High school basketball fans saw two of the state’s most outstanding backcourtmen face off in the opening round of Spartan Classic Tuesday night at the Tony Conigliaro Gymnasium.
When all was said and done, St. Mary’s senior guard Jaylen Echevarria scored 32 points in a 72-64 victory over defending Division 4 state champion Pope John XXIII High School. PJ senior guard Angel Price-Espada had 22 points.
St. Mary’s assistant coach Pancho Bingham, who had his own mega-matchup versus Wayland’s Tim O’Shea during his All-Scholastic career for a state champion Lynn Classical contingent, said it was fun to watch the two guards go at it for 32 minutes.
“It was fun to watch, it was a good matchup,” said Bingham, who knew the Price family when he was growing up in Lynn. “Jaylen and Angel are both great players, four-year starters, and can score. Jaylen can put the ball in the basket all night. We had a little more help than Angel.”
Echevarria and Price-Espada, who both stand 5-foot-8, have been competing against each other in travel team and summer tournaments for Lynn and Cambridge respectively.
“Jaylen and I are friends, we’ve been playing against each other for a long time,” said Price-Espada. “Jaylen is one of the best players I’ve seen this season. He made some great shots behind some excellent screens.”
Echevarria also remembered the past meetings on the court with Price-Espada. “Angel and I go way back, we’ve been going at it all the time,” said Echevarria. “It’s amazing to watch we does with the basketball. He’s a special player. But I was definitely excited to play against him tonight.”
Echevarria humbly described his All-Scholastic-caliber, 32-point performance (tying his career high) as “efficient.”
“The last three games, I’ve been efficient and I’m just looking forward to keeping it going for the team,” said Echevarria.
There is a chance that the Echevarria-Price-Espada showdowns could resume in college basketball. Both will be playing at the next level, that’s for sure.
St. Mary’s was set to play against an outstanding Springfield Central team in the Spartan Classic final Wednesday night.