Leone is 6-5 and strong, a true post player who can protect the basket, while Jackson is big (6-4) and athletic. Assad and Beal are also capable scorers.
The thought of another full year with this group has to have Gibbs smiling — and the other EIL coaches just shaking their heads.
The Highlanders face a big test on Friday with Governor’s Academy coming to Hamilton (6:30 p.m.).
“It’s like Red Sox-Yankees, Florida-Florida State.,” Gibbs said. “You might as well start the game with five seconds to go, one-point game. It always comes down to the last shot. The last four years the spread has been four points or less (each game) and we’ve won three of the last four.”
Governor’s is Pingree’s current target, but long-term the Highlanders just can’t help but think about that New England title.
“We’re hoping to get a championship this year and get it next year, too. Last year we got knocked out really early in the first round and it was a shock to us,” Reardon said. “We didn’t expect it; we were heavy favorites coming into it.
“This year we know what to do. We’ve been there and understand that we can’t take anything for granted. We have to come out every single night ready to play.”
One of the keys for Bishop Fenwick during its stretch run will be how the Crusaders handle pressure. Turnovers plagued Fenwick early in the season, but the emergence of sophomore guard Jhon Oliveira and the heady play of junior Matt Costello has helped correct that problem.
Oliveira became a starter recently and is a natural point guard. He gives head coach Mike Kane a reliable ball handler who can get the ball upcourt and find the open man. Oliveira appears to be a capable scorer, but his job is to put Fenwick in the best position to score.