three players reach double figures. Costello had 13 points and junior guard Max Burt came off the bench to contribute 13, as well. Sophomore guard Ben Judson added 11, Syska chipped in with eight, and Dooley and Butterbrodt each had six.
Deveau led St. Mary’s with 14 points, and Manning contributed 10.
The Eagles hit 10 three-pointers.
“Sometimes I think we settle way too much for too many threes, but we do have some guys that can stretch the floor out a little bit,” Connolly said. “We have to use that to our advantage.”
St. John’s Prep 67, St. Mary’s 43
at St. John’s Prep, Danvers
St. Mary’s: Deveau 3-8-14, DeFillipo 0-2-2, Manning 3-4-10, Teehan 2-2-7, Zikianda 1-0-2, Amenta 1-0-3, Boiselle 0-1-1, Riley 1-0-2, Berakah 0-2-2. Totals 11-19-43.
St. John’s: Judson 4-1-11, Johnson 1-0-3, Syska 3-2-8, J. Burt 1-0-2, Lovett 1-0-2, M. Burt 4-2-13, Bisson 1-0-3, Costello 5-0-13, Dooley 2-2-6, Butterbrodt 2-2-6. Totals 24-9-67.
Halftime: St. John’s, 32-24.
3-pointers: SM, Teehan, Amenta; SJP, Costello 3, M. Burt 3, Judson 2, Johnson, Bisson.
Records: SM, 0-1; SJP, 1-0.