Monday, December 11, 2017

A Brief 2017-18 MIAA Hoops Primer

Franklin returns a ton of talent and, now, experience, making the Panthers a favorite to get back to the state championship game.
By Matt Feld (@mattyfeld612)

Ed. Note- Our statewide Top 25 is currently posted, as the first full week of MIAA hoops is now in the books. With that in mind, our Matt Feld figured he would give a brief overview of how he sees things shaking out across all divisions of MIAA basketball.

Ed. Note Part 2- A previous version of this story listed Tech Boston as D4 instead of D2. We regret the error and have corrected it.

Needham surprised many last season with their run to the Division 1 South Sectional championship.

This season, the Rockets will not fly under anyone’s radar.

Superstar Thomas Shaughnessy leads a strong returning group that includes the likes of forward Will Cooper, and guards Brandon Monheimer and Michael Klemm.

“Every team is going to give us their best,” said Needham coach Paul Liner. “I feel for the first time, with our experience last year, we want to go 1-0 every night, but there is an end where the kids want to get to. There’s an end goal.”

Shaughnessy noted the changing role the Rockets now have to assume as a favorite.

“Last season we were kind of the underdog,” said Shaughnessy. “Last year we were hunting and this year we’re the hunted. We have to try and just go 1-0 each night, prepare, and get as many wins as possible.”

The Rockets will look to go 1-0 in one of the top early season games when they take a trip up to St. John’s Prep. The Eagles are hoping to knock off two-time defending state champion Cambridge in Division 1, and seem to have the talent to do so.

The Prep has a rare blend of athleticism in its backcourt and size in its frontcourt. Nate Hobbs mans the guard duties, while Tommy O’Neil and Matt Relihan are sure to give St. John’s an advantage in the paint on a nightly basis.

Relihan was one of the top defenders in the Catholic Conference last season, and head coach John Dullea has been pleased about what he has seen so far this winter out of the senior forward.

“Matt (Relihan) is a huge piece for us,” said Dullea. “He played terrific defense last season holding (Catholic Memorial’s) Ulyen Coleman to one point. You know, he’s one of our captains and is at the center of our success.”

Up north, Lowell’s Alex Rivera, Central Catholic’s Colin Bradanese, and Everett’s Ghared Boyce will give their teams a chance, no matter the opponent. Lawrence is a sleeper.

Down in Division 1 South, Newton North has already suffered the injury bug, but premiere scorer and Princeton commit Ethan Wright makes the Tigers an immediate threat to Needham. Sophomore Aaron Cooley is one to watch.

Travis Evee and Kani Glover are sure to keep BC High and Catholic Memorial in the mix as contenders throughout the season. Brookline and Brockton are teams to watch as the season goes on.

Franklin seems like a sure fire bet to get back to the state final behind one of the best backcourts in Chris Edgehill and Jalen Samuels to go with centerpiece Paul Mahon.

Arlington and O’Bryant appear to be on a collision course to meet up in Division 2 state semifinals, behind respective young all-state caliber talents.

Bensley Joseph hopes to fill the scoring void left behind from Colin McNamara’s graduation, while Rivaldo Soares and DeSonte Bowen are sure to cause nightmares all season long in the Boston City League.

Reigning Division 3 champion Hanover has moved up to Division 2 and is expected to be O’Bryant’s top competition in the south. Two-time defending south champion Whitman-Hanson can never be taken lightly.

Also in D2, Tech Boston is quick, athletic, and dangerous behind Maurice Works. Tech returns virtually everyone from a loaded 2017 squad.

Out in Central Mass, Nashoba lost its opener to St. John’s (Shrewsbury), but the Chieftains are a favorite to get back to the state finals.  Forward Justin Pierce coming back healthy from an injury sustained in the preseason will be key. Speaking of the Pioneers, look for St. John's to again be the team to beat in D1 Central, with senior forward Sean Burke back, and a group of talented young guards growing up in legendary coach Bob Foley's system.

In Division 4 Central, look for reigning state champion Maynard to again be in it until the end. Despite the loss of some front court talent, the Tigers still return one of the best guard in the state in Corey Olivier, and always play great defense.

Western Mass will likely be defined by the intense rivalry between Springfield Central, who came a split-second away from defeating Franklin at the DCU Center last year, and Springfield Putnam, a group just a few years removed from running MIAA hoops.

Senior big Jorge Torres returns for Central, while Putnam will be looking to rebuild after graduation, and the transfer of star Taelon Martin have re-shaped the roster.

Back east, Cardinal Spellman won a state championship in 2015 and, after a pair of years off the radar, look to be at the top of Division 3 once again heading into 2017-18.

Mike Spencer, AJ Jaramillo, Craig Faria, and Tyrone Smith-McCray can all score, giving Cardinal coach Mike Perry a variety of options.

Norwell and Old Rochester will challenge Spellman down in the south. In the north, John Korte is the face of Watertown squad that fell just short to Hanover at the Garden last year.

Korte is a matchup nightmare and makes the Raiders the favorites to make it to the Garden once again. Bedford reached the sectional finals last season and returners Jack Cowan, Toby Hart, Anton Lucas, and Casey Millar make the Buccaneers one of the top teams in the Dual County League once again.

Division 4 has a chance to be one of the more exciting ones to follow.

Cathedral returns scoring machine Kahlil Blair, while in the north St. Mary’s (Lynn) impressed with an early win in an endowment game against Brighton. Hamilton-Wenham can always be expected to be in the mix as well.

Feld's State Championship Picks:

Division 1- St. John’s Prep

Division 2- O’Bryant

Division 3- Cardinal Spellman

Division 4- Cathedral


Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

- Tech Boston is in D2.
- Both Hamilton-Wenham and St. Mary's are in D3 now

Franklin is in D1 Central not the South.

Bishop Stang should be mentioned as Spellman's biggest threat in D3 South.

Bedford is mentioned but Malachi Hazelton's name appears nowhere in the article.