Day 1B of the Christmas tournament is now in the books, and I must state that it was a lot more entertaining than the two opening night drubbings.
After the four games, here are 10 quick observations in no specific order.
1. Jaylen Alicea showed mega improvement on the point for Lawrence. Kid is a bullet from end to end, quick and dangerous. Might have been the biggest surprise for me in two nights. Willed his team to win. I liked that.
2. If you watch nothing in the semifinals, watch the defense slung by Luis Puello. He’s nasty (in a good way folks). Just Velcro man. Makes for an interesting one-on-one duel in the Central-Salem semi when coach Rick Nault clamps him down on sharpshooter Alex LaRosa.
3. Who knew this freshmen class was going to be this impactful this quick? If Joel Berroa can find minutes at Central, he looks to fit the part well. Derek Collins didn’t have a great shooting night, but I saw greatness in the Knight rook when he tossed that fullcourt assist, hitting Zac Iovanella in stride. And plain and simple, Sam Dowden raised Andover from the ruins.
4. Great to see the recent LHS alums return to support this team. Spirited group, along with the students, a lot of familiar faces, Carlos, Jorge, Hector, just great to see the pride.
5. Is it me or is the $1 program a new thing? Perhaps I missed the memo. Hey, maybe it’s been a $1 for the last few years. I just always thought it was free.
6. Did anyone take a peak at my man Ben Proulx and the game he had last night, almost spurring the Pinkerton upset? Let me tell you, in a weaker-than-usual Class L, the tandem of Proulx and 6-foot-7 freight train Zach Mathieu should cause all sorts of problems in the Granite State. The Astros matter.
7. I have to be honest, after watching Carson Desrosiers run the floor in Vegas this summer and dominate on a team of Cadillacs in a tournament laden with Lexuses, it’s tough to appreciate him playing the role of facilitator as teams surround him with four bodies. That said, you got the immediate impression that he and the Raiders are more than comfortable letting Jimmy Zenevitch punish the opposition for focussing all that attention on the big fella.
8. Andover might be favored in the semi with Lawrence, but never underestimate the grit and fire a competitor like Michael Calzetta brings to the table.
9. If I had to guess four players ready to step up in the semis, that you may or may not expect: I’d watch Salem’s Matt Cannone, Central’s Michael Alvarez, Andover’s Jimmy Johnson and Lawrence’s Yadoris Arias.
10. Can we give it up for Eagle-Tribune Sports Editor Michael Muldoon for a minute? I have pummeled the guy over the years for some really weird – and almost always unfunny – nicknames. Jay “The K” Yennaco leaps to mind here. But to brand Andover’s Joe Bramanti as the “Brama Bull” is sheer genius. That one’s going to stick. It may never reach the amazing stature achieved by Andover’s (and the Lowell Sun’s) Rick Harrison, who during the Golden Gloves tabbed a young Marvin Hagler “Marvelous,” but this time, Mike, you nailed it.
Hey folks, seriously, have a great holiday.
And please be careful out there.