Boyce, excellent team defense help Everett capture Division 1 North championship
Lawrence came charging out of the other side of the Division 1 North bracket, averaging 75 points a game.
But Everett’s defense contained the high-scoring Lancers from the Merrimack Valley Conference in front of an enthusiastic crowd Saturday night at the Tsongas Center in Lowell.
Everett prevailed by a 68-56 margin to capture the North title, thanks in part to senior guard Ghared Boyce, who scored 21 of his game-high 28 points in the second half.
Isaiah Likely, a terrific, two-sport athlete who is heading to Coastal Carolina, played a huge role – as he did all season – with his leadership of the Everett offense.
Caleb Jacobs was also a standout with nine points, helping Everett surge to an early lead.
John DiBiaso said afterwards, “I thought great defense was the difference – any time you hold a team like that to what we held them to – they’re a great offensive team so we had to have done something right on defense.”
Lawrence coach Raymond Nunez agreed, saying, “You need to give them credit in regards to their defensive scheme and also their execution offensively. They’re a great team and well coached.”
“It feels great,” said Ghared Boyce. “This is a lifetime experience. We cherish the moment. We worked hard as a team and we’ll keep moving forward.”
“It was a great team effort,” said Isaiah Likely. “We all discussed how we could beat Lawrence and we came together as a team. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience being able to play at the Garden.”
Mansfield coach pays tribute to DiBiaso in his EHS coaching finale
By Cary Shuman
They don’t just know how great John DiBiaso was in Everett. The Crimson Tide’s basketball and football coach is revered everywhere.
Reporters asked Mansfield coach Michael Vaughn after his team’s 73-65 victory over Everett what it was like coaching against the Bay State coaching giant.
“I got the luxury to meet him [DiBiaso] in the hallway for the first time – I’ve only ever seen him from afar,” said Vaughn. “Obviously I’ve read everything that he’s done in the newspaper, all his accomplishments.”
Vaughn, 39, said he aspires to be a coach the caliber of DiBiaso’s.
“He’s done it in two sports. and I can’t even say how many times I could use the word, ‘amazing,’’’ said Vaughn. “To win that many games in both sports. and he’s done it through multiple eras. He’s won in both sports. and it takes a lot. This is taxing on your family, on your friends, on your life – this [job] is a lot when you do it the right way.”
Vaughn said that younger coaches view DiBiaso as a standard of excellence in the profession.
“Talk about a role model for a younger coach that aspires to be a guy like him,” added Vaughn. “I hope I get all the accolades that he has gotten over his years when I’m all down with this – and I get to go out as prideful as he has. He’s a good man.”
Everett seniors – Isaiah Likely, Ghared Boyce, Caleb Jacobs, Shooby Beldor, Jason Maitre, Jhamal Simon, Marcus Alexis, and Anthony McClain will exit the program along with their head coach.
Together John DiBiaso, the assistant coaches, the seniors, and the entire 2017-18 team gave the community an undefeated Northeastern Conference championship, a Division 1 North title, and a spectacular 23-2 season that ranks as one of the most successful in school history.
Pope John basketball team beats Mashpee at the Garden
Thompson, Collins lead Tigers in to the state finals
By Cary Shuman
Pope John’s brilliant guard Angel Price-Espada was hobbled by a leg injury so head coach Leo Boucher looked to other players to give his team a boost in the decisive fourth quarter of Monday’s state semifinal at the TD Garden.
Senior forward Michael Thompson and junior guard Mehkhi Collins both answered the call with heroic efforts in the final stanza. Thompson scored 12 of his 14 points, including two clutch free throws, in the second half, while Collins had 14 of his game-high 23 points, as North champion Pope John defeated South champion Mashpee, 70-62, on the famous parquet floor.
The Tigers (22-1) advance to the Division 4 state championship game in Springfield against defending state champion Maynard (22-3).
Espada came out dishing and had seven assists, to go along with nine points (11 overall) in the first half as Pope John took a 32-27 lead into intermission. The Tigers’ dependable inside player, Marques Bouyer, also made an early statement with 10 points in the first half as Pope John led 37-32 at intermission. Bouyer also reigned over Pope John’s control the defensive boards. Luis Velasquez helped out the Tigers’ offensive with six points. Cam Erickson, the Tigers’ sharpshooting junior, had a basket while Connor Kelly was a key contributor off the bench, also netting two points.
Velasquez had two hoops in the third quarter before Thompson went on a mini-tear with three baskets and a key steal with the game tied at 49-49. A basket by Collins gave Pope John a 51-49 lead after three quarters.
Pope John was leading 59-57 when Price-Espada left the game after sustaining a right leg injury. He would return to the game, though clearly not at 100 percent.
Collins connected on a free throw and Collins added a basket to keep Pope John ahead, 64-61. Another Thompson hoop, two free throws by Collins, a steal by Velasquez allowed the Tigers to seal the victory.
“That was a terrific basketball game,” said Boucher. “Mashpee just keeps coming at you, they’re a phenomenal basketball team. They were everything we thought they would be and more.”
Collins was a catalyst in the first quarter for the Pope John offense with eight points. He saved his best for last with the game on the line.
“We got together as one unit and played together and we have so much fight – I’m so proud of my teammates, our coaching staff and Pope John” said Collins. “They passed the reins to me and I did what I had to do. My teammates put me in the best position to what I had to do and score.”
Thompson was equally humble about his clutch effort.
“I have to thank my teammates for putting me in that situation,” said Thompson. “I was struggling a little bit, but they kept giving the ball. Their confidence in me and keeping me motivated is what decided those final layups for me.”
Boucher said Collins and Thompson were difference makers in the game.
“I thought our upperclassmen, our junior [Collins] and our senior [Thompson] stepped up,” said Boucher. “Angel was hurt and the leg was bothering him the whole game, but these kids stepped up. They’ve worked hard to get to where they got to, and they won’t be denied. They’re trying to earn the respect they truly deserve.”
Boucher was asked what it meant for the school to be playing in its first state final.
“It’s pretty exciting,” said Boucher. “For a little school like us, we have about 200 boys – our basketball team is just about everything to us, so it’s pretty cool. We have a great administrators, great kids, and great supporters.
Two of those administrators, Head of School Carl DiMaiti and Principal Thomas Mahoney, a member of the school’s first graduating class, sat courtside Monday and will now join a legion of PJ students and alumni in Springfield in search of the school’s first state basketball title.