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February 4, 2013 Peter McClelland
DANVERS, Mass. -- St. John’s Prep never trailed in this one.
St. John’s Prep had a 14-point lead in the third quarter and an 11-point lead in the last quarter.
But that all being said, St. John’s had to hang on for dear life to defeat Central Catholic, 55-52, on Sunday afternoon before a full house at the Prep.
After the Eagles (15-1) put that 53-42 lead in place with four minutes left in the game, the Raiders (13-3) ran off ten straight points. That streak of offense got Central Catholic to within a point (53-52) with thirty-eight seconds left.
A St. John’s turnover (they had four in the quarter) followed (five second violation) and the Eagles miscue gave CC plenty of time, 26 seconds, to complete the comeback.
But the Raiders didn’t get there. They turned the ball over on their next possession (Drex Costello steal) and Costello made a free throw. They recorded another turnover on their second possession (bad pass Nick Cambio) and Ben Judson made a free throw with less than a second left to finish the scoring.
If St. John’s had lost this game it would have been because of poor foul shooting. The final quarter was a nightmare at the line for the Eagles. Granted, there was plenty of pressure, but when you make only 2-of-7 free throws after you have an 11-point lead with four minutes left, you’re asking for trouble. And to top it off, two of those misses were on the front end of one-and-one’s.
The Eagles jumped on the Raiders right from the start with seven unanswered points (jumpers by Costello and Josh Syska followed by a Tyler Dooley three) in the first 2 ½ minutes.
Early in the second quarter, Central Catholic ran six straight (two layups Cambio and two free throws Tyler Nelson) to pull within two (18-16).
The Eagles came right back with six of their own on layups (Costello, Max Butterbrodt, and Jake Burt off a steal) to get that eight-point lead back, 24-16.
St. John’s had a 32-24 halftime edge.
The Eagles pushed their advantage, in the third quarter, to 40-26 and later 46-32 before the Raiders rallied with six unanswered (two free throws Cambio and two layups Nelson and Joel Berroa) to lower their deficit to eight (46-38) after three periods.
St. John’s was back in the double-digit comfort zone, 53-42, in the final quarter with four minutes left before the Raiders made the run that nearly stole this one from the Eagles.
Berroa (18 points) and Cambio (14 points) led the CC scorers. Central Catholic was missing 6-foot-8 Andrew Hamel.
Costello (13 points) and Tyler Dooley were the top point-getters for the Eagles.
The two teams will meet again at Central Catholic on Feb. 17.
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