LAWRENCE — After opening the season with eight straight ho-hum pars — all comfortable wins — Central Catholic had to scramble to close out a spotless front nine.
Pushed out of their game by a rejuvenated and resurgent Lawrence High squad, the Raiders found new, innovative ways to a hard-fought 60-54 decision, before a high-energy gathering of about 750 last night.
"That's not the same Lawrence High team we've seen early this year," said coach Rick Nault. "They had some tough losses, but that's a top 20 team in Massachusetts right there. They did what the good teams are going to do, that is pressure our guards fullcourt, then pack it in around Jimmy (Zenevitch) and Carson (Desrosiers). How we respond will tell how good this team can be."
Lawrence dictated the pace all night, most notably in the third quarter when the Lancers actually led, 30-27.
Zenevitch (2 of 9) was struggling for the first time all year, and Desrosiers was saddled with three fouls with four minutes to go in the quarter.
But No. 3 on the Wake Forest-bound senior seemed to flip a switch. Desrosiers responded, buoying his team with a thunder dunk followed by a three, a feed to Zenevitch, who was hacked and made a pair, and a pullup jumper.
The lead stretched to 42-34, and the Lancers couldn't close the margin.
Desrosiers scored a season high 20 points along with 12 rebounds and 4 blocks, but it was the unsung Raiders who provided the cushion.
Luis Puello, the sophomore leaper, chipped in nine points and a team-high 13 boards against his hometown rivals.
"Michael (Alvarez - ankle) got hurt, he's a real leader, I just had to step it up. This team is full of guys who want to make plays, I'm just one of them," said Puello. "We all have to do what we can so guys like Carson and Jimmy can trust us out there. It's going to make us a better team."
Andrew Ouellette and Evan Sheehan made the Lancers pay by finishing well against the press. The two combined for 15 points, and Cam Wroblewski drilled a major triple in the third when Lawrence was teeming with emotion.
"The second half, with Carson in foul trouble, we got great play from the bench with Drew, Cam and Evan Sheehan," said Nault.
Silky smooth Jaylen Alicea paced the Lancers with 20 points, and Jose Berroa joined Desrosiers in the rim-rocker club with a nasty breakaway two-hander highlighting his 10-point night.
"You just have to be careful, you don't want to be satisfied coming in second when there's only two teams," said coach Paul Neal, whose team fell to 7-4. "We played hard, we looked like a team, but we're not playing to come close.
"I saw a lot of good things. So many guys did so many little things. We have to bottle that and just keep working to get better."
Central Catholic 60, Lawrence 54
Lawrence (54): Kadeem Perez 0 0-1 0, Alison Cueto 1 0-0 2, Jaylen Alicea 7 4-5 20, Yadoris Arias 2 1-2 7, Francis Spraus 3 0-0 6, Jesse Hiraldo 2 0-1 4, Jose Berroa 5 0-0 10, Michael Calzetta 1 0-0 2, Dawrin Pereyra 1 0-0 3, Totals 22 5-9 54
Central Catholic (60): Cam Wroblewski 1 0-0 3, Jaycob Morales 0 2-2 2, Andrew Ouellette 4 0-1 8, Evan Sheehan 3 1-2 7, Luis Puello 3 3-5 9, Michael Alvarez 1 1-3 3, Jimmy Zenevitch 2 4-7 8, Carson Desrosiers 9 1-2 20, Totals 23 12-22 60
3-pointers: L — Alicea 2, Arias 2, Pereyra; CC — Desrosiers, Wroblewski
Lawrence (7-4):âÇ9âÇ12âÇ18âÇ15 — 54
Central Catholic (9-0):13âÇ11âÇ22âÇ14 — 60