---- — WEST ANDOVER — Right now, his basketball team is the 5 p.m. early-bird special.
Make no mistake. Zach Lebowitz views his team as prime filet at some posh Back Bay bistro. Give his Notre Dame High School squad a little time, the Hurricanes will take care of the rest.
“That’s the best team we’ll see all year,” said Lebowitz after a 62-49 loss to Greater Lawrence at the Tarbox Gym. “Our goal is to be in their league.”
He means those words literally and figuratively.
Now in his second year at Notre Dame, Lebowitz would love to find a way to get the Canes into the small division of the Commonwealth Conference.
“The big dream is to ultimately get us into the Greater Lawrence Christmas Tournament,” said Lebowitz, whose club fell to 3-4. “Yeah, we’re thinking big. I love to think big. I love this job, and I love these kids.”
The Reggies proved to the visitors that they remain at least a peg or two below on the food chain. Oscar Reynoso did the major damage, tossing in 12 of his game-high 18 in the first half, helping Greater Lawrence build a 35-15 halftime advantage.
Cristian Rivera added 10 points, while junior Javier Franjul attacked the backboards all night long, finishing with 9 points and 13 rebounds.
“We have a long way to go,” said Reggies coach Dan Habib, whose club improved to 5-6.
“We have to be more disciplined. I think in the fourth quarter (outscored 23-15), you saw our lack of defensive intensity that has hurt us.”
Both coaches agreed, the Canes and Reggies are building a rivalry.
Plenty of fans stuck around after school to take this one in, making for a spirited affair.
“In my eyes, this is the Division 4 version of Central-Andover,” said Lebowitz, who was a hockey goalie at Andover High. “It was a great game, great atmosphere to play in. Win or lose, it’s always fun to play them.”
Notre Dame graduated its two best players from last year’s 7-7 club. Somehow, it looks like the Hurricanes have taken a step up, much in part to freshman L.J. Figueroa.
He struggled early but in the second half, the 14-year-old showed off his special skill — shooting the basketball.
His first three came from 25 feet out and he would drain two more, the second by the hash mark nearly 30 feet away.
Figueroa, who finished with 15 points, has already thrown up nights of 46 and 50 points this year.
“He’s a special kid,” said Lebowitz, who got 14 points from junior Miguel Monclove and eight points from sophomore Germaine Lebron.
Both teams have their eyes on a state tourney berth.
“That was a huge win for us over North Shore,” said Lebowitz of Friday’s win. “With our schedule the way it is, I think we have a pretty good shot to get there.”
And that folks, is no hoop dream.
Greater Lawrence 62,
Notre Dame 49
agateText:Notre Dame (49): Miguel Monclove 5 4-6 14, Germaine Lebron 3 1-2 8, Angel Martinez 0 1-2 1, Gio Rojas 2 3-4 7, L.J. Figueroa 6 0-3 15, Justin Benitez 2 0-0 4, Crocky Ventura 0 0-1 0, Totals 18 9-18 49
Greater Lawrence (62): Bryan Centeno 1 2-4 4, Anthony Fabian 0 2-2 2, Ellicen Pena 1 0-0 2, Anthony Almanzar 1 0-0 2, Frankely Estrella 2 3-4 7, Oscar Reynoso 7 2-5 18, Maikel Guerrero 4 0-0 8, Cristian Rivera 4 2-4 10, Javier Franjul 4 1-2 9, Totals 24 12-21 62
3-pointers: ND — Lebron, Figueroa 3; GLT — Reynoso 2
Notre Dame (3-4): 11 4 11 23 — 49
Greater Lawrence (5-6):21 14 12 15 — 62