Central Catholic Raiders Boys Basketball '17-'18

Wed, Feb 28, 2018 07:00 PM @ Central Catholic
Team 1 2 3 4 Final
Methuen 13 18 17 7 55
Central Catholic 19 15 13 7 54

STUNNER! Methuen KOs Central

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LAWRENCE — Nick Clark looked around at the blue sea of Methuen alums, both old and young, still mingling around the Central Catholic court.

It had been a good 20 minutes since the 11th-seeded Rangers had earned a completely stunning 55-54 victory in the first round of the Division 1 North sectional — avenging their not one, not two, but three previous losses this season to the Raiders.

It’s funny how just 20 minutes earlier, time was all that mattered.

When Dante Rivera hit the eventual game-winning jump shot to give Methuen a one-point lead, all that mattered was how much time was left for Central to respond — it was 18 seconds. Then, after a near turnover, all that mattered for Central in the final seven seconds of the game was finding enough time to score — it didn’t.

But when Clark watched the horde of Methuen alums still embracing on the court, minutes after he was swarmed by those same fans in a jubilant mob after Central’s final shot hit off the front iron, time stood still for a few more minutes.

“This means everything,” said Clark, a junior who finished with 17 points and nine rebounds. “We haven’t beat (Central) in so long. They’re such a tough team. But I know it just it’s worth so much to this city.

“It means everything. We haven’t beat them in ... I don’t even know the last time we beat them. It’s been forever.”

It hasn’t quite been as long as forever, but you would have to go back to Dec. 12, 2014 to find the last time Methuen beat Central — and that was at home. The Rangers were riding a nine-game losing streak to CCHS and (28 of their last 29!) heading into Wednesday night’s game.

“This is huge for the program,” said Methuen (13-8) coach Anthony Faradie. “You see all of our alumni right here, all of these guys, it’s for them and it’s for the city of Methuen.

“That’s what it’s all about. It’s bigger than the program. It’s city-wide.”

With how things started Wednesday, it looked as if Central (15-5) would have no issues beating Methuen for the fourth time this season. The Raiders nailed eight 3s in the first half and led by as many as 13 before the Rangers cut it to a 34-31 game at the half.

Even when Methuen did earn it’s first lead of the game, 38-36, in the third quarter, Central came back. And with two minutes left, the Raiders were up 54-50.

But leave it to the 5-foot-7 Rivera, a David among giants on the court, to stand the tallest in the closing seconds.

Rivera, who finished with a game-high 24 points, drilled an NBA-length three with a minute left to make it 54-53, then drove past a Central defender before swishing a pull-up 15-footer with 18 seconds left to give his team the lead for good.

“The tried to double-team me,” said Rivera of his final bucket. “But the big man was too slow so I just went by him and hit it.

“It was like my body went up with the energy in the building. I was really hyped.”

A senior, Rivera was sick and tired of losing to Central, and he wasn’t going to end his high school career doing that.

“I didn’t want my career to end,” said Rivera.”It’s a huge win. We played them three times already, we were 0-3, but we just needed to beat them this time when it mattered.”

Said Faradie: “Dante. I want the ball in Dante’s hands. He was phenomenal all game.”

Besides Rivera and Clark, Evan Hardy chipped in seven points, and Uriel Cirineo and Onyera Chibuogwu both played well on defense.

Despite the loss, Dom Keegan (14 points), Bret Edwards (10 points) and Colin Bradanese (9 points, 8 rebounds) all played well for Central. Sophomore George Smith finished with 11 points on three 3s.

The road doesn’t get easier for Methuen. Up next is a trip to two-time defending Division 1 state champion Cambridge, the No. 3 seed, on Saturday for a 7 p.m. tip-off.

But, as the Rangers showed on Wednesday that they’re not afraid of giants.

“Celebrate tonight, on to the next one tomorrow,” said Rivera.


 Bradanese hits 1,000

Lost in the shuffle of the game was Central’s Colin Bradanese getting the 1,000th point of his career. The senior needed all nine of his points Wednesday to reach the milestone, and an announcement was made honoring the achievement at the next stoppage.

Game Statistics:

Division 1 North First Round

Methuen (55): Nick Clark 7 3-4 17, Dante Rivera 10 1-2 24, Onyera Chibuogwu 1 0-0 2, Uriel Cirineo 2-0-0 5, Evan Hardy 3 0-0 7, Angel Mejia 0 0-0 0, Jhamyl Fricas 0 0-0 0, TJ Scott 0 0-0 0. Totals 23 4-6 55

Central (54): George Smith 4 0-0 11, Colin Bradanese 4 0-0 9, Bret Edwards 4 0-0 10, Dom Keegan 4 2-2 14, Kevin Constant 2 1-2 5, Jose Lara 0 0-2 0, Manny Sanchez 1 2-4 5. Totals 19 5-10 54

3-pointers: M — Rivera 2, Cirineo, Hardy; CC — Keegan 4, Smith 3, Edwards 2, Bradanese, Sanchez

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