Monday, March 13, 2017

MIAA Boys' Hoops State Semifinal Preview: Division 3

Bartlett's senior-laden team is just a game away from the state championship.
By Matt Feld (@mattyfeld612) and Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

We've already previewed the semifinals in Division 1 and in Division 2, so now it's time to dig into both the Eastern Mass title game, and Central/West state semifinal in Division 3. It's too late in the year for lengthy introductions, so let's get right to it.

Division 3 Eastern Mass Final

Watertown (21-2) vs. Hanover (21-3)

Players to Watch:
Watertown – Julio Fulcar, Sr., SG, John Korte, Jr., SG.
Hanover – J.P. Landry, Jr., SG, Daniel Hamza, Sr., F.

Date/Time/Location: March 13th, 4 pm, TD Garden

The Division 3 Eastern Mass Final pits two programs against one another that are highly regarded for one thing – defense. Over the course of the Division 3 North tournament, Watertown surrendered more than 50 points only once, and that was in their 59-52 victory over Bedford in the sectional final.

Hanover, for its part, saw Greater New Bedford score 58 points on them in the first round of the Division 3 South sectionals, only to hold Bourne, Old Rochester, and top seeded Norwell to an average of 46 points per game over their next three contests.
J.P. Landry spearheads the Indians’ offense, as the senior scored 18 points in Hanover’s win over Norwell in the sectional final. On the inside, meanwhile, Daniel Hamza provides a scoring presence for Hanover, while he also the capability to knock down the occasional three-pointer. Watertown has an offense that relies heavily on the trey, with most of those coming courtesy of Julio Fulcar and John Korte.

Korte had a monster season for the Raiders, averaging well over 20 points per game. Most impressive about Korte’s game is his diverse offensive skill set. The athletic junior can throw it down with two hands on the break, or unload a bevy of treys in a short time span.
This game has the makings of a defensive battle, but there is no reason to be surprised if a heavyweight back and forth fight transpires between Hanover’s leader in Landry and Watertown’s offensive ringleader in Korte.

Coach’s Thoughts:
“I expect this game to be pretty evenly matched,” said one Division 3 coach who saw both teams. “Watertown may have a bit of an advantage because they have one or two extra weapons at the offensive end, but I see a game unfolding where its pretty even throughout and then once the beginning of the fourth quarter comes along, one team has just a quick six to eight point spurt that gives them just enough breathing room.”

Feld’s Pick:
Watertown, 58-55

Division 3 Central/West State Semifinal

Bartlett (20-3) vs Palmer (22-1)

Players to Watch:
Bartlett - Tyler Davern, Sr., PF, Anthony Grzembski, Sr., PG, Cody Adams, So., G.
Palmer - Ryan McCarthy, Sr., PG, Matt Niemczura, Jr., SG, Dylan Tenczar, So., PF.

Date/Time/Location: March 13th, 4 pm, DCU Center

Both of these programs have, seemingly, been building toward this season, and man have both teams delivered. Palmer, the surprise story of Western Mass, captured its first sectional championship in 50 years with a rock-fight win over Mt. Greylock, while Bartlett's senior-laden run n' gun group won in a variety of ways throughout the D3 Central tournament.

Along the way, we've seen two teams that are resourceful, prideful, and have risen to the occasion again and again. When Bartlett was taken to the wire by surprising Tyngsboro, the Indians' trademark up-tempo offense took a backseat, and Bartlett locked things down defensively. Star power forward Tyler Davern also delivered a game-winning shot, and the following game Bartlett was back to its high-scoring ways, blowing out Greater Lowell, 96-66, behind 30 points from sophomore Cody Adams.

Basically, Bartlett has a number of guys who can go off on any given night, evidenced back the fact that senior point guard Anthony Grzembski exploded for 38 against Leicester in the D3 quarterfinals, then played more a facilitator role the following two games.

Palmer, meanwhile, has played great defense all year, but with a pair of 1,000-point scorers in senior Ryan McCarthy and junior Matt Niemczura, the Panthers can score with the best of them. In addition to being one of the greatest scorers in program history, thanks in large part to his quick first step, McCarthy also serves as his team's stabilizing force at point guard. The Panthers have also gotten solid contributions from Dylan Tenczar, an opportunistic power forward who works the offensive glass and low post.

So, both these teams have shown they can score, and each has recently won a slug-fest with its underrated defense as well… These picks aren't getting any easier, but I'll go with my gut and pick Bartlett, a team that can score 100 when its shots are falling.

Joe's Pick: Bartlett, 83-77

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