LAWRENCE -- Is it the constant drama, an air of mischief, or just a bit of his dad’s Westchester County swagger showing through?
Love him or hate him, he is Central Catholic senior Lucas Hammel and for some reason, your eyes always find him.
By many accounts, Hammel was the deciding factor in the two clashes between the Raiders and North Andover.
Two weeks ago, all Hammel could do was sit in sweats, tend to his bruised-up thigh and watch his teammates spiral to late defeat without him.
Last night, he was back here in the trenches, knocking down triples, pestering anyone in a Black Knight uniform and backboning a nasty Raider second-half defensive effort.
“Lucas made all the difference in the world,” said Central coach Rick Nault. “He’s our leader on the floor out there. He really gets after it. We challenged him tonight, putting him on Derek Collins an awful lot out there. He certainly proved how important he is to us.”
The elation Hammel and his mates shared after last night’s 70-60 win can only be fleeting. A trip to the dungeon (Dunn Gym in Andover) looms Friday night, followed by an IAABO Board 130 tourney laden with three of the state’s top 10 teams and finally an MVC-title deciding trip to Lowell.
But you can forgive the excitement, considering how low Hammel was just 15 days ago.
“It killed me to have to sit there and watch it all happen,” said Hammel of Central coughing up a second-half, 18-point lead to the Knights back on Jan. 29. “You’re sitting there helpless, with a giant pit in your stomach. Nothing has ever hurt me so much.”
Hammel found a way to net a positive out of the Raiders’ only conference defeat that night in the Crozier Fieldhouse. Through all the bluster and that contagious flurry of North Andover 3-point bombs, Hammel found a flaw.