EVERETT, Mass. — Steve Haladyna knew that the scoring pressures would fall on him this season, and so far the senior forward hasn’t disappointed.
Haladyna scored a game-high 27 points on 12-of-14 shooting, and in the process recorded a milestone with the 1,000th point of his career as St. John’s Prep (3-0) stormed into Everett (0-2) and took home a 66-53 victory on Friday night.
“It’s good to get it over with and we can just focus on the season and focus on the team,” said a humble Haladyna, who also grabbed nine rebounds and recorded four steals. “We’ve got a lot of work to do, but it’s been a good career and I’m really happy.”
The only thing stopping Haladyna in the first half was foul trouble as he had to take a seat with two quick ones in the first quarter after posting the first 9 points of the game for the Prep.
His best work, and record-breaking bucket, came in the third quarter.
Haladyna was as relentless at the hoop as he was at the top of a pressure defense that forced turnover after turnover by the Crimson Tide. In the third, Haladyna scored 13 of his 27 points and got the 1,000th and 1,001st points of his career when Tyler Dooley forced a turnover and got it right to Haladyna for the lay-in and a 52-37 lead.
Time was called in the game, and Haladyna was given the game ball by the referee. He was showered with a round of applause by the Prep's visiting fans, and the Everett hosts.
Haladyna is kind of a throw-back scorer and in this game he showed off more of his inside game instead of showing off the range from deep that he clearly posses. Most of his buckets came on lay-ins and moves in the posts, as he flashed several jump hooks and pivot moves in the post to connect on 85 percent of his shots.
“He’s a very good scorer,” said Prep head coach Sean Connolly. “He just comes up big every time. He’s very good from 10 to 15 feet in. He’s got the floaters and the jump hooks and he’s long and athletic. He’s got very good touch around the hoop.”
Prep runs away with it: For two quarters, Everett did everything it could to disrupt any kind of flow from every other Prep player minus Haladyna. The Crimson Tide held a 29-23 lead at the half, but the Eagles came out with a different defense that completely baffled the home team.
Connolly put Haladyna’s length at the top of a pressure defense and quick-handed freshman point guard Marcos Echevarria was there to lend a hand to force turnovers and turn them into quick buckets on the other end.
The Crimston Tide held a 37-36 lead after a bucket from Tyree Gregory (12 points), but that defensive pressure by the Prep turned a one-point deficit into a 22-1 run in the final four-plus minutes of the half.
Prep forced 13 turnovers in the period and as a team they shot 15-of-18 from the floor after faltering with a 25 percent clip in the first half.
“We couldn’t keep those guys out of the lane, so we wanted to change up the tempo a little bit,” said Connolly. “We got a little pressure in, got some deflections, got some steals and got things going a little bit.”
Everett coach John DiBiaso saw glimpses of that change in philosophy by Connolly before the end of the half, but his team still couldn’t manage to get the ball over half at a consistent rate. Haladyna and Owen Marchetti (12 points) did most of the work at the hoop during the lopsided run.
“We are just inexperienced in the backcourt,” said DiBiaso. “We had trouble with it. When they put (Haladyna) at the top it was tough to throw over it.”