By Michael Muldoon
---- — ANDOVER — Max Silveira has heard the talk.
But he’s not buying that Central Catholic, Andover’s opponent Thursday at Lawrence High in the semifinals of the 38th annual Greater Lawrence Boys Basketball Christmas Tourney, is unbeatable.
“I don’t think that’s the case at all,” said the senior point guard. “We beat them in the summer and we’ve been playing real well. I think we have a very good chance.”
It doesn’t help that 6-4 Connor Merinder, one of the area’s top sophomores, is out with a broken wrist. But Andover thinks it can offset the Raiders’ intimidating height with its speed.
That quickness caused North Andover fits in the Golden Warriors’ opening round overtime victory.
Silveira, who averaged 6.2 points as a part-time starter last year and was averaging 8.7 points in Andover’s first three games, exploded for a career-high 17 points. He was 11 of 12 from the line, had a key late 3-point play and made a long pass to David Giribaldi for a late lay-up.
“That was definitely a big win,” said Silveira, who is doing a little bit of everything this season with averages of 5 assists, 2 steals and 4 deflections a game. “In terms of them being No. 2 (ranking in Eastern Mass.), we don’t look at rankings. We knew we had a good chance regardless of the rankings.”
It’s good he and the Golden Warriors don’t look at the rankings, which admittedly can be quite subjective. But Central is No. 1, and nobody who follows Massachusetts boys basketball would dispute that. Both clubs enter with 4-0 records.
Andover coach David Fazio wasn’t sure that Silveira would develop into a ballplayer when he moved to Andover from Wakefield four years ago.
“His improvement over the last four years has been remarkable,” said the 18th-year Andover coach. “He’s a much better athlete than anyone gives him credit for.”
Much taller, too!
A disappointed Silveira just shook his head when the Eagle-Tribune basketball previews and the Christmas Tourney program listed him at 5-11.
“At the doctor, I was measured at 6-feet and three quarters of an inch!” he insisted.
He’s measured up just fine for the Blue and Gold. Especially when the lights shine brightest, which he proved again in the tourney opener and last winter when he scored his previous career high of 15 points against Central.
“At the end of the game, we want the ball in his hands,” said Fazio. “He’s at his best in the big games.”
Silveira, who attended the Pike School in Andover while growing up in Wakefield, said he’s been thinking of adding another sport.
Andover assistant coach Carol Martini was so impressed watching Silveira play touch football in gym class that she encouraged him to go out for the varsity team. He nearly did.
Although he’s just 150 pounds, he said fear never entered the equation.
“I used to play in middle school,” explained Silveira. “I was a running back. I think I could definitely take the hits.”
He’s strongly considering track this spring. His parents, Doug and Ellen Silveira, were runners at Tufts with Doug’s accomplishments including a sixth at New Englands in the 1,000 meters. His brother, Sebastian, who is on the varsity soccer team, is an up and coming runner. He placed sixth in the 400 meters as a freshman last spring in the MVC Meet in 53.48 seconds.
Silveira takes his academics seriously, too. He might prep at Phillips Andover or Exeter and is also looking at some top academic schools like Tufts, Bard and Williams. Silveira, who would like to play college basketball, is taking AP physics and AP Spanish and scored 2,010 on his SATs.
Follow Michael Muldoon on Twitter under the screen name @MullyET.