EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

February 13, 2013

Central too much for Knights

Pride shows through, Raiders even score with Knights, take MVC lead

By Hector Longo
hlongo@eagletribune.com

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LAWRENCE — If we learned anything after 32 minutes of championship basketball here at Memorial Gym last night, it’s that the Central Catholic boys are not impervious to pain.

The agony of defeat at the hands of North Andover High two weeks ago still throbbed in the Raider veins.

“We knew we couldn’t let what happened then, happen to us again,” said Raider junior Nick Cambio of Central coughing up a nine-point fourth quarter lead to the Knights. “They out-toughed us, and that was not acceptable.”

Up 11 to open the fourth last night, Cambio and the Raiders finished the job with authority, closing out North Andover, 70-60, to pull one game ahead in the MVC Division 1 title race. Central, 12-1 in the MVC, now can claim full possession of the title if it can take care of Andover Friday night and Lowell on the vacation week. Both of those games are on the road. The 12-2 Knights must beat Methuen Friday and hope for a little help.

On a night where as many as five different potential conference MVPs hit the Raider hardwood, it was the 6-foot-5 Cambio, who shined brightest, tossing in a game-high 22 points with 14 rebounds.

Tyler Nelson chipped in 17 points, including a couple late coffin-closing 3-pointers. Joel Berroa tossed in 16 points with 11 boards, and point man Lucas Hammel finished a sensational night on the floor with 11 huge points.

Still, there had to be tremors on the Central bench to start the fourth quarter after a frenzied finish to the third.

In the waning seconds, Hammel knocked home a 3, only to have Derek Collins race up the floor for the Knights and bury a jumper of his own at the buzzer, seizing momentum.

Talk about deja vu. Collins heaved a 60-footer at the end of the third to ignite the Knights last time around.

“I thought about that shot, too,” said Knights’ coach Mike McVeigh. “There was no reason not to. But that’s when their defense kicked in and really won them the game. A couple turnovers, and they got to a couple loose balls, and that was it. This was a fight for No. 1, and they earned it. Right now, they are No. 1.”

In a night of runs, Central made what proved to be the decisive one in the final two minutes of the second quarter.

With Knight big man Chris Bardwell waiting at the scorer’s desk, pleading for a whistle to get back into the fray, North Andover saw a 24-24 game, turn into a nine-point halftime deficit.

Cambio had a pair of putback hoops and a sweet banker, and Hammel knocked down a top-of-the-key 3 in a wild flurry.

Said whistle never came. Bardwell couldn’t get back on the floor, and the damage had been inflicted.

Through three quarters, 10 fouls total had been called, and three of those were offensive charges.

“We like it that way, tough and physical,” said Cambio of the action which had athletes going to the hoop, getting physically challenged and landing hard on the floor with nary a whistle.

North Andover would get no closer than seven points the rest of the way.

The unstoppable Bardwell made his homecoming at Central, where he transferred from in the offseason, a darn good one.

The southpaw led the Knights with 19 points and a dozen boards, despite a vast array of chants from the Central student section ‑- the top one being, “J-V baseball!”

Isaiah Nelsen and Brendan Miller added a dozen points apiece in the loss.

Central Catholic 70, North Andover 60

North Andover (60): Garrett Upson 1 0-0 3, Bubba Shkliew 2 0-0 5, Derek Collins 2 0-0 5, Brett Daley 1 0-0 2, Isaiah Nelsen 6 0-0 12, Chris Bardwell 9 1-2 19, Brendan Miller 5 2-4 12, Casey Walsh 1 0-0 2. Totals 27 3-6 60

Central Catholic (70): Nick Cambio 10 2-2 22, Joel Berroa 8 0-0 16, Lucas Hammel 4 1-2 11, Tyler Nelson 7 0-0 17, Mike Barry 1 0-0 2, Jamahl Lopez 1 0-0 2, Ryan Barry 0 0-2 0. Totals 31 3-6 70

3-pointers: NA — Upson, Shkliew, Collins; CC — Nelson 3, Hammel 2

North Andover (14-3, 12-2):12 12 14 22 — 60

Central Catholic (15-3, 12-1):18 15 16 21 — 70

MVC BOYS HOOP RACES

Division 1

Central Catholic ...................................12-1

North Andover ......................................12-2

Lowell ...................................................10-3

Andover ................................................10-4

LAST NIGHT’S SCORES

Central 70, North Andover 60

Lowell 83, Methuen 65

Andover 61, Lawrence 49

REMAINING GAMES

Friday, Feb. 15

Lowell at Lawrence, 7 p.m.

Central Catholic at Andover, 7 p.m.

North Andover at Methuen, 7 p.m.

TBD

Central at Lowell

Division 2

* Haverhill............................................ 8-6

Chelmsford........................................... 5-8

Billerica .................................................5-8

*Clinches first MVC divisional title since 2005.