Townies return even stronger
Division 1 North is stacked with talent yet again this season. Charlestown, which is returning four starters, has emerged as a favorite.
Under coach Edson Cardoso, the Townies have improved each season, going 7-11, 12-10, and 22-3.
Last season, Cardoso’s squad was tops in the state in points (81.5) and points allowed per game (55.2), a feat they’d like to repeat.
“We know we have a bull’s-eye on our backs after winning the Boston City title last season and making the run we did,’’ said Cardoso. “But with nine guys back the commitment on this team to succeed is higher than any I’ve seen before.’’
Rony Fernandez returns at point guard after averaging 13 points and seven assists as a junior.
Forward Tyrese Hoxter has emerged as the Townies’ top scorer after averaging 14 points and eight rebounds as a sophomore.
Senior Iser Barnes has made the jump from sixth man to starting shooting guard. He’s the Townies’ top defender after averaging three steals off the bench last season.
Cardoso’s offense takes full advantage of his team’s speed and athleticism.
“I don’t like to micromanage the kids,’’ he said. “I tell them that the first five seconds of every possession are theirs. If they can push the ball down and get a layup or an open jumper, then go for it. If not, the rest of the clock is mine and we’ll run a set.’’
“I plan to rotate in 10 to 11 guys every game. We’re going to press and run a lot this season. Teams aren’t going to be putting up 70 points against us. We expect to hold a lot of teams in the 50s.’’
Central Catholic is a contender in the North for the fourth year in a row.
After graduating leading scorer and Globe All-Scholastic Jimmy Zenevitch, the Raiders will be a guard-oriented team with Luis Puello and last season’s sixth man, Tyler Nelson, stepping into leadership rolls.
Puello, a junior, averaged 10 points and eight boards last season and has experience playing in big games.
“What’s special about Luis is that he can dominate a game on the defensive end of the court,’’ said coach Richard Nault. “We’re going to generate a lot of our offense off our defense this season. It’s going to be different from years past when we would just pound the ball down low. It’s an adjustment, but the kids have really bought into it.’’
Even with the loss of Division 1 player of the year Pat Connaughton, you can’t count out reigning state champion St. John’s Prep as a serious contender.
Steve Haladyna put up 38 points in the first game of the season for the Eagles, and as of Friday, the senior was 24 points shy of 1,000 for his career. Lynn English, with athletic senior Keandre Stanton, is a team to watch as well.
In the South, teams to watch will be Catholic Memorial, which can shoot the lights out, and BC High, although it got some bad news last week when it was learned injured big man Dan Curtis won’t return this season.
New Mission is the favorite in Division 2 North. The Titans lost eight seniors from last season’s state championship team, but have reloaded. What the Titans lack in experience, they more than make up for in size, strength, and toughness.
Six-foot-six-inch junior forward Nate Anderson and 6-3 senior guard Leroy Hamilton are the lone returnees with experience.
“When you’re young and you don’t know any better, you can’t be scared,’’ said New Mission coach Cory McCarthy.
The Titans have turned point guard duties over to Gregory Bridges, whom McCarthy calls “the best freshman to come into the City League in a long time.’’
Bridges racked up 15 steals in New Mission’s first two games.
McCarthy plans to rotate 12 guys and make opposing teams work for every point.
“I don’t care if we get into foul trouble, no one is getting to the rim on us,’’ said McCarthy. “If a team does, that’ll get one of my guys a seat on the bench.’’
King Philip, led by Maryland-bound big man Jake Layman, will be a factor in the Division 2 South, but will need to get past Stoughton and junior scorer Aaron Calixte.
Last season’s Division 3 South champ, Cardinal Spellman, has four starters back and looks primed to make another run. Joey Glynn notched his 1,000th point last week.
The Donovan brothers (Ricky and Rory) give the Cardinals solid size, with both checking in at around 6-6.
St. Mary’s, after taking St. John’s Prep to overtime in its first game, has emerged as the early favorite in Division 4.