Monday, December 11, 2017

MIAA Basketball Top 25: Preseason Poll

Newton North's Ethan Wright (left) and Needham's Thomas Shaughnessy will again look to lead their teams deep into MassMadness.

 Our (sorta) preseason rankings of the best teams in the state, as selected by our panel of staff writers and correspondents. (Updated 12/11)
1. St. John's Prep (Last Season: 16-6) With a 6-foot-8 center in Tommy O’Neil and an elite wing in 6-foot-3 Nate Hobbs, the Eagles have the weaponry necessary to make a run at a Catholic Conference title and potentially a state championship.  
2. Newton North (Record Last Season: 17-7) Prized prospect Ethan Wright decided to stay at Newton North and he’ll have a lot more help this year, with young talents Noah Neville and Aaron Cooley ready to step up in supporting roles.   
3. Needham (Last Season: 20-5) Thomas Shaughnessy returns after putting on a show in the state tournament last winter, leading the Rockets to their first sectional title and competing valiantly against eventual champion Cambridge in the state semifinals.

4. BC High (Last Season: 20-3) While he lost running mate Carl Pierre to graduation, Eagles point guard Travis Evee still has several athletic big men to work with, including forward Spencer Riley. 

5. Franklin (Last Season: 22-3) Elite prospects Chris Edgehill and Jalen Samuels return for a Panthers team that advanced all the way to the state final last winter, and the experience garnered in those big games should prove invaluable for those newly-minted leaders.
6. Central Catholic (Last Season: 20-6) Poised guard Bret Edwards returns for a Raiders team that made the D1 North sectional final last year. Forward Colin Bradanese is another star name to watch on this deep roster.
7. Everett (Last Season: 19-3) Senior guard Ghared Boyce leads an Everett team that will be highly motivated after falling just short in the D1 North semifinals against Central Catholic last season.
8. Catholic Memorial (Last Season: 16-6) The Knights needed a bridge year after multiple seasons of sustained dominance, and now seem poised to compete with the state’s elite once again.
9. Lowell (Last Season: 17-6) Senior guard Alex Rivera is hands down one of the best offensive players in the state, capable of carrying the Red Raiders deep into the state tournament just as he did last year.  
10. Cambridge (Last Season: 24-0) With arguably the best tandem in the state over the last decade graduated in Jakigh Dottin and Dimon Carrigan, the next generation of Falcons will look to cement their legacy and maintain the programs’ extensive winning streak.
11. St. John's (Shrewsbury) (Last Season: 19-4) The Pioneers return a talented senior forward in Sean Burke and will assuredly reload in the backcourt under veteran head coach Bob Foley. The loss of star guard Tyler Mola to a broken ankle could limit the Pioneers' ceiling, but freshman guard Lucas SanFratello went off for 26 points in his varsity debut against Nashoba.
12. Lynn Classical (Last Season: 23-4) The Rams return a talented corps led by Jaylen Johnson and Edwin Solis, two players that nearly led Classical past eventual D2 state champion Brighton in the sectional final last winter.
13. O’Bryant (Last Season: 18-7) Junior forward Rivaldo Soares is one of the most talented players in the state and he’ll look to lead a Tigers team that graduated a number of key pieces.
14. Brookline (Last Season: 13-8) With a youth-laden, but talented roster, the Warriors showed flashes of brilliance last year. Perhaps they’ll put it all together this season under a new head coach with 6-foot-5 freakishly athletic junior Chris Camille leading the charge.
15. Tech Boston (Last Season: 16-6) The Bears drew a tough foe and lost to O’Bryant in the second round of the state tournament last season, but now welcome elite guard Maurice Works, who transfers in from Lawrence Academy.
16. St. Mary’s (Lynn) (Last Season: 19-6) Jalen Echevarria and the Spartans quickly transitioned from the gridiron to the hardwood and took down Brighton, 55-48, in their season opener on Friday, Dec. 8. 
17. Mansfield (Last Season: 23-3) Leading scorer Tyler Boulter will miss the first few weeks with a wrist injury and the Hornets lost their most important big man in Sam Goldberg to graduation, but Mike Vaughan is one of the best coaches in the state and he will adjust.  
18. Brighton (Last Season: 23-2) The defending D2 state champions bring back a lot of talent, but received an early awakening with a loss at St. Mary’s last Friday.
19. Springfield Central (Last Season: 19-3) Perhaps the new power in Western Mass, the Golden Eagles rolled through rival Springfield Putnam last season en route to a sectional title.
20. Somerville (Last Season: 13-7) After coming on strong towards the end of last season, Somerville could make some noise this year with seniors Elijah Jeffreys and Jiovanny Pierre leading the way.
21. Bridgewater-Raynham (Last Season: 16-6) Losing leading scorer E.J. Dambreville is no small hit, but the Trojans will likely be in the mix for a D1 South title by seasons’ end.  
22. Maynard (Last Season: 22-4) Superstar guard Corey Olivier returns after leading the Tigers to the first state championship in school history and he’s head and shoulders above most of the competition at the Division 4 level.  
23. Watertown (Last Season: 21-3) With 6-foot-5 center John Korte returning, the Raiders have a chance to go one step further after falling in the D3 state semifinals to Hanover last season.
24. Brockton (Last Season: 11-11) Flush with talent as per usual, the Boxers will look to measure themselves early with a road tilt at BC High on Dec. 19.
25. Cathedral (Last Season: 18-5) Khalil Blair returns to lead the Panthers offensively and their defensive pressure under head coach Larry Merritt gives most Division 4 teams fits.  

Last 10 Out:  Andover (13-9), Bedford (17-7), Burke (12-8), Hanover (23-3), Falmouth (17-3), Longmeadow (18-5), Lynn English (10-10), Nashoba (21-4), Quincy (14-8), Whitman-Hanson (19-4)

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