Here are some interesting tidbits in boysí basketball right now:
1. Two Top 10 showdowns in the MVC Friday night -- A pair of enticing matchups will take place a mere five miles apart on Friday night when No. 4 Lowell travels to No. 1 Central Catholic and No. 6 Andover hosts No. 7 North Andover. There is no denying the Merrimack Valley is the top league in the state, and these two contests will go a long way to determining who wears the regular season crown. The Scarlet Knights ended any hope of a 1 vs. 2 battle when they handed the Red Raiders their first loss of the season, 57-55, on Friday. Iíll be interested to see what tempo Lowell plays with. Central has thrived on players like sharpshooter Tyler Nelson getting open off transition, so going too fast and turning the ball over could spell disaster for the visitors. But in the early part of the season, Lowellís up-tempo attack proved to be an advantage. Just south on Route 28, can North Andover avenge their only loss of the season to their rivals?
2. New contenders challenging Mansfield in the Hockomock -- As expected, No. 3 Mansfield has established itself as the team to beat in the Hockomock, but a pair of new clubs are not far behind. No. 12 Taunton and No. 19 Milford -- each in their first year in the league -- have begun a combined 16-1, and the squads met Tuesday night on the South Coast. The Hornets defeated the Tigers last week, but by a slim six points. Mansfield has company at the top of the Hockomock standings, and it doesnít look like either Taunton or Milford is going to fade any time soon.
3. Whatís wrong with Wakefield? -- One of the biggest surprises to me was the fall of Wakefield, which tumbled from No. 6 to No. 20 after a pair of losses last week. It was especially eye-opening to see the way the Warriors were handled by visiting Melrose on Tuesday night at home, losing 61-44. Sophomore Bruce Brown has been out with an injury, and itís clear what impact his loss is on the lineup. Wakefield had its two lowest-scoring outputs of the season in Brownís absence. Coach Brad Simpson will need to make some adjustments to keep his team on track until his star guard is fully healthy.
4. Road show continues for Catholic Memorial -- I canít imagine too many coaches would enjoy the schedule Catholic Memorialís Denis Tobin has had thus far. The No. 18 Knights played their first seven games on the road, and their home opener was spoiled by a sizzling St. Peter-Marian team that pulled a 54-49 upset Jan. 6. CM is again in the midst of a four-game road swing, including contests at No. 2 St. Johnís Prep and No. 9 BC High. Tobinís club will get to play six of its final seven in their own building, but life on the road could bump the Knights out of the Top 20 by then.
5. Points aplenty for Panthers -- Iíll be keeping my eye on Whitman-Hanson going forward. The Panthers spent their holiday break in Orlando (sadly the Globe didnít send me to cover their games) for the Chick-fil-A Classic, and W-H defeated a pair of Florida clubs to take third place. The team has rolled through their in-state competition, winning all but one game by at least 19 points. The offense has been the story thus far in averaging 70 points per game, led by top scorer Shane Devlin. The Panthers are well on their way to a Top 20 position.
Several reporters and editors contribute updates, news and analysis to the High School Sports Blog.
- Bob Holmes: A Reading resident (Go Rockets!) and Boston College graduate, Holmes is the Boston Globe High School Sports Editor. We remind you now that his weekly picks are often made in jest so everyone just calm down when he picks against Everett for 11 straight weeks. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeHolmes.
- Craig Larson: A native of West Springfield (Leo Durocher anyone? Tim Daggett?) and Curry College graduate (a proud Colonel!), Larson is the sports editor for the Globe's regional sections: South, West and North, as well as a frequent contributor on the college beat. Abington to Xaverian: it all starts with the schools. Have a compelling story idea? Contact him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeLars.
- Zuri Berry: Berry attended the same high school as sports legends O.J. Simpson and Joe DiMaggio. (Guess which one is his hero.) He's a South Boston resident (formerly of Eastie) and the editor of the High School Sports blog as well as the go-to-guy for everything high school sports on Boston.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @GlobeSchools for all of the latest updates.
Then there are our fall correspondents:
- Anthony Gulizia | @gulizia_a | Div. 1 football
- Eric Russo | @erusso22 | Div. 2 football
- Stephen Sellner | @stephen_sellner | Div. 3 football
- Andrew MacDougall | @Andy_MacDougall | Div. 4 football
- Greg Joyce | @GJoyce9 | Div. 5 football
- Lorenzo Recupero | @LorenzoRecupero | Div. 6 football
- Liz Torres | @etorres446 | Girls volleyball
To reach the high school sports department, e-mail email@example.com.