LAWRENCE- The boys wearing the sharp Nike navy and gold sat in the Charlestown cheering section. Deep down, though, Andover really wanted Central Catholic.
The top-seeded Raiders obliged while barely breaking a sweat in a 76-42 decimation of No. 16 Charlestown. Sunday's Division 1 North Quarterfinal showdown is now set here for 6 p.m., with 16-6 Andover challenging the 21-1 Raiders one last time.
"It's very emotional, no matter what happens. Everything is like, tripled," said Central junior Jimmy Zenevitch, "The rivalry is amazing." Central owned all three previous meetings this year, raising the victory streak over the Warriors to 12 in the Carson Desrosiers era.
"In my eyes, the last three wins mean nothing if we don't beat them Sunday," said Central Catholic Coach Rick Nault, "I just told the kids that. We know how tough an opponent Andover is and we'll need to be ready."
Last night, Central made quick work of the Townies, ripping off a 17-4 first quarter and never looking back. A Zenevitch (game-high 17 points) breakaway thunder dunk highlighted the quarter which saw all five Central starters head to the bench six minutes in.
Desrosiers was quiet, netting a season-low 2 points on 1-of-4 shooting.
The Wake Forest-bound big man did manage 9 rebounds, 4 blocks and 3 assists in only 16 minutes of work. Nault went to his bench early and often after his three guards, senior Michael Alvarez and juniors Jaycob Morales and Luis Puello had corralled control of the perimeter.
"They really did a nice job taking Charlestown out of its game early," said Nault, "And then we go to the bench with Drew Ouellette and Evan Sheehan who picked up right where they left off."
Alvarez and Sheehan finished with 9, with Puello dropping in 7.
Freshman Joel Berroa dominated the second half, scoring 14 of his career-high 16 after intermission.
A short-lived post-game celebration with the Raider student body ended abruptly with fan, player and coach alike all turning the page and focusing on Round 4 with Andover Sunday.