LYNN — The St. Mary’s boys basketball team got off to a fast start and never looked back Thursday night, scoring 55 points in the first half en route to a 97-69 win over Catholic Central League rival Bishop Fenwick at Tony Conigliaro Gymnasium. The Spartans brought a suffocating style of defense, throwing Fenwick off rhythm and forcing a number of turnovers.
“We wanted to try a few different things tonight on both sides of the ball, and we tried to play as fast as possible,” said St. Mary’s coach Dave Brown. “Fenwick has been playing really well lately, so we thought if we could speed things up for them we could throw them off rhythm, and we were able to do that. But at the same time, we had a number of guys get pretty tired tonight, so we still have some things we can work on.”
Jalen Echevarria led all scorers with 30 points and five rebounds, while Ademide Badmus put up a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
“Those two guys are tough and they play their individual games so well,” said Brown. “Ademide was able to really use his size to his advantage, and Jalen is playing as well as anyone in the state this year. And when you have games like this where everyone else is contributing too, those guys can really help put us over the top.”
Marvens Rosirus also had a solid game with 11 points and four rebounds, while Joe Abate-Walsh (eight points and six rebounds) and Henri Miraka (eight points and five rebounds) also played solid games. In total, 11 of 13 players made a basket for St. Mary’s.
For Fenwick, Nik Pignone led the way with 25 points and four rebounds. Alex Gonzalez had 10 points and two rebounds, while Jason Romans had nine points and six rebounds. Brett Ross added seven points and two rebounds and JaySean Stuart had six points and six rebounds.
The Spartans got off to a fast start, using a full-court press to force Fenwick into some bad passes early. St. Mary’s capitalized with a number of steals and eventually went on a 14-5 run to open the game. Behind Echevarria’s 14 points in the first quarter, the Spartans took a 30-13 lead into the first break.
The second quarter belonged to Badmus, who used his size to dominate the paint. He finished the first half with 11 points and seven rebounds, and he helped the Spartans jump out to as much as a 29-point lead at one point in the second. Despite a small Fenwick run led by Pignone (14 points in the first half), St. Mary’s still went into halftime with a 55-29 lead.
Things didn’t get any better for Fenwick in the third quarter, as St. Mary’s was able to continuously hit clutch shots to extinguish any chance of a comeback by the Crusaders. Rosirus and Sammy Batista (six points) came off the bench along with Lee Pacheco (two points, five rebounds) to help keep the lead, and St. Mary’s remained ahead by 29 after three, 79-50.
The reserves for both teams played most of the fourth quarter and the Spartans’ lead didn’t change much. By the time the final buzzer sounded, St. Mary’s walked away with the big win.
Fenwick (10-8) will play its final two games of the season in the North Shore Tournament, starting with a first-round game against Masconomet Sunday night.
As for the Spartans (19-1), they will close out the season by hosting the Spartan Classic, starting with a game against Pope John on Tuesday (7).
“We’ve still got two more tough games before the seedings come out, so we have to stay focused,” Brown said. “We’ll be back at practice tomorrow and just keep working to get better.”