---- — BOSTON — One night after barely surviving in the Greater Lawrence Christmas tourney semis, the Central Catholic boys basketball team nearly took down a national icon.
The Raiders pushed defending MaxPreps national high school champion St. Anthony’s of Jersey City to the brink, before falling, 54-50, last night at Emmanuel College.
Central will face unbeaten Lawrence tonight in the Greater Lawrence Christmas tourney championship (7:15 at Lawrence).
Nick Cambio hit 7 of 10 shots, pacing the Raiders with 15 points. His junior classmate Tyler Nelson tossed in a dozen points with five assists. Big man Doug Gemmell muscled his way to 10 points and nine rebounds for Central.
Central played back-and-forth with St. Anthony’s, which is currently rated sixth nationally, and got as close as 45-44 late in the fourth, before falling.
“We didn’t play great the night before (against Andover) so I’m very proud of our guys,” said Raider coach Rick Nault, who almost received the ultimated 41st birthday present last night. “From the opening tip we were ready. We knew we had a great task at hand, and the kids really went after it.
“It started with Lucas Hammel, setting the tone ... He challenged their point guard (Temple bound Josh Brown) on the opening possession and our team fed off that. He held him to 3-of-13 shooting from the field.”
Jamahl Lopez added seven points off the bench with some superb defense for the 45-1 Raiders.
St. Anthony’s 54,
Central Catholic 50
agateText:Central (50): Hammel 0-0-0, Nelson 4-1-12, Cambio 7-0-15, Berroa 1-2-4, Gemmell 4-0-10, Lopez 2-2-7, Hall 0-0-0, Perry 0-0-0, M. Barry 1-0-2, Totals 19-5-50
agateText:SA (54): Brown 3-2-8, Cooke 5-6-19, Jenkins 1-0-2, Brooks 3-0-6, Compas 2-0-5, Smith 2-0-4, Mosely 0-2-2, Coleman 2-4-8, Totals 18-14-54
Records: Central Catholic 4-1, St. Anthony’s 6-0