LAWRENCE — Wear the uniform, and it comes with the territory.
"When you play for Central Catholic, you have a target on your back," said Raider girls coach Sue Downer. "Our kids are used to that, we have that all the time."
With the Division 1 North basketball tourneys set, that statement has never been more true.
The 20-1 Central boys, who were North runners-up a year ago, and the 19-2 defending state champion girls are the teams that everybody wants to knock off.
Beating Central is a season-maker.
"There's always a bull's eye on us," said Central center Carson Desrosiers. "Just the name Central Catholic gets people emotional, and everybody wants to be the one."
But as the tourney opens this week, there is a sense of urgency unlike any that Downer and boys coach Rick Nault have encountered in their seasons on the bench.
One final shot
In the previous four years, Desrosiers and Katie Zenevitch have rolled up an amazing 164-30 mark, with each pulling in a state title - the boys back in 2008 and the girls last year. In addition, the girls went to the state final in 2008 and a North final back in 2007. A year ago Desrosiers and the Raiders were upset by Lynn English in the Division 1 North final, and they also reached the 2007 North final.
The next month ends one of the great eras in area sports history.
"Last chance with Katie," admits Downer. "I'd be crazy not to understand what that means. She's a big-time player, one of the best players ever to come out of the region. We have to seize that opportunity having her one more time."
Nault did some soul-searching this past week. Call it nostalgia. Maybe, the memories of all those blocks, dunks and wins got to him a little bit as Desrosiers hit the 1,000-point plateau.