EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

March 10, 2013

Hall's dream night lifts Raiders

Hector Longo
hlongo@eagletribune.com

---- — LOWELL — Back in mid-January as he languished outside the rotation, Aaron Hall dreamed of a night like this.

Of course, he was probably planning for next year.

But injuries happen and, forced into the fray down the stretch, Hall has answered the call.

“He had a career night, just sitting under the hoop,” joked Raider coach Rick Nault of the 6-foot-6 junior, who made Lynn English pay repeatedly for its press.

Hall had a career-high 21 points as the Raiders tackled English in the North championship game, 83-58, here at the Tsongas Center.

“They’re extra-aggressive on their traps, and he really hurt them on the back end,” said Nault.

Hall, who had averaged about 4.6 points a game since the injuries to Doug Gemmell and Nick Cambio, was simply immense under the giant spotlight.

“They left me open all night — I was a little lonely,” said Hall. “Nobody covered me, so it was easy. I mean, it’s an important situation, so they are big hoops. But like coach said, I think we all have to step up our games.”

Hall had 71 points on the season coming in, most of those early as Nault pared his rotation for the MVC stretch run.

But now, teams will have to account for him, starting Tuesday night with Mansfield at the TD Garden.

Hammel absolutely huge

Think of the heat on Lucas Hammel, coming into last night’s game.

The English guards have simply decimated some of the best backcourts this state has with their pressure.

And the ball, for much of the night, would be in Hammel’s hands.

“I just did all I could to keep up my confidence,” said Hammel. “I knew with their pressure, I would have a couple of turnovers, but I just wanted to stay confident and aggressive. I’m a better player when I’m not holding back. I’m a better player when it’s a game like this, a little wild and a little crazy.”

Hammel killed English repeatedly, especially when he went to the basket. The senior finished with 9 points, 7 assists and only 4 turnovers.

“I’m feeling great right now,” said Hammel, who went on record late in the season stating his team’s goal was a state title. And now the Raiders are two games away.

“I love the way we’re playing, and I like where we are at,” he added.