SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Sports Special

December 11, 2012

St. John's Prep hoopsters lacking experience, but not ambition

(Continued)

“We had a group of kids (prior to this season) who went through the wars together and won a lot of tough, close games,” said Connolly. “We’re kind of starting over with all this inexperience. But I love the way the kids are working at it.”

The Eagles got around to picking their captains late last week and came up with a quartet: seniors Costello, Tyler Dooley and Syska, and the junior Butterbrodt, who played a large part in organizing offseasons workouts.

Butterbrodt looms as the starting center and is built for the task. “He’s physical and he rebounds well. We’re going to need (toughness) from him,” said Connolly.

Meanwhile, Judson is perhaps the most intriguing player on the roster because he showed glimpses of being a difference maker as a freshman last season. “He’s long and athletic and has what I would call a big upside. Hopefully, he can put it together this season,” said Connolly.

The backcourt looks more reliable heading into the season because there are a couple of experienced players in the group. Six-footer Drex Costello is in his third varsity season, can drill the three and play the type of defense that Connolly demands. And Dooley, a 6-foot senior from North Andover, was a major surprise last year, keying a pair of wins over Xaverian and another over Westford Academy late in the year.

“Costello and Dooley are really our two (returning) scoring leaders,” noted Connolly. “Drex brings toughness and defense, and Dooley has improved by leaps and bounds. He won some big games for us down the stretch last year. He needs to have a great year if we’re going to be successful.”

A couple of players from the Prep’s football team, which handily won the Super Bowl over Brockton, will need to catch up on conditioning and everything else, but Connolly will be happy to see Sean Lovett, a junior forward/center, and Jake Burt, a sophomore wing player.

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