BOSTON -- What goes around comes around. For the second straight week, St. John's Prep reciprocated a tough loss with a gritty win on the road.
Back on Jan. 29, Prep routed defending Division 4 state champ St. Clement in the BABC Holiday Classic two days after getting slammed, 77-35, to national powerhouse St. Anthony (N.J.) This week, they sought similar retribution two days after a tough 69-64 loss to Newton North, and they got it by putting together a close 72-67 win over Boston College High in both teams’ Catholic Conference opener.
The first half was an evenly-matched battle between the two. BC High won the tip off and immediately drew a Prep foul. BC High’s Carl Pierre got his team off quickly with an easy layup off of the inbound pass.
Prep responded quickly, and led for the rest of the half. BC High kept close, however, going into the half trailing 37-34.
Prep came out firing at the beginning of the second half, scoring 10 unanswered points until BC High got on the board for the half. BC High’s first basket of the half sparked momentum, and they matched Prep’s pace for the rest of the half. Ultimately, however, BC High was unable to overpower Prep’s offense, and fell 72-67.
Senior point guard Kareem Davis led Prep in scoring with 14 first-half points, and also added four assists and two rebounds.
“Kareem [Davis] stepped up and made a big basket for us” said Prep coach John Dullea about his team’s late-game performance. “Last game we didn’t execute the way that we wanted to at the end. This game, we emphasized that. We got a few stops, got rebounds, protected the ball.”
“We played well down the stretch,” Davis said. “Last game, we had a lapse towards the fourth quarter. We just had to execute. We started executing in practice, and we picked it up better in this game. Every single game we play BC High they play tough. Their zone gives us trouble.”
In recent weeks, Prep has had trouble shooting free throws, which contributed to their two losses so far. Tonight, Prep capitalized on nearly every opportunity, going 11-for-12 from the charity stripe.
Prep also saw the full return of senior Jake Burt, a 6-foot-4 Boston College football commit who was injured in their loss to national powerhouse St. Anthony (N.J.) Burt helped Prep secure the victory with a strong second-half performance which included four rebounds, two of which were offensive, and two points.
“Jake [Burt] was huge in the last couple of minutes,” said Dullea. “We missed a couple of shots, but he had [the] two [offensive] rebounds and kept the ball alive for us.”
For BC High, this game marks their third loss of the year -- all against teams ranked in the Top 25 of ESPNBoston.com's statewide poll. However, if today’s game is any indication, BC High is on track to have a strong season.
“We play a good schedule, and the teams we play are tough. We’re not making big plays when we need it, but the teams we play are making [them]” said coach Bill Loughnane. “We need to make the plays… We have no easy games on the schedule.”
Prep next faces rival Central Catholic at the TD Garden on Saturday night, in the Good Sports TD Garden Invitational.
“We need to play hard [against Central Catholic]. All they do is get after us, regardless of whether we’re at Central or they are with us,” Davis chuckled. “Our game plan is to get out there, play hard, and have fun.”
“I told these guys that it really doesn’t matter what the records are for either [BC High or Central Catholic] team” said Dullea. “When we play them, it always seems to come down to the last few minutes, so we prepare ourselves for a dogfight. . . We’re expecting a very hard-nosed, down-to-the-wire battle, which is the way we and everybody want it.”