Sports 03-08-2016

Fenwick ousts St. Mary’s from MIAA State Tournament, 56-40

By Cary Shuman

The St. Mary’s High School girls basketball team beat some of the best teams in Massachusetts – Revere Rockland, and Martha’s Vineyard to name three – but couldn’t topple its Catholic Central League rival, Bishop Fenwick, this season.

A very deep and talented Fenwick contingent started quickly and kept the pressure on for four quarters on its way to defeating St. Mary’s, 56-40, in the Division 3 North semifinals Tuesday at Essex Tech. It was Fenwick’s third victory over the Spartans.

The Crusaders bolted to a 17-2 lead after one quarter and 29-14 at the half to take firm control of the game. The Crusaders did what few teams were able to do this season: contain St. Mary’s sensational sophomore guard, Marnelle Garraud, who was held to eight points. Olivia Nazaire, another talented sophomore, led St. Mary’s with 15 points. Kayla Carter, playing the last game of an outstanding career that was highlighted by her tremendous defensive play, contributed eight points. The other scorers were Temi Falayi (4 points), Mia Nowicki (3), and Katie Dixon (2).

Fenwick senior Syndey Brennan had 17 points, including four three-pointers. Fredi DeGugliemo had 14 points while Colleen Corcoran and Jaxson Nadeau each had nine points.

Fenwick coach Adam DeBaggis felt the difference in the game was his team’s defensive effort.

“Just constant, good defense,” said DeBaggis. “We hit some really big shots and we had kids like Jaxson [Nadeau] and Ellen [Fantozzi] who played such great defense. We played them three times and pretty much every time it’s gone that way – we’ve played very, very consistently defensively and I think it really bothers them.”

What did Fenwick do to slow down Garraud, the Spartans’ leading scorer?

“We put our two best defenders on her and made sure we knew where she was at all times,” said DeBaggis.

St. Mary’s High School coach Jeff Newhall credited Fenwick after the game.

“Tonight it’s Fenwick’s night and all the best to them,” said Newhall. “This isn’t a one-game fluke-type situation. It’s happened three times.”

Newhall said the program is losing a great senior class to graduation. “They’ve won over 100 games, a state title, two league championships but we have some good young players and the future is very bright here.”

St. Mary’s boys basketball ready for D4 North final

By Joyce Erekson

Losing in the state tournament is no fun, but never underestimate its motivational value.

Last year the St. Mary’s boys basketball team lost in the Division 4 North semifinals. On Friday night, the Spartans will be playing Pope John for the North title at Tewksbury High (7).

“Our goal was to get back to the North final where we were two years ago,” St. Mary’s coach Dave Brown said. “Last year we lost in the semis to Hamilton-Wenham. That was our motivation last (Monday) night.”

The Spartans earned a crack at the No. 1 seeded Tigers with a 78-56 win over Lowell Catholic Monday at Billerica. Brown said the team did a great job getting the ball inside to the big guys and that really opened it up for everyone else. St. Mary’s had five players in double figures with junior forward Jonathan Mola (16 points, 10 rebounds) leading the way. Calvin Johnson (15 points), Jonny Mercado (14 points), Matt Cross (13 points, 10 rebounds) and Joe Fama (10 points, 6 rebounds) also came up big.

The Spartans got their season off to a rocky start, going 4-4 in the first eight games. The killer was back-to-back losses at the buzzer to Archbishop Williams and Cardinal Spellman.

“Those (losses) were really tough, but the kids rebounded. The kids improved,” he said, noting that the team only lost one more (vs. Lawrence in the Spartan Classic) on the way to its current 17-5 record.

“We really came together,” Brown said. “We had a stretch where we won nine or 10 games in a row. The last few games we’ve played really well as a team.”

The Spartans have already played Pope John once this season (in the Spartan Classic) and won 73-66. Brown knows his team is in for a battle.

“They’re the No. 1 seed for a reason,” Brown said. “I expect a dogfight. They have three tremendous players who all score in the 20s.”

Brown said despite the Tigers’ firepower, he thinks his own team has more depth. Johnson is averaging 16 points per game; Mercado, the Catholic Central League MVP, is averaging 13 points per game and eighth grader Matt Cross is averaging 8.5 points with 11 rebounds.

Brown will be coaching against a person he knows well, Matt Karakoudis. Karakoudis played at St. Mary’s when Brown was on the coaching staff. Brown left Karakoudis’ junior year to coach at Winthrop High, where he went to the North final three times and won a state title in 2011. This is his third year as head coach at St. Mary’s. In 2014 the team lost to St. Clement in the North final and last year the Spartans fell in the North semifinals.

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