PEABODY– St. Mary’s sophomore forward Ademide Badmus could do no wrong Friday night at Bishop Fenwick. Badmus carried his Spartans to a 73-38 victory with 22 points and 10 rebounds on 9-of-12 shooting.
“I told our kids that Fenwick has some size,” St. Mary’s coach Dave Brown said, “but those kids wouldn’t be able to handle Ademide on the block because he’s so big and strong. The kid from Fenwick (guarding Ademide, Christian Loescher) is a good athlete. He’s a sophomore, he’s going to be good down the road. But Ademide’s like a man-child out there. He’s a real strong kid with big legs and good shoulders.”
Fenwick coach Kevin Moran shared a similar take.
“Badmus is an absolute stud in the paint with his size,” Moran said. “Especially these days, it’s tough. Our guys are pretty athletic and lean. Badmus is athletic, big, solid, and gave us tons of problems in the paint.”
Jalen Echevarria added 18 points with six assists and two steals. Joseph Abate-Walsh scored seven points with six rebounds and three blocks. Lee Pacheco and Ali Barry each scored six points.
Fenwick’s Nik Pignone led the Crusaders with 16 points. Loescher finished with six.
“That’s what we expected from Nik,” Moran said. “He’s a senior leader. He’s going to come out and hit a couple three’s. We were down by a lot so the pace changes a little bit. We got a couple clean looks and he hit them. He’s a good player. Hopefully we’ll build on this. We knew coming in it’d be very tough.”
For the first few minutes, the game was back-and-forth. Abate-Walsh scored the opening bucket on an alley-oop from Josh Perez. Pignone netted a 3-pointer on Fenwick’s first possession to answer the Spartans. Badmus took over from there, powering his way through Fenwick’s defense for points in the post. At the end of the first quarter, the Spartans led 17-9.
Things got out of hand in the second quarter when the Crusaders fell into a flurry of turnovers. Marcus Brunson-Perez’s jump shot gave the Spartans their first double-digit lead of the night, 19-9. St. Mary’s, with an aggressive defensive scheme, turned defense into offense and watched its lead climb into the 20’s. Fenwick was limited to just four points in the second period and trailed 38-13 at halftime.
“I think the guys just picked it up a little bit,” Brown said. “They were very excited for tonight’s game. Obviously it’s a rivalry game. After what happened on Thanksgiving Eve (Fenwick 60-0 win over St. Mary’s), guys were pretty hyped up. Once we sped the game up, our competition level is something they haven’t seen all year. They weren’t used to that game speed but Fenwick competed. They played us even in the third quarter so they competed hard.”
A pair of Badmus freebies (he went 4-of-6 at the free throw line) and an Echevarria 3-pointer pushed St. Mary’s lead into the 30’s (43-13). A 10-run later, capped by Chibuikem Onwuogu’s turnaround hook, extended the Spartans’ lead into the 40’s (53-13). Loescher hit a basket to get Fenwick back on track. The Crusaders found their groove toward the end of the third quarter but the game was well out of hand by then. Brown emptied his bench in the fourth quarter as St. Mary’s coasted to its 12th win of the season.
The Spartans (12-0) travel to Cathedral Monday morning (10) to battle with fellow Division 3 powerhouse Burke.
“Fenwick came in here 8-2,” Brown said. “They won some close games so they’re battled tested. Now we have Burke, who I believe is ranked No. 18 in the state. That’s what we try to do, we try to schedule the best teams we can possibly schedule to prepare for the state tournament.”
Fenwick (8-3) is off until January 27 when it hosts Manchester-Essex (2).