Monday, January 16, 2017

Hobbs Leads No. 12 St. John's Prep Past No. 8 Brighton with Late Rally

By Matt Feld (@mattyfeld612)

BOSTON, - When St. John’s Prep needed a spark, Nate Hobbs was there to provide one.

Trailing No. 8 Brighton by 12 with just under seven minutes to play, the junior guard splashed home three three-pointers to help drive an 18-6 run that evened the contest up at 63. Then, with under a minute left, Hobbs drilled his fourth three-pointer of the second half to give the Eagles their first lead of the game.

Eagles’ power forward Tommy O’Neil proceeded to take matters into his own hands from that point on. The senior forward reeled in a key offensive rebound and sunk two game clinching free throws as No. 12 St. John’s Prep (6-1) picked up their biggest win of the season to date, with a 68-63 victory over Brighton in the BABC Holiday Classic at Cathedral High School.

St. John’s Prep coach John Dullea said a win of this magnitude is huge heading back into conference play.

“(Brighton) is a very good team, they shot the lights out today,” said Dullea. “We don’t get a ton of opportunities against the (Boston) City League. Tomorrow is our next game against Xaverian, and so far we have started off well in our league, so hopefully we can carry this over against some of the tougher competition coming up.”

Late in the third quarter, and with a 47-43 lead, Brighton’s offense came up with a quick spurt that looked bound to put the game away.

Tyrone Perry (20 points) began the run by hitting a three-pointer from the right wing, and Mykle Derring immediately followed with a long-range shot of his own to give the Bengals a 53-43 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.

Brighton continued to put the pressure on at the start of the final frame with Derring knocking down his second consecutive three, handing Brighton a seemingly insurmountable 13-point edge.

The Eagles, however, came storming back.

Brett McNiff (16 points) came up with four points around a Matt Relihan three-pointer to cut the Brighton lead to seven, 57-50.

St. John’s Prep broke out into the full court pressure, instantly forcing a Bengal turnover leading to an and-one lay-up.

Now, with the Eagles back in striking distance, Hobbs (26 points) made his presence known. He drilled a three to get the Prep back within one, 57-56, and hit the game-tying three just a over a minute later.

The Bengals found themselves with a chance to retake the lead with just over a minute to play, but Laqu Howard’s jump shot clanged in and out.

Down at the other end of the floor, O’Neil (11 points, 8 rebounds) led the break, only for his hook shot to come up short. The 6-foot-7 senior was able to come up with the loose ball, though, and fire it back out to Hobbs, who connected on his fourth and final three of the second half to put the Prep in front 66-63.

“We need to get our ball into our big guys,” said Dullea. “We should be able to have an advantage there, and at least even if those guys don’t score get them a touch so they can then pass it out to our better shooters.”

Back on December 28th at Cathedral High School, the Eagles were embarrassed in their only loss of the year, getting run off the floor by Cathedral, 63-41.

Early in this matchup, it felt as though Cathedral was simply a house of horrors for the Prep.

Brighton came out on fire, launching three after three without much difficulty.

On the offensive glass the Bengals had full control, often finding themselves with second, third, and even in some cases a fourth chance opportunity.

During one possession early in the second quarter, Brighton came up with four offensive rebounds, before Derring finally hit one from behind the arc to give his team a 22-12 lead.

The Bengals’ eagerness to fire from long range continued throughout the remainder of the first half, with Perry and Howard each hitting one of their own to hand Brighton a 36-25 advantage going into the break.

St. John’s Prep was able to limit those second chance opportunities in the second half, holding Brighton to just four offensive rebounds over the final two quarters to get back into the game.

The Eagles now return to Catholic Conference play where they will host both Xaverian and No. 2 BC High this week. Brighton, for their part, will be at City League rival Boston Cathedral on Wednesday, before hosting Fenway on Friday.

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