By Hector Longo
---- — NORTH ANDOVER — About the last thing Alec Buresh expected to be doing at crunch time of the North Andover Fall League championship game would be driving to the hoop, challenging the St. John’s Prep big men and banking home the clinching bucket with a double-pump layin.
But there the Central Catholic sophomore was last night, announcing his name to the basketball region and helping the Raiders to a 53-47 title win.
Of course, there is a negative to Buresh and his heroics. The 5-9 guard played heavy minutes last night due to an injury to Fairfield-bound guard Tyler Nelson, who went down in a heap for an early loose ball and injured his left wrist/hand.
From the emergency room last night, Nelson said that it was broken.
“I think we all knew it was time to step up when Tyler went down,” said Buresh, of Salem, N.H. “He’s been there for all of us, picking us up, building confidence together.
“Funny thing is I’ve struggled this fall, with my shot and my confidence. I got the chance (last night) and I had to be ready.”
With his whole bench screaming to pull it out, Buresh’s banker gave Central its first two-score lead of seemingly the whole night at 50-46 with under a minute to play. It was a hole from which the Prep wouldn’t recover.
The seven-point night, same as Nelson had before he left early in the first half, has to be a big confidence booster for Buresh, as tryouts commence on Monday after Thanksgiving.
“My whole goal this fall has been to fit in with the team and be confident,” said Buresh. “Coach has been pretty positive with me about my chances to make varsity. I’m not taking anything for granted, and I’ll do whatever it is I have to do to be there.”
The Prep had no answers for Nick Cambio, who paced the Raiders with 21 points in the final. Alex Santos and Aaron Hall each had eight.
North Andover’s Max Burt paced the Prep with 21. Plaistow’s Ben Judson scored only two points before leaving with an ankle injury.
Semifinal wrapup: It was St. John’s Prep over Lawrence in one semifinal, 54-41. Max Butterbrodt of North Andover led the winners with 18. Anderson Morales had 19 for Lawrence, and Kevin Fabian chipped in 11.
Central KO’d Londonderry in the other semi, 59-46. Cambio dumped in 25 for the Raiders and Nelson 17. Drew Caveney led Londonderry with 10.
All-Fall League team: Nelson was not around to accept his Fall League Most Valuable Player trophy. He was joined on the all-fall league team by his teammate Cambio, SJP’s Max Burt and Karim Davis, Methuen’s Tim Galloway-Burke and Londonderry’s Caveney.