Monday, March 12, 2018

MIAA Boys' Basketball State Tournament: Division 4 State Semi-Final Previews

Corey Olivier and his Maynard teammates are just one game away from getting back to Springfield to defend their state title.

By Matt Feld (@Mattyfeld612)

We continue our look at each of the MIAA boys' basketball state semifinal games with Division 4. For our D1 preview, click here.

Division 4

Pope John (22-1) vs. Mashpee (19-4)

Pope John's Path: Winthrop (63-59, OT), Fenway (78-71), Austin Prep (78-35)

Mashpee's Path: Abington (68-47), Old Colony (78-60), Blue Hills (82-59), Cohasset (73-54)

Pope John's Key Players: Angel Price-Espada, Jr., G; Marcus Thompson, Sr., F; Marquise Boyer, Sr., G;

Mashpee's Key Players: Anthony Gonsalves, Sr., F; Devaun Ford, Jr., SG; Michael Barrows, Sr., F;

Overview: When the Division 4 State-Semi Final commences at the TD Garden on Monday afternoon, it will showcase a pair of teams in search of their first state championship. Mashpee made school history on Saturday, as led Devaun Ford's 22 points, the Falcons claimed their first sectional title in school history. Ford also set the school scoring record in Mashpee's sectional final win over Cohasset, going coast-to-coast to reach his 1,023rd career point. 

Pope John, after squeaking past Winthrop in overtime and Fenway in the sectional semi-finals, displayed the same dominance they showed throughout the regular season in a 33-point sectional final win over Austin Prep. Angel Price-Espada has been the offensive catalyst for the Tigers. Always the focal point of the Tigers' surges, Price-Espada surpassed the 1,000 point-plateau back on March 4th before following it up with a 19-point performance in the South final.

These two teams are both more than willing to go up and down from the opening tip. Ford gives the Falcons a steady ball handler in the open floor and South Shore Leave MVP Anthony Gonsalves' provides a steady presence in the front court. Michael Fraser can connect from long-range at an impressive rate and Michael Barrows complements Gonsalves up front.

The Tigers have their fair share of weapons. Joining Price-Espada on the attack is senior captain Michael Thompson and Marquise Boyer. Price-Espada, however, the focal point as evidenced by his breakout season in which he averaged over 21 points a game.

In a matchup between two teams that loved to run in the open floor, Gonsalves and Barrows provide an advantage for the Falcons as they are able to get the ball inside and generate points in the paint to off-set the back and forth affair that is sure to ensure between Ford and Price-Espada.

Pick: Mashpee, 68-60

Maynard (21-3) vs. Pioneer Valley Regional (18-5)

Maynard's Path: Blackstone Valley Regional (71-54), Innovation Academy (85-62), Assabet Valley (78-69), Worcester Tech (61-50)

Pioneer Valley Regional's Path: Franklin County Tech (59-43), Drury (68-67), Hopkins (59-53)

Maynard's Key Players: Corey Oliver, Sr., G; Chris Bastien, Sr., SF;

Pioneer Valley's Key Players: Garrett Cote, Sr., G; Mike Menard, Sr., G; Jordan Loughman, Sr, G;

Overview: Throughout the first month of the season, Maynard looked like the top-dog in Division 4 Central, and after a midseason slide, the Tigers recovered to claim the sectional title in impressive fashion. The Tigers offense was clicking on cylinders through the first three games of the tournament averaging over 71 points per game. In the Sectional Final versus white-hot Worcester Tech, it was a late fourth quarter rally where the Tigers showed the pedigree of a two-time defending sectional champion. Defensively, Maynard has been terrific as evidenced by the fact they held Worcester Tech to just five fourth quarter points. 

Leading the Tigers' attack is senior Corey Oliver who showcased his ability to perform in the clutch by scoring a game-high 28 points in the sectional final win. Chris Bastien joins Oliver as a main option for the Tigers while sophomore Ian Fowler has provided valuable minutes with his range from beyond the arc.

Pioneer Valley has been an underdog for the majority of the season, but after its stunning sectional final win over Hopkins that title of "underdog" is no more. The Panthers knocked off the three-time defending sectional champion Golden Hawks, 59-53, in the third matchup this season between the two schools. In the first two matchups, Pioneer Valley had been largely dominated with Hopkins winning the two games by scorers of 60-46 and 71-44, respectively.

Garrett Cote has had the clutch gene all postseason long. Cote splashed the game winning trey at the buzzer in Pioneer Valley's Sectional Semi-Final win over Drury before following it up with a pair of three-pointers early in the fourth quarter of the Sectional Final. Senior Jordan Loughman has been a reliable option for the Panthers. Brendan Edmond provides scoring in the low post and Mike Menard is one of the top three-point shooters in the area.

Pick: Maynard, 60-53

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