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March 5, 2010

Central must slow down Prep's Connaughton

Now Rick Nault knows how all those other coaches feel.

Every night his Raiders walk into a gym, that perplexed look on the opposing coach tells the story.

Wrinkles, gray hair, acid reflux, all have been symptoms of having to deal with Central's Carson Desrosiers.

As top-seeded Central hits the TD Garden's parquet floor today (7:45 p.m.) in the Division 1 North title game, it is the fourth-year coach posing the question:

"What are we going to do about St. John's Prep's Pat Connaughton?"

Nault has spent the better part of the last three days thinking of the Catholic Conference MVP and the 26-point hurting he unleashed on the Raiders just two weeks ago.

"We always approach games like we're going to create matchup problems," said Nault. "But our focus is totally changed. This kid did to us what really no kid has done to us in the last 2-3 years."

Nault might have been overstating that just a bit. Ryan Woumn of Lynn English's performance in the 2009 North title game ousted the Raiders. And then there was American Heritage of Florida's All-American Kenny Boynton in January of 2009.

But the Raiders had shut down about everyone on the schedule this year, before Connaughton hit Memorial Gym in the regular season finale. Before that, opponents' leading scorers were averaging just 14.1 points a night vs. Central.

While the junior's effort went for naught, with Central surviving, 65-61, the Raiders, who pride themselves on their vise-like defense, took notice.

"He put up the best numbers against us this year, we take that pretty personally," said Central sixth man Andrew Ouellette, who'll spend some time covering the two-sport standout from Arlington. "When a player goes off like that, let's just say we're excited to get another shot at him."

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