By Michael Muldoon
---- — LAWRENCE — An already daunting task for Lawrence High now appears even more daunting.
Central Catholic, the top-ranked team in Eastern Mass., had defending national champion St. Anthony’s on the ropes last night before falling 54-50.
That says a lot about what the boys from Hampshire Street can do.
The challenge for the Raiders is can they play three big games in three nights? They rallied late to beat Andover Thursday in the semifinals of the 38th annual Christmas Tourney and then played St. Anthony in Boston last night.
Central (5-1) and Lawrence (5-0) will square off today at 7:15 p.m. at Lawrence High in the latest installment of this storied inter-city rivalry.
Central has a big edge in the height department but so did Pinkerton and the Lancers (5-0) rolled past the Astros in the semis.
Lawrence’s 6-3 junior Roberto Speing is a quick leaper and 6-2 senior Tre’Von Farley is a workhorse in the paint.
Denny Gonzalez, a bruising 6-2, 225-pound football/basketball player, could play an important role as well for the host Lancers.
Central counters with 6-5 Nick Cambio, 6-4 Doug Gemmell and 6-4 Joel Berroa and two 6-2 starting guards.
“This is what everybody waits for,” said Farley. “Everybody thinks the odds are against us. It will be crazy.”
Central is the defending champion and has won the title four of the last five years including last year’s 75-65 win over the Lancers.
Lawrence’s last title came in 2006.