Anthony Silfa of Lynn English may be the city’s most prolific scorer but the breakout performer in the 12th Annual Walter Boverini Basketball Tournament was St. Mary’s eighth grader Matt Cross.
Cross, a 6-foot-6-inch forward/center, was named the Tournament MVP as St. Mary’s defeated Lynn English, 71-50, to win the school’s first Boverini title. The talented 14-year-old player from Beverly had 12 points, 20 rebounds, four assists, five blocks, and two steals in the championship game.
In the Spartans’ win over Lynn Tech in the semifinal, Cross delivered 15 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 blocks.
“It feels great to win the award and the tournament,” Cross told reporters after accepting the MVP award in a midcourt ceremony. “This is my first year at St. Mary’s and I really like it here.”
Cross attended Beverly Middle School last year before deciding to apply to St. Mary’s and seek a varsity spot in coach David Brown’s rising program.
“I visited the school and Iiked it and I felt like I fit in here great,” said Cross, whose father, Jim, played college basketball at Salem State. “I’m learning a lot from coach Brown and my teammates. I think we can have a really good season.”
The Spartans turned in their best performance of the season against English, who had edged Classical, 67-66, in the semifinal. St. Mary’s was able to contain the explosive Silfa, who had a 41-point performance earlier in the season and is a Division 1 college prospect. Silfa was held to 13 points.
“We really paid attention where he was at all times on the floor,” said coach Brown. “The guys communicated well.”
The Spartans (3-2) were in control throughout, paced by the excellent performances of guards Johnny Mercado (14 points), Mike Cerulli, Calvin Johnson (game-high 19 points), and Curtis High, and forwards Joe Fama and Matt Cross.
Brown felt the Spartans took a major step forward against Division 1 English.
“We really grew up as a basketball team the last two games,” said Brown. “I told the kids that this team has all the pieces to be very successful. That’s a great program over there at English. It’s finally great to get a good win over them and take our first Boverini title.”
But the big story of the tournament was the emergence of Matt Cross, whose future is very bright. Brown, a 1,000-point scorer at St. Mary’s and a Westfield State College Hall of Fame inductee, was impressed.
“Matt was tremendous these last two nights,” said Brown. “He set the tempo by rebounding the ball. Talent wise his future is off the charts if he keeps on working and committing. Obviously he’s done something to get this good so hopefully he keeps on getting better and better.”