LAWRENCE — Central Catholic is so feared and so respected, the Raiders are the unanimous pick as the team to beat in the 38th annual Greater Lawrence Boys Christmas Tourney.
This despite point guard Lucas Hammel expected to miss the tourney due to injury and the Raiders playing a tune-up tomorrow night vs. vaunted St. Anthony’s of Jersey City.
Additionally, North Andover and Andover being about as formidable as any other team in the state.
The tourney opens up tonight at Lawrence High with two games. Andover plays North Andover at 6 and Lawrence takes on Methuen at 7:45 p.m.
Team to Beat
Central Catholic 3-0
Leading scorers: Joel Berroa 16.7, Doug Gemmell 13.7, Tyler Nelson 13.3 (11 3s), Nick Cambio 13.0
Odds and ends: The Raiders are ranked No. 1 in EMass. and they’ve done it without the ultimate glue guy, Lucas Hammel (pulled groin). He’s expected to miss the tourney. Jamahl Lopez is starting in his place at point guard. ... The Raiders have championship pedigree on the coaching staff. Head coach Rick Nault, the great Jonathan Cruz, Wilfredo Pagan and Jose Otero all won Christmas Tourney titles as Central players. ... Tyler Nelson is the only sophomore in the 37-year history of the tourney to be named MVP. Nelson and Joel Berroa both have scholarship offers from UMass Lowell. ... The Raiders are averaging 80.3 points with a 29.3-point victory margin. ... This is a busy stretch for CCHS. Tomorrow at 8 p.m. at Emmanuel College in Boston, the Raiders will be taking on legendary St. Anthony’s of Jersey City, which is coached by Bob Hurley Sr., one of the few high school coaches in the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Leading scorers: Sam Dowden 17.0, Chris Dunn 12.0, Max Silveira 8.7
Odds and ends: Andover was ranked No. 14 in EMass but should move up after topping No. 8 Brockton. ... The Golden Warriors are Number 2A or 2B in the Christmas Tourney with North Andover. We’ll find out tonight! ... It’s a resilient bunch as they continue to win while shorthanded. Promising 6-5 sophomore Connor Merinder (wrist) and sophomore guard Reid Bryant (knee) are expected to miss the tourney. ... Co-captains Sam Dowden (ankle) and Chris Dunn (mono) are healthy.
North Andover 3-0
Leading scorers: Chris Bardwell 24.3 ppg, Derek Collins 15.3, Isaiah Nelsen 14.0, Brendan Miller 6.7
Odds and ends: The Knights have a lofty No. 2 overall ranking (behind just Central Catholic) in the Globe EMass. rankings. ... The Knights rank number 2A or 2B in the Christmas Tourney along with tonight’s opponent Andover. ... Rick Gorman of the Donovan’s Fall Ball League borrowed a line from the N.Y. Yankees and dubbed Derek Collins, Chris Bardwell, Isaiah Nelsen and Brendan Miller “The Core 4.” Alex Gorgoni rounds out the starting five. ... Former Lawrence assistant Dan Rasanen has joined the staff. His wife is North Andover Hall of Famer Lisa Jensen Rasanen. ... Bardwell, a senior big man who was a deep reserve at Central, has exceeded all expectations, while Derek Collins, who missed most of last year after back surgery, is healthy and lighting it up from deep.
Leading scorers: Kevin Fabian 13.3, Bryan Morales 12.3, Julius Martinez 11.3, Roberto Speing 11.0, Tre’Von Farley 9.0
Odds and ends: Lawrence got great news when Tre’Von Farley got a waiver to play this season. ... New coach Raymond Nunez (Central Catholic in 2000) is the second former Christmas Tourney MVP to be a head coach in the tourney. The other was former Methuen coach Rich Barden. ... Julius Martinez is a transfer from Boston English. ... The Lancers got a good draw with the top three teams — Central, Andover, North Andover — on the other side of the bracket.
Greater Lawrence 3-1
Leading scorers: Javier Franjul 16.0, Frankely Estrella 12.5, Oscar Reynoso 11.3
Odds and ends: The Reggies have opened some eyes with a 3-1 start. ... Record-setting running back Cristian Rivera has been a key contributor. ... Few in the region are as prolific as Javier Franjul, who in addition to his scoring cleans the glass with the best of them including 19 boards in his last outing.
Hope to Surprise
Leading scorers: Tim Galloway-Burke 14.5, Mark Sicard 12.0, Nathan Bueno 11.5, Cooper Hammel 11.0
Odds and ends: Tim Galloway-Burke, a talented 6-5 sophomore, holds an edge over his sister, Abby, in the family scoring race. She’s averaging 13.7 ppg for the Ranger girls. ... Mark Sicard is the youngest of seven. His six siblings (Mary, Kelly, Kara, Kristin, Sean and Michael) were all standout athletes at Lawrence High. ... Senior Nathan Bueno has scored 23 points and the other 91 points have all come from sophomores.
Leading scorers: Scott Bradley 13.0, Luke Rosinski 10.5, Cam Welch 10.5, Luke Testa 7.5
Odds and ends: The Astros host Keene tonight then begin play in the Christmas Tourney tomorrow. ... Talented 6-6 freshman Luke Rosinski is the son of head coach Peter Rosinski. Some other tourney father-son combos were Mike and John McVeigh at North Andover, Dave and D.J. Fazio at Andover and Jim and Andrew Weymouth at Methuen.
Leading scorers: Steven Nugent 11.5, Jeff Frias 11.0, Jack Hartman 11.0, Miguel Pimentel 9.0, Michael Felix 6.0
Odds and ends: The Blue Devils host Trinity tonight then open up play in the Christmas Tourney tomorrow. ... Hours after an Eagle-Tribune feature story proclaimed Andrew Ruffen 100 percent healthy, he was diagnosed with a foot injury and will be out for the tourney. ... The Blue Devils have a father-son assistant coaching duo with Brian Stanton and former Salem great Nate Stanton (127 Christmas Tourney points).
Follow Michael Muldoon on Twitter under the screen name @MullyET.