Two days after clinching the Catholic Conference title, third-ranked St. John’s Prep was back on the court Sunday, and escaped with a 55-52 victory over No. 4 Central Catholic in Danvers.
In front of their raucous fans at a jam-packed Memorial Gymnasium, the Eagles (15-1) came out firing from the opening tip, taking the early lead and never looking back. Prep had an 8-point lead at the half and extended that to 14 points in the third, yet the Raiders were able to rally to within 1 behind captain Joel Berroa, who finished with 18 points.
“Nothing is going to be easy when you play Central,’’ said coach Sean Connolly. “Even when we were up we knew it wasn’t over with them. They play too hard and are too well-coached for that.’’
Despite never having a lead, the Raiders (13-3) continued to play physical and their half-court press started to slice into the deficit. Trailing by 5 with a little over a minute to play, Eagles captain Tyler Dooley (12 points) split two free throws before the Raiders cut it to a 1-point lead.
Prep was called for a five-second violation on an inbounds pass, giving the ball back to Central Catholic. With 13.4 ticks left, Prep came up with a crucial steal.
After being intentionally fouled, Eagles guard Drex Costello (13 points) hit one of two free throws, giving St. John’s a 2-point lead. Another late turnover doomed the Raiders and sealed the Eagles’ victory.
“They’re a solid team, they really don’t have a weakness,’’ said Central Catholic coach Rick Nault, whose team has lost two of its last three games. “They have five guys that could do a lot of different things. This is the best backcourt I’ve seen all year.’’
Newton North 72, Brockton 57 — Senior Tommy Mobley led the way for the No. 15 Tigers with 40 points.
Bishop Feehan 73, Norwood 50 — Senior Sam Forget scored 18 points and had seven rebounds while sophomore Frank Ofring added 16 points and nine rebounds for the Shamrocks.
Concord-Carlisle 67, Burke 56 — Zach Dowd scored 20 points for the Patriots.
Stoneham 65, St. Joseph’s Prep 29 — Spartans senior Eric Mooney poured in 15 points.
Pope John 57, Maimonides 30 — Junior Linda Perry hit five 3-pointers in scoring 17 points for the Tigers (14-2).
Taunton 58, Coyle & Cassidy 56 — Senior Angie Martinez led the Tigers with 29 points and 19 rebounds.
Middleboro 12, Wareham 2 — Senior forward Brandon Lavelle had three goals and three assists, and the Sachems clinched a state tournament berth for the third year in a row.
St. John’s Prep 36, Shawsheen 25 — Down, 25-22, with three matches to go, the Eagles (38-3) got wins from senior John Polanski, sophomore Ian Betterbrodt, and senior Corey Jean-Jacquest to defeat the Rams in the final of the Division 1 Mass Wrestling Coaches tournament at Chelmsford.