By Christopher Smith
---- — Defending Division 1 state champion Central Catholic must bring its best game tonight in the Division 1 North final against an undefeated Lynn English squad that boasts three guards who average double-figures in scoring.
Fourth-seeded Central (21-1) plays top-seeded Lynn English (24-0) today at 6 p.m. at the Tsongas Center in Lowell. The winner advances to play in the Division 1 state semifinals on Monday at the TD Garden.
“They’re definitely athletic, they all rebound extremely well so one of the things we’re definitely going to work on is making sure our guards, forwards, everyone is boxing out because they crash the boards on offense,” Central coach Sue Downer said.
“A lot of their points are on offensive put-backs.”
Diondra Woumn, who led Lynn English with 20 points in a 57-39 Division 1 North semifinal victory over Woburn on Thursday, averages 14.6 points per game.
The Bulldogs also start 5-7 senior guard Catherine Stinson who averages a team-high 14.8 ppg and 5-9 senior guard Deidra Newson (14.0 ppg).
Lynn English, which has averaged 60.9 points a game, doesn’t have much height but it makes up for it with quick guards who press full-court and crash to the basket to collect rebounds.
The Bulldogs, who are ranked third in Eastern Mass. — one spot ahead of Central — have earned some strong wins this season, beating St. Mary’s, Masconomet, Newton North, Woburn and Arlington Catholic.
All five of those schools were ranked in latest Globe Top 20 poll.
The Bulldogs handed Masconomet its only regular season loss, 59-49. Masco led Central by 12 points in third quarter of their Division 1 North semifinal Wednesday before the Raiders stormed back to win by six points.
Lynn English’s guard do everything, even rebound.
Newson averages 12.2 rebounds and 4.8 steals per game in addition to her 14.0 ppg.
Woumn averages 7.0 rebounds and 4.6 steals in addition to her 14.6 ppg while Stinson averages 4.0 rebounds, 7.8 assists and 3.8 steals in addition to her 14.8 ppg.
Makayla Everette, a 5-10 senior forward, provides some experience in the paint, averaging 10.8 rebounds and 6.0 points per game.
Meanwhile, 5-7 freshman guard Devinya Robinson (5.4 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 2.8 spg) has been known for her pesky defense and led the Bulldogs’ overwhelming press against Woburn on Thursday.
“They play a lot of pressure (defense),” Downer said.
“They do a 1-3-1, kind of have a three-quarter trap, do a lot of full court stuff. So I think it’s so important for us to value the basketball and maybe use what they’re trying to do to us to our advantage and see if we can get some quick baskets.”
Central generates its offense from its tough defensive style.
Both teams, in that respect, are similar.
The Raiders own the height advantage with 6-foot senior Amanda Williams, who has dominated both as a scorer and rebounder in the paint all year.
“We’re both up-tempo type of teams who a lot of our game is on transition points,” Downer said.
“Controlling the boards is our No. 1 goal going in.”