EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


March 5, 2010

Central must slow down Prep's Connaughton


So what can Central Catholic do against the 6-foot-4 Connaughton, who is averaging about 24 points and 15 rebounds a game?

"He's a monster, big, quick with the ball, a really good ball-handler," said Ouellette, an Eagle-Tribune All-Star defensive back in the fall.

Most likely, Central will attempt more of the same and hope for significantly better results.

The Raiders put athletes on Connaughton, starting with Jaycob Morales, then going to Ouellette and then the sophomore, "Lock-down" Luis Puello.

"We threw all our athletes at him, face-guarded him and tried to wear him down," said Ouellette. "He got us pretty good, especially in the first half, but we buckled down pretty good in the second."

Puello was thrust into the mix in the second half, and that could be key should Nault decide to use him there earlier.

Regardless, Central enters the fray tonight with a strategy on defense that it seldom, if ever, employs.

"It's not like the usual, 'How do we shut him down?' It's about we slow him down and try to find a way to keep him under 20," said Nault. "We tried. We worked hard at it, and we didn't have a ton of success."

The reason, of course, is Connaughton's athleticism. Most on the Prep campus, including football coach Jim O'Leary feel like he would have been a top quarterback if he stuck with it. As it is, in baseball, the lethal pitcher with a 90 mph fastball has already been offered a scholarship from Florida State.

"He's a matchup problem," said Nault. "You just can't put a guard on him and you just can't put a big on him, so we're game-planning. We have to change a little bit."

Stop Pat Connaughton and you stop the Prep, which is making its first Garden appearance since 1974. That's the challenge that Central undertakes tonight.

Easier said than done, a fact that Rick Nault understands all too well.

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