With 52 seconds remaining against St. John's Prep on Wednesday night, and the score tied 59-59, Central Catholic basketball coach Rick Nault called a timeout.
He wanted to draw up one last play for the Raiders, with a particular goal in mind. Get the ball to Carson Desrosiers.
"In the last two minutes, we go to him every single trip," the coach said.
The 6-foot-11 senior scored the final six points as Central was able to hang on, 65-61, in what could be a preview of the Division 1 North final in a few weeks.
"I don't want to play them again," Nault said. "They're so well-coached. They're so disciplined. They can beat anyone on any given night. It was a state tournament type atmosphere."
Desrosiers, who will play basketball for Wake Forest in the fall, finished with 23 points, 15 rebounds, and 12 blocked shots.
"Carson is a great player," said St. John?s Prep coach Sean Connolly. "It's tough to contain a great player like that."
The Eagles have averaged more than 75 points per game this season, but were held to 61 by the tough defensive unit led by Desrosiers and 6-foot-7 junior Jimmy Zenevitch.
With roughly1,800 fans packing the seats of Central's Memorial Gymnasium, the Raiders admitted to having the advantage. Desrosiers estimated that they haven't lost at home in nearly four years.
"There's no other place in the state that has an atmosphere like that," Nault said. "It just gives the kids a lift. How can you not be excited to play in front of a crowd like that."
"It's a tough challenge, coming in here and playing here with the crowd, but our kids battled," Connolly said. "Playing against Central is a measuring stick. They're usually one of the best teams in the north. Now we know what we have to work on."
Prep junior forward Patrick Connaughton was immense in the loss, scoring 26 points and emerging through double- and triple-team defense.
"Connaughton is just outstanding," Nault said. "We threw our best defensive players at him with Carson sitting on him too, and it seemed like it didn't matter."
Central will likely receive the No. 1 seed in the Division 1 North bracket when the MIAA releases its tournament pairings tomorrow, while St. John's Prep should be somewhere among the top four.
"We're very hungry," Nault said of his team's desire to do well in the postseason. "I tell my kids they need to enjoy this. I don't know if we'll be this good again in the future, so they should have fun every time they step out on the floor."
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