The unranked Haverhill Hillies came out strong against No. 2 Central Catholic last night, and looked to upset their conference foe. But in the third quarter, a recharged Raiders team stormed the court, led by senior captain Jimmy Zenevitch, and ran away with a 68-49 victory to improve to 16-1 on the season.
"To be honest, I thought we played very selfish basketball in the first half," Central Catholic coach Rick Nault said. "In the second half, we were making the extra pass, looking for open guys and attacking the basket more. That was the difference."
Zenevitch, who's averaging 18.8 points per game on the season, added 17 in the win. Sophomore forward Joel Berroa chipped in 13, while senior guard Jaycob Morales and freshman sharp-shooter Tyler Nelson finished with 11 points apiece.
For the Raiders, not only did the offense pick up in the second half, but they also tuned up their defense. Nault ordered a full-court press that troubled the Hillies, leading to an abundance of turnovers and transition baskets.
"It was probably the worst defensive half of basketball we ever played in the first half," Nault said. "The energy was their in the second half and the kids responded. We trapped a little and we created some turnovers and got some easy buckets as a result."
The Raiders defense successfully shut down Haverhill's star sophomore center Noah Vonleh, who finished with just 12 points.
With the win against Haverhill, Nault and the Raiders can now focus on their matchup with No. 9 Andover Feb. 17. The two will face off for the third time this year after splitting the first two contests.
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