Sports 02-28-2018

Top-seeded Pope John prepares for State Basketball Tournament

The Pope John XXIII High School boys varsity basketball team, under the direction of head coach Leo Boucher, enters the MIAA State Tournament as the No. 1 seed in the Division 4 North Sectionals.

The Tigers, who finished a superb regular season with a 19-1 record, will host the winner of the Excel Academy-Winthrop game in the quarterfinals Saturday (March 3) at 7 p.m.

The Tigers were undefeated in the Catholic Central League and captured their own Pope John Holiday Hoop Classic in December with a convincing 87-65 victory over Winthrop. The Tigers concluded their regular season with a similarly impressive 78-60 decision over Winthrop.

Sophomore guard Angel Price-Espada has emerged as one of the leading scorers in Massachusetts. Price-Espada is a terrific outside shooter and ballhandler.

Other players have also excelled for Pope John,  including Michael Thompson, Marques Bouyer, Mehichi Collins, Cameron Erickson and Luis Velasquez.

Can Pope John bring home its first-ever state basketball championship?

The journey begins Saturday night, with a large crowd, including Head of School Carl DiMaiti and Principal Thomas Mahoney, expected to be on hand at the Pope John gymnasium.

Everett High boys basketball opens State Tournament Thursday

By Cary Shuman

The Everett High School boys basketball team’s first season in the Northeastern Conference could not have gone any better.

The Crimson Tide, led by head coach John DiBiaso, won the NEC title with a perfect 15-0 record. Senior guard Ghared Boyce led the NEC in scoring and has 1,956 career points entering the State Tournament.

Everett (19-1) will begin its quest for the Division 1 state title Thursday at 7 p.m. against the winner of the Medford-Chelmsford game. A victory would give the Tide the opportunity to host a quarterfinal round game Saturday at 2 p.m. Barring a 44-point performance in the first round which is always a possibility with his scoring touch, Boyce could score his 2000th point in front of a large hometown crowd on Saturday.

Head coach John DiBiaso isn’t looking past the tournament opener.

“We’ve had a good week of practice and we’ll be ready,” said DiBiaso. “We’ve played very well and the kids are very excited about playing in the tournament. Now we just have to get that first-round game out of the way.”

One of Everett’s most impressive wins of the season came in a first-place showdown against Lynn English on the Bulldogs’ home court. Everett’s 6-foot-5-inch guard Isaiah Likely was superb in that game. Everett also took home the Eastern Mass. Hoop Invitational crown with wins over St. John’s Prep and Lynn English.

Interestingly, Everett could face English in the Division 1 North semifinals although Lowell (16-4) looms large in the lower half of Everett’s bracket.

Boyce would join girls basketball star Keri Downs in Everett High’s 2,000-point club. Downs scored 2,019 points in her career before going on to play at Dartmouth College.

Boyce, who attended the Beverly-Everett girls basketball tournament game Monday night, is focusing  only on Everett’s first opponent in the tournament.

“We’re an experienced team and we’re taking it one game at a time,” said Boyce, conceding, however, that “it would be a special night if we could make it to the Garden (for the Division 1 state semifinals).”

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