Hands over his head in frustration as he made his way to the bench after being whistled for his fifth foul, Everett High junior Gary Clark was not ready to call it a night.
Although the Crimson Tide held a 32-point cushion over Malden High in the Division 1 North first-round tourney matchup when he fouled out with five minutes remaining, Clark felt that he had more to give.
The 6-foot-3 forward submitted nine points, five rebounds, three assists, and three steals in an 80-43 victory. It was a quiet night by his standards.
But there was nothing quiet about his mere presence in the paint, where he consistently drew double teams and forced contested shots at the defensive end.
Which is no surprise, because his play has been essential in Everett’s inspired run to the tournament.
“He is our go-to guy now,” said Everett coach John DiBiaso , whose 17-4 team, the second seed in the Division 1 North bracket, took on Somerville in a quarterfinal Friday night.
In his third year as a starting forward, Clark has made that “leap” this season.
His versatility makes him a difficult cover.
Clark can hit the outside shot, post up on the block against smaller defenders, and blow by big men at the top of the key.
“He doesn’t really have many weaknesses to his game,” DiBiaso said of Clark, who is averaging 17 points and eight rebounds per game this season.
“He’s evolved from a role player [in his first two years] to a guy we lean on and run our offense through.”
Thriving under his new role that carries with it added responsibility, Clark vows that it’s his time “to lead the team the best way I can.”
“I have to pick my team up when we’re down,” he said. “That’s what it’s all about.”
Clark is one of a handful of young players who have made an impact with their tourney-bound teams this winter.
At St. Mary’s of Lynn, sophomore guard Anthony Silfa powered the Spartans to a 16-4 mark entering Thursday’s quarterfinal matchup against Maimonides.
Averaging a team-leading 23 points and eight rebounds per game in his first season at St. Mary’s after his transfer from Lynn English, the 6-2 combo guard has a freakish natural scoring ability that caught the eye of first-year coach Dave Brown .
“He’s one of the best-kept young secrets in the state,” Brown said of Silfa. “As a guy who’s coached 10 plus years of high school basketball, talent-wise, he’s the best I’ve seen.”
In addition to his range and ability to create his own shot, Silfa makes life easier for his teammates by drawing double teams.
Silfa credits the growth of his shooting form to studying countless hours of college and NBA film and highlights.
He built on his step-back and cross-over moves after watching Freddie Hogan , his former Lynn English teammate.
“I’m just working as hard as I can to be the best in the city,” Silfa said. “Just going hard every day and every second; there’s no such thing as giving up.”
At Salem High, junior forward Bryan Martinez-Rodriguez has been “invaluable” as a first-year starter for coach Tom Doyle.
The 6-foot-3 forward averages 13 points and eight rebounds per game, yet even those solid numbers do not speak to his value for the Witches (16-4).
Martinez-Rodriguez is the ultimate team player, said Doyle, one who is never out for glory.
He plays nearly every minute of every game with an unmatched passion and fire.
“Coming into the year, we told him what we expected, and he goes out and does that and more,” said Doyle.
“He comes out of nowhere and can just produce numbers that fill the stat sheet; the total package he brings is special“
Woburn (16-5) rode the hot play of sophomores Mat Catizone and Brandon Moscat to the fifth seed in the Division 2 bracket.
In their second season under coach Tom Sullivan , the 5-11 Catizone (13 points, five rebounds, four assists per game) and 5-8 Moscat (eight points, six assists, five rebounds a game) play off each other and set the tone for the Tanners.
“When the lights go on, their games elevate,” Sullivan said of the two.
“They make me look like a good coach.”
In Methuen, Tim Galloway-Burke has emerged as one of Merrimack Valley’s top two-way threats.
While the Rangers (8-14) did not qualify for the Division 1 tournament, the 6-5 center was dominant, averaging 20 points per game.
With an arsenal that features the post-up, mid-, and 3-point range, along with his shot-blocking presence, Galloway-Burke “has a really bright future ahead of him.”
“I think he’s the toughest cover in the league,” first-year coach Anthony Faradie said of his junior.
“He naturally stepped up as the leader on a young team,” Faradie added.
Peabody’s Scacchi hits 1,000 milestone
Earlier this month, Carolyn Scacchi bounced around on a big exercise ball near the desk of Peabody High girls’ coach Jane Heil .
With eight games left in the regular season, and 173 points shy of surpassing 1,000 career points, the senior forward asked her coach what she needed to do to reach the milestone mark.
“I told her she needed to average about 20 points the rest of the way,” Heil recalled.
Scacchi took note, and averaged 20.4 points per game in the final eight games.
She entered Tuesday’s Division 1 first-round game against Reading 10 points shy of the milestone.
Late in the first half, Scacchi pulled up from the top of the key and drilled a 3-pointer to hit the grand total.
“She must have jumped 40 feet in the air when that shot went in,” said Heil, who was coaching her 700th game in her 33d season with the program.
“The crowd and the bench went nuts.”
Scacchi finished the night with a game-high 20 points, and more importantly, was integral in a 58-44 victory for the Tanners (16-5), the first tourney win for this group of seniors.
“It was the best feeling in the world to get it at home in a win,” Scacchi said. “I couldn’t have done it without my teammates and my coach.”
Heil said Scacchi’s inspired play of late had “lifted the whole team.”
“I’ve been under the opinion that you can’t give more than 100 percent effort mathematically,” Heil added. “Well, [Carolyn] found that 110 percent that everyone talks about.”Joseph Saade can be reached at email@example.com.