Pope John XXIII High School’s Leo Boucher was named the Boston Globe Coach for the Year in Division 4.
Boucher led the Tigers to the state championship this season with a 24-1 record. Pope John also won its own hoop invitational tournament and the Catholic Central League and North sectional titles.
Boucher was humbled by the award, the second time he was so recognized by the Globe.
“It was actually a nice surprise,” said Boucher. “It
funny, I always say, ‘kids win games, coaches lose games,’ “but it was a very nice surprise – it was quite an honor.”
Boucher previously served as the head coach at St. Clement, a school he led to the state championship in 2014. After St. Clement closed its doors last June, Boucher became the head coach at Pope John.
Pope John Athletic Director Ryan Murphy said that Boucher’s recognition was well deserved.
“Leo Boucher exemplifies everything an athletic director would want in a head coach,” said Murphy. “Leo is great for the school and great for the kids. We could not be more proud of all his accomplishments.”
Boucher has been one of the state’s most successful coaches in boys basketball. During the last five years, his teams at St. Clement and Pope John have won two state titles and more than 100 games.
This season presented an interesting challenge as the former St. Clement players entered the Pope John program.
Boucher built them in to a state championship team, clearing some major hurdles along the way.
“At midseason we started to come together,” said Boucher. “I thought in the game that we struggled in at Austin Prep, the team really came together and different players started to step up and do things.”
Boucher said that junior guard Angel Price-Espada “obviously dominated the final [with 49 points in the state championship game], but Michael Thompson and Mehkhi Collins were great in the Garden, Marquis was great versus Austin Prep and Luis Velasquez had 10 points and 11 rebounds against Maynard. This was a special group of kids who deferred to each other and stepped up when they had to.”
Boucher said as the Tigers defeated some very good opponents in the second half of the season, the momentum began to build “and they started to realize they could do what every plays wants to do: win their last game on the last day of the season.”
The Tigers showed their mettle in the state tournament, earning an overtime victory over Winthrop, defeating South champion Mashpee in a Garden thriller, and then unseating defending champion Maynard in the state final at Springfield College.
“I’m really proud of what they accomplished,” said Boucher.
Price-Espada named All-Scholastic
The Pope John coach said he was proud of Angel Price-Espada, who was named to the Boston Herald and Boston Globe All-Scholastic Boys Basketball Teams.
“He scored his 1,000th point during the tournament and his performance out in Springfield was sensational – if there were a Division 4 player of the year, he was it,” said Boucher, who added that colleges have the dynamic, 5-foot-7-inch guard on their radar.