LAWRENCE, Mass. -– Cambridge outscored New Bedford by 21 in the second half to cruise to a 74-46 win in the first semifinal at the Roundball Classic at Central Catholic.
“I didn't think we did a great job of rebounding or defending in the first half,” Cambridge coach Lance Dottin said. “I wanted to make sure we emphasized that coming out of the locker room in the second half, and then we were able to get some fast break opportunities against their press.”
The Falcons shut down the Whalers early in the second half, blowing a nine-point halftime lead out to 13 quick and putting the pedal down.
Junior center Fredens Deneus (17 points, 13 rebounds) crushed on both ends of the floor, while Demetrius Woodson buried four 3-pointers en route to 17 points from the guard spot. Junior shooting guard Isaiah McLeod added 10 points.
“I just thought that the kids did a good job of executing,” Dottin said. “We were able to get the ball inside a little late with Eric [Smith-Sokol] and Fredens which was nice. It was nice to see those guys get those opportunities.”
The Whalers were unable to deal with the Falcons size. Cambridge held double-digit rebound advantage for the bulk of the game. On the defensive end, Falcon rebounds opened up the transition game and allowed the guards to flourish.
“It improves the team's chemistry even more,” Woodson said. “We can keep focusing and get everybody touches. In practice we try to keep spacing the defense out, get better shots, and create post plays.”
The Whalers offensive rolled as junior guard Quincy Pope did. Pope pumped in 16 points and pulled down six rebounds, but he didn't get much help around him. Dillon Kuehne had eight points for the Whalers, and Jaleal Massey added six points of his own.
While New Bedford's guards did damage, Woodson and McLeod always had an answer. The duo combined for six three-point baskets and moved the ball quickly with ease.
“I've played with him my whole life,” McLeod said. “We started [in] AAU together. It's pretty easy; we got good chemistry.”
Sometimes the most important parts of an engine are the parts you can't see. While Deneus was dominating the lane and Woodson was raining baskets, Diandre Shouder-Williams kept the motor running.
Shouder-Williams played for most of the game and put up 10 points and nine rebounds.
“Diandre is sort of our Mr. consistency,” Dottin said. “The other night he had 17 and 13. He's a guy that comes in and plays every single night. He's a very good basketball player.”
Having another big body in the paint will certainly help the Falcons as it goes for the tournament title today against Central Catholic.
“I love playing with Diandre,” Deneus said. “He grabs rebounds with me, he's got a pull-up game; he's the whole package. If he keeps working he could be something special.”
MONDAY NIGHT MAYHEM
To say that Division 1 North is a mess would be an understatement. Central, Cambridge, St. John's Prep, Everett, and others will be in the hunt for the top seed in a crowded tournament.
Tonight's final will go a long way in terms of seeding for the North section as well as potentially provide a boost for the Falcons.
“Tomorrow night is certainly a big challenge,” Dottin said. “It's not like we don't know both of them; I've seen both of them over the course of the year. It's good for us. We need this challenge going into the tournament.”
Against New Bedford, the Falcons came out flat but were able to rebound. Another early stumble like that will be punished by Central's speed and athleticism.
“We got to play better than today,” Woodson said. “We had a few errors that we could have did better, especially defensively.”