EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Sports

February 17, 2010

Friends, rivals collide tonight

Nobody wants to be at the mercy of a coin flip.

And therein lies the significance tonight when 19-1 Central Catholic hosts 18-1 St. John's Prep in the season finale for both.

"Depending on a win or loss, we could go from the 2 to the 4," said Raider Carson Desrosiers. "That could be a huge swing."

The difference between the second and fourth seeds in the upcoming Division 1 North tourney is significant, considering that the winner can elude defending EMass champ Lynn English until the North title game. The loser most likely heads to a coin flip that could make the rocky road of D1 North that much more treacherous.

Tonight (7 p.m.) the Hampshire Street showdown takes a new face as Desrosiers gets the opportunity to square off with one of his closest friends, Prep guard Tripp Doherty of Andover.

"It's the biggest game of my life, I'd have to say," said Doherty, who is averaging about 12 points a game. "All the kids I grew up playing AAU with are on that team. Some of my best friends in town go to Central. It's pretty much a final homecoming for me and finally we have a program that can be there and compete.

"(Playing against Desrosiers) is even a little more incentive. I've read all the hype about him and I agree with everything. I'm just going to try and look past the fact that he's headed to the ACC, look past the 6-11 and try to score on him."

Doherty and the Prep aren't creeping up on people anymore.

Opponents have incurred the wrath of 6-foot-4 Eagles' junior Pat Connaughton, who leads Eastern Mass. Division 1 at 23.7 points a game.

"The kid can score anytime he wants, on anybody," said Doherty. "He's really been our X-factor."

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