(VIDEO) Olivier Leads Maynard Back to D4 State Championship
By Nate Weitzer for Mass Prep Stars
WORCESTER, Mass. – In a battle between primary guard prospects, it was Corey Olivier’s Maynard Tigers who proved victorious over Sam’i Roe and his Hopkins Academy squad. The win marked the second second consecutive year that the Central Mass. champion Maynard Tigers would defeat their Western Mass. foes, as they came away with a 67-56 victory in the Division 4 Western Mass. final at Worcester’s DCU Center.
Last year, Olivier and the Tigers edged Hopkins Academy, 65-64, in a thrilling state semifinal and Maynard (21-4) will now head back to Springfield, where they will face St. Mary's in a rematch of last year's D4 State Championship game at 5:45 p.m on Saturday at Blake Arena.
“We played a terrific team with so much balance. You can’t focus on any one player because someone else will beat you,” Maynard coach Paul Howes said about Hopkins Academy.
Maynard opened the game on a 10-2 run behind the hot shooting of Olivier (21 points). Hopkins Academy bounced right back, however, with a slew of shooters connecting from long range, as part of an 18-4 run to give them a 20-14 lead.
The teams traded blows throughout a competitive second quarter, as Maynard regained slim 35-32 advantage at the break.
“I told the guys at halftime that it’s just two good teams who have a bunch of players who can score,” said Howes. “You’re not going to stop [The Hawks] entirely and I thought both teams were playing great.”
Indeed, nothing could separate the Central and Western champions throughout the second half, as a John Earle 3-pointer )video below) gave Hopkins a 46-45 lead late in the third.
The Hawks star senior Roe (16 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists) did a good job in attempting to contain Olivier with full court pressure, but the Tigers found ways to get their own star open.
On the other side of the ball, it was senior forward Eric Kiley who took on the task of defending Roe, as he kept the Hopkins star quiet for the majority of the second half.
“We’ve played a lot of great teams and this is the first time [Kiley] has covered a point guard,” said Howes. “[Roe] was a tough assignment, but Eric had nice help behind him and he did a great job.”
In the end, Olivier hit a key floater (video below) , senior Tim Lawton nailed a huge 3-pointer and Kiley came up with seemingly every big rebound, as the Tigers were able to close on a 17-6 run to seal the game.
Stars Who Shined
Corey Olivier ‘18 G – Olivier started the game red hot, connecting on 3 of his first 3 attempts from downtown. The junior finished strong, as well, with six fourth quarter points, as part of his game-high 21 points to put the feisty Hawks away.
Olivier with a big second quarter basket.
The junior guard carried his team despite the defensive pressure applied by Roe and Hopkins. Olivier credited his big men for setting good screens and rolling to get open.
“We just ran pick and roll and it was open,” said Olivier. “They were trying to force me left but other guys stepped up and when the defense helped they were able to hit big shots.”
Olivier nails his 5th 3 and Maynard leads 48-46 late Q3 pic.twitter.com/aW7Q7re4Vl— Nate Weitzer (@nweitzer7) March 15, 2017
Olivier for 3!
Tommy Smith ‘19 F – The next in line as a young star for Maynard, Smith came up with several clutch shots, including a fourth-quarter floater to give Maynard some much-needed breathing room.
The sophomore came up with a team-high 10 rebounds to go with his 11 points, posting a double-double, while playing an integral role on both ends of the floor.
Tough shot from Tom Smith puts Maynard up 60-52 with 2:20 remaining pic.twitter.com/4Ldj8MZ6uq— Nate Weitzer (@nweitzer7) March 15, 2017
Tom Smith with a big basket for Maynard.
Eric Kiley ‘17 F – After the game, Caruso called Kiley the teams’ best overall player, which elicited some laughs from both Kiley and Corey Olivier.
Kiley was a huge part of what the Tigers did on both sides of the court. Kiley was tasked with covering Roe throughout most of the game and he corralled several key defensive rebounds down the stretch.
“After the first half I realized I wasn’t doing my job rebounding so I wanted to step up in the second half,” said Kiley.
Offensively the 6-foot-2 forward dropped 12 points while knocking down clutch free throws late.
“It’ll definitely help,” Kiley said about the team’s experience in the state finals last season. “We’ve been there and we’ve been through it all. We’re going to stay focused, keep practicing hard and keep this run going.”
Kiley hits a big 3-pointer.
Tim Lawton ‘19 F – Yet another talented sophomore, Lawton was left open during the first half and promptly drained a three, causing serious frustration for Hopkins coach Angelo Thomas, who clearly scouted the shooting guard.
In the second half, Lawton rebounded and moved the ball efficiently, but when his moment arose, he did not hesitate, as he knocked down a huge 3-pointer as part of the Tigers 10-3 run to take control of the game late.
“I thought we did a nice job finding Timmy Lawton in the post and getting guys to the foul line," Howes added. "It always comes down to shots. We made some shots and they didn’t. It doesn’t mean we’re better than them, that’s just basketball.”
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