(VIDEO) Edwards Leads Central Catholic to Sectional Finals
By Nate Weitzer for Mass Prep Stars
NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – He was quiet throughout most of the night, but when the moment was biggest, Bret Edwards’ actions spoke loudest.
Central Catholic’s junior point guard came up with six huge points in the fourth quarter to seal a 68-65 win for the Raiders over second-seeded Everett in the Division 1 North semifinals and set up a matchup against No. 1 Cambridge in the sectional finals this Friday.
“That kid has got a lot of moxy,” Central Catholic head coach Rick Nault said about his point guard.
“As the starting quarterback of the football team, he hasn’t forgotten about the pounding [Everett] gave to them a couple of months ago. So he had a real edge to him tonight and he made a lot of big plays including the biggest play of the game while going right at them. He’s a money player.”
Both teams pushed the pace during a back-and-forth first half in which there were four ties and seven lead changes.
Everett’s Jordan McAfee came out firing with a game-high 17 points in the first half, while Central junior Colin Bradenese led the charge with 12 points and three steals over the first two quarters.
A clutch three from Dom Keegan (15 points), who shot 5-for-5 from downtown, gave the Raiders (20-5) a narrow 35-34 lead heading into the break.
In the third quarter, Everett star guard Ghared Boyce (21 points, 4 assists) came alive for 11 points to pace the Crimson Tide to a four-point lead heading into the fourth.
Everett (19-4) led 55-50 early in the fourth quarter, but Central Catholic called a timeout to regroup before making an impressive push to regain the lead.
“We talked about looking [Everett] in the eyes and not having any sense of fear or hesitancy and I thought from beginning to end, we battled just about every possession,” said Nault. “When they took a five-point lead, we didn’t flinch and that’s impressive from a group that doesn’t have a lot of seniors.”
The young Raiders responded with a 9-0 run, capped by Keegan’s fifth three of the evening to make it 59-55 with four minutes remaining.
Boyce led his team back to force the fifth tie of the contest at 59-59, but that’s when Edwards stepped up, scoring the final six points for the third-seeded Raiders, including a tough floater to make it 68-65.
Nifty take from Bret Edwards. Everett 55, Central 54 5 min to play pic.twitter.com/W1FCUjCKhN— Nate Weitzer (@nweitzer7) March 9, 2017
Edwards with the take to the rim.
On the final possession, sophomore Kevin Constant (9 points) did a good defensive job on Boyce, forcing his three-point attempt to go awry at the buzzer.
“I’m not really a big shooter, but when they give me a lane I try to go and make a bucket,” Edwards said. “To be honest, I thought they were going to foul, but they didn’t so I just tried to go to the basket and it went in, so we were able to get the W.”
Stars Who Shined
Colin Bradanese ‘18 F – Size is always extremely important for a team trying to matchup with Everett’s twin towers of McAfee and Theo Zidor, and Bradenese did a great job with six rebounds, three steals and a block on that end of the floor.
Strong take from Colin Bradenese puts Central up 13-12 1 min left Q1 pic.twitter.com/bN3gal3YMV— Nate Weitzer (@nweitzer7) March 9, 2017
Bradanese with the strong take and finish.
He added 20 points to lead the Raiders offensively as well.
Bradanese for 3.
Bret Edwards ‘18 G – Central Catholic’s quarterback is no stranger to big situations and defensive pressure. In the final minutes of this game, Edwards dribbled through overplaying defenders and finished through contact to lead his team to victory.
Dom Keegan ‘17 G – One of the few seniors on Central’s roster played like it was potentially the last game of his career and he didn’t want this run to end.
Keegan knocked down four huge threes early in the game to give the Raiders a halftime lead and came up with a clutch triple from the corner when something finally opened up for him in the second half.
“We knew this was going to be the biggest challenge of the year, but so many kids stepped up and hit big shot after big shot,” Nault said.
Kevin Constant ‘19 G – They say that rebounding is more about heart than height and Constant proved that fact with three tough offensive rebounds, all of which lead to trips to the free throw line.
The sophomore tallied all nine of his points from the charity stripe and made a huge impact defensively with two steals and two blocks, including a steal to give the Central the lead an maintain the Raiders 66-62 lead.
“Kevin Constant was huge in the second half and made a lot of great plays for us, and defensively we just clamped down and for Constant to be able to clamp down on their best player [Boyce] on the final possession of the game, just shows what he can do,” effused Nault.
Sophomore Kevin Constant with a key STL to get ball back for Raiders. They lead 66-62 with 49.2 to play pic.twitter.com/ft3ruBFjiU— Nate Weitzer (@nweitzer7) March 9, 2017
Constant with a big steal for Central.
“We have a lot of guys that aren’t seniors who step up and our seniors stepped up as well,” Edwards added. “We’re going to keep going on this run and see what we can do.”
Jordan McAfee ‘17 F – The Crimson Tide’s senior gave everything he had in this game and came out firing on his way to 17 quick points. The UConn-bound quarterback finished his hoops career with a fantastic effort.
McAfee for 3.
Ghared Boyce ‘18 G – Boyce nearly led his team to victory with a huge second half and his pull-up three to make it 66-65 with 30 seconds remaining made for an interesting finish.
Boyce brings it to within one point at 66-65.
The junior guard nearly drained a 35-footer to force overtime and he’ll certainly contiue to be a major problem for opposing defenses next year.
Theo Zidor ‘17 F – Another gridiron star who left it all on the court in his finally high school basketball game, Zidor locked down the interior with six blocks over the first three quarters.
He fouled out early in the the fourth quarter, but finished with a solid line of 10 points, 7 rebounds and 6 blocks.
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