LYNN, Mass. -– Erick Rosario's generally quite and calm demeanor plays a crucial role in his success on the court.
One moment appearing to stare off at the stands in a daze the sophomore almost instantly swoops in on someone else's man and is cruising untouched down the court. Never showing his defensive vision in his gaze, the guard nonchalantly turned tough steals into easy layups for No. 6 Lynn English (17-5) all night yesterday.
Leading the way in his team's man-to-man press, Rosario and the Bulldogs never trailed as they cruised to a 76-47 victory over No. 14 Haverhill (12-10) to advance to the Division 1 North semifinals for the fourth time in the past five years.
“For us everything is primarily based out of the man so the trap is always coming from a different direction,” said Lynn English coach Mike Carr. “It is all based of if someone dribbles at you. The hardest thing for us to pick up as a team is what happens behind it (and) for our 'bigs' to rotate.”
Rosario scored 19 points in what was a 23 steal effort for Lynn English.
The Bulldogs frantic pace lead to a 16 point game opening run.
After nine points in four minutes from the paint for English, Rosario nailed a 30-footer to edge ahead 12-0 at 3:30 in the first quarter. A pair of rebounds by Rosario set up layups for junior Danny Lukanda and sophomore Stevie Collins and a 16-0 advantage a minute later.
Lukanda had nine points and 13 rebounds.
“The way we push the ball everyone has a set spot they end up in,” said Carr. “We have a man we call the fly man that we release so we always push to that fly man. If we don't get that fly man then we are supposed to look to the other side.”
Good body position on a layup by senior Shain Roche and a baseline trey through coverage by junior Matthew Jameson cut the margin to 18-7 for Haverhill after one quarter. After gaining little ground in the second, English outscored Haverhill 24 to 9 in the third to seal the victory.
“We were on a little stretch where we made some baskets,” said Haverhill coach Mike Trovato. “I got a chance to watch them Wednesday and I needed my inhaler three times just watching them. We practiced with twelve kids on the court, but sometimes it doesn't work the way you draw it out.”
Rosario hit a pair of top corner three-pointers to help push the margin 49-24 at 4:34, while junior Fred Hogan (12 points) nailed a dish-out assist from behind-the-arc for a 59-28 margin two minutes later.
“I just want to steal the ball that is all that is in my head,” said Rosario. “We practice one-on-one and close outs. That is all we do is practice defense.”
Junior Anthony Dion lead Haverhill with 12 points and six rebounds.
Far From Overlooked: It is hard to believe the Bulldogs were overlooked by anyone headed into last February.
English has jumped onto the scene after winning 13 of its last 14 games including victories against Division 1 top-seeds Springfield Central (17-4) of the West and St. John's Prep (19-3) of the North.
The Bulldogs have an average victory margin of 22 points in their first two playoff games.
“It is a system that takes a while for us to put in,” said Carr. “It is really not till midway through the season that everyone kind off clicks on it. We started off the season 4-4 basically because of that.”