Myles Dias was forced to watch Carver’s season-ending 74-58 loss to Cathedral in last year’s Division 4 South semifinal from the bench.
Dias had suffered a concussion in a quarterfinal win over Southeastern five days prior, leaving the Crusaders minus their offensive catalyst.
“Last year was my first time in the tournament and I feel like when I got my concussion, I got cut short, so I didn’t get where I wanted to go,’’ said the 5-foot-9 Dias. “This year, I have been motivated and just working as hard as I can to get to where I want to be now that the tourney is coming up. I’m more focused than ever and ready to leave everything on the floor. And try to make it to [TD Garden].’’
With the state tournament right around the corner (the pairings/seedings will be released on Friday), Carver (16-4) has to be considered one of the favorites in Division 4.
And with a healthy Dias playing a prominent role at the point.
According to Carver coach Roger King, Dias has had the Cathedral loss, and his absence, on his mind since last season.
“We lost [to Cathedral] by 20, but even that game would have been one heck of a game if Myles had played,’’ said King.
“We’re a team that flies under the radar,’’ King continued. “The Rocklands, the Norwells, and the Abingtons have been prominent in our league for quite some years. That tourney run propelled us this year. We had four of five starters back, and we’re having a great year.’’
Dias, 33 points shy of 1,000 after Wednesday’s 81-77 win over Abington, has spent nearly this entire season as a South Shore League sidebar to Norwell’s Nick Volpe (24.4 points per game) and Rockland’s explosive trio of Matt Nicholson, Ricky Witt, and Tyler Gibson.
Yet, Dias has had a fantastic senior year for the Crusaders, averaging nearly 17 points a game.
For a team that doesn’t have any starters taller than 6 feet, the Crusaders sit third in the South Shore League behind Norwell and Rockland, and recorded huge victories over Norwell (its only loss in the season) and Cohasset. Dias has the ability to take over a game, showcased in a 27-point outburst against Harwich, but also has trust to dish the ball to his teammates Tevin Silva and Scott Alexander.
Dias is one of a handful of players who should figure prominently in their team’s success as tournament season arrives.
For example, much as the Crusaders’ playoff success could hinge on Dias, the same could be said for Old Rochester Regional and senior Max Risch.
There’s a reason his teammates call Risch “Mad Max.’’
The 6-foot-6 forward/center has made a habit of exploding for big numbers on both the offensive and defensive end of the court. In the season opener, he went off for 35 points, nearly 20 rebounds, and three dunks in an overtime victory against Bishop Stang. Last week against Nantucket, Risch led the Bulldogs with 28 points.
Risch, however, ran into foul trouble in two games against league champion Wareham, averaging just 8 points per game.
“Physically, he’s a very gifted kid,’’ said Wareham coach Kevin Brogioli. “He’s very athletic, very agile, and he has a good-looking jump shot. He can dunk fairly easily, and with authority. On any given night, he’s scary to opposing coaches, and he has the ability to go off for 30 points.’’
Much like Risch in the Division 3 South, the Division 2 South bracket boasts a rugged rebounder in Randolph junior forward Marc DuVerge.
If the Blue Devils make noise in the tourney, DuVerge will play a pivotal role.
“The kid’s solid as a rock,’’ said Randolph coach Kalon Jenkins. “He’s been working really hard. He’s been a leader by example, and he’s a kid that’s not only dependable, but a kid you can trust.’’
While he takes a back seat in points per game to senior cocaptains DJ Myers and D’Andre Lopes, DuVerge (10 points, 12 rebounds per game) is dominant on the boards. In two games against Blue Hills, DuVerge averaged 18 rebounds, while he also grabbed 20 as the Blue Devils upset former Patriot League rival Hingham on Dec. 28.
Hingham’s Eddie Bowler, a 6-2 junior, is also a key cog in his team’s success, putting up 16 points and 10 rebounds per game.
Bowler has been a strong, consistent player for the Harbormen, and is not afraid to step up offensively.
With Hingham facing a 16-point deficit against Scituate last week, Bowler poured in 26 points and 12 rebounds to rally the Harbormen past the Sailors, 72-64.
“He means a lot to us,’’ said Hingham coach Robert Kniffen. “Obviously, he’s a big offensive threat for us, but he’s also the glue that holds us together. He’s a hard worker, and his crazy passion and intensity is something every other guy on the court feeds off of.’’
Eric Whitaker is a difference maker for Marshfield. The Rams haven’t grabbed much Division 1 attention with league rival/Division 2 power Falmouth (15-1) on a dominant run in the Atlantic Coast League.
With plenty of attention being given to high-scoring junior guard Alex White, the door is open for Whitaker, a 6-1 senior forward who threw down 17 points and 11 rebounds against Nauset.
“He’s like a coal miner: He gets dirty,’’ said Marshfield coach Bob Fisher. “Construction worker type person. He plays every possession like it’s the end of the world, like it’s the last day on earth. . . . I have to call timeouts because we can least afford to take him out.’’
Hingham junior reaches 1,000
It took every one of Michela North’s 17 points to hang on against rival Hingham Tuesday night, but only one of those baskets will be remembered forever.
With 6:36 remaining in the second quarter, North stood at the foul line and calmly sank the 1,000th point of her career.
“I think to score 1,000 points in your junior year is a lot less common,’’ said Duxbury coach Bob Sullivan “I know the three girls prior to her did it in their senior years. [North] works hard at the game. She plays on an excellent AAU team (Bay State Breakers Elite), on a well-coached team in AAU. She is really passionate about the game.’’
The three-year varsity starter became the first Green Dragon to reach the 1,000-point plateau since Alison Love, who reached the mark in 2000. Before her, Lauren Fuller, later a standout at Bentley, reached the milestone for the Dragons in 1998.
More importantly to Sullivan, North is an exceptional honor roll student who has potential to attend an Ivy League university.
“I see her having a wonderful college career,’’ said Sullivan. “All the doors are open for her. Maybe she’s a Brown kid, maybe a Division 2 kid, maybe Amherst, but she’s going to do good things in her life, and at the end of the day, that’s what matters.’’
Milestones for two coaches
Two coaches hit important milestones this past week. Norwell boys’ basketball head coach John Willis earned his 300th victory in a 60-32 South Shore League victory over Hull on Monday. The next night, Wareham boys’ coach Kevin Brogioli registered his 250th career victory.