EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

March 16, 2014

Central's Cambio closes like a champion

Central senior hoping Division 2 colleges were watching

Hector Longo
High School Basketball

---- — WORCESTER – I can’t believe that Nick Cambio’s phone isn’t ringing off the hook.

What more do the Division 2 college coaches from all over this planet have to see from the Central big man in order to believe in him? What more can he do?

Last night, on the biggest of high school stages, with 6,000 folks packing the DCU Center, Cambio delivered another masterpiece for Central Catholic, which despite a valiant bid will have to settle for Division 1 state runner-up after a 74-70 loss to defending champ Putnam.

After a stellar three-year career, with two all-conference selections, certainly two Eagle-Tribune All-Star selections and most likely an All-Scholastic selection, Cambio remains basically unrecruited by the Division 2 colleges in the region.

We’ve heard this tune before. Kid grows up next door to college. Kid gets overlooked by local college.

“How he doesn’t have a scholarship by now, it’s just a sin,” said Raider coach Rick Nault after Cambio’s merciless assault from the baseline last night. “I’m going to hurt some feelings here, but I know the talent pretty well in the Northeast-10, and you can’t tell me he doesn’t fit in with them. It’s just a sin.”

The last time Nault spoke like this about a big man was Jimmy Zenevitch. He was last seen at Assumption, putting up nights like his 34-point, 10-rebound pounding of Merrimack last month.

Anyone here last night has to be wondering what Cambio has to do.

He is 6-foot-6 as advertised. He’s athletic, check the dunks on the highlight reel.

He’s long, has brought his game out to the arc with a soft, sweet jumper.

And most of all, if this tourney run proves anything, Cambio is an absolute gamer. In the tourney, he’s dominated everyone, not just as a scorer but as a rebounder, too.

“He’s 6-foot-6 with great skills,” said Nault. “He scores in the post, he scores on the perimeter. And he’s just been amazing, refusing to allow this team to lose in this run.”

If anything, in the last couple games, Central didn’t get the ball to him enough. A steamy 11 of 12 from the field at the Garden Monday night, Cambio was nearly as efficient this time around, too, hitting 10 of 15 against Putnam. That’s 21 of 27 against the top competition in the two biggest games of his life.

What the kid and the coach have left out of this equation is the sacrifices behind the scenes that Cambio has made, playing the unofficial No. 2 to Tyler Nelson.

Most kids of Cambio’s ilk are the top dog and don’t share.

Cambio assessed the situation and like a U.S. Marine, he adjusted, adapted and improvised.

“Ty’s my boy, he’s my best friend, so I’m happy about everything he’s gotten,” said Cambio. “I did all I could to get some of that attention, too.”

Like a great trial lawyer, Cambio unleashed an amazing closing statement between the Garden and here in Worcester. He closed brilliantly.

He falls just short of 1,000 career points in three years by knocking down 27 points with 14 rebounds yesterday. That followed a Garden party with 27 points, six boards and five assists.

“I’m not sure there’s anything else I can do,” said Cambio. “I played my hardest in the playoffs. Gave it all I had and tried to do my thing.”

His “thing” belongs in the Northeast-10. Let’s just hope somebody was watching.