Joey Crowley could not have been any closer to Allister Williams without giving him a hug.
The Concord-Carlisle High junior captain was but a breath away from Bedford’s top scorer because it was his job. The Patriots’ defensive stopper shadowed Williams all over the court, never leaving the senior small forward no matter where he ran.
At times, Williams would stop and stand still, well removed from the play, 40 feet from the basket. Still, there was Crowley, in his defensive stance, staring at his opponent’s chest, ready to move.
“My coaches talk to me and say if you can make a 20-point scorer score four points, then that’s the 16 points you’re contributing,” Crowley said. “We have other guys that can score. If that’s what I’ve got to do for us to win, then that’s what I want to do.”
Crowley is just one of a roster full of Concord-Carlisle players obsessed with defense. The Patriots (14-1) are the stingiest team in the Dual County League, allowing just 46.3 points per game. They held Williams to seven points last week in Bedford during a 64-41 win that clinched the league’s Small Division title for just the fourth time in school history, and the first since 2007.
“The key for us really has been our defense,” said coach David Cohen . “The common thread through our season is the ability to leave our fingerprints on the game with energy and intensity.’’
Cohen’s scheme is decidedly old school. His players have played man-to-man, half-court defense for 95 percent of the season, he said. If an opposing team has one standout player, that player more than likely will get the too-close-for-comfort treatment.
‘My coaches talkto me and say if you can make a 20-point scorer score four points, then that’s the 16 points you’re contributing.’
Senior guard Jon Dor sometimes pulls the job to deny a star the ball at all costs.
“It’s pretty hard,” Dor said of the effort required. “But the hardest thing about it is to just keep your composure when your player is pushing you off, talking to you, saying ‘Get off me.’ That part’s hard.”
Crowley has had similar experiences. Last season, playing a DCL rival, a player complained to a referee because he thought Crowley was trying to kiss him.
A student of former NBA star Reggie Miller and the head games he would play, Crowley does not mind when an opponent loses his cool.
“He used to kind of break people down mentally,” Crowley said of Miller. “That’s kind of my goal.”
The team’s defense then leads to its transition offense, where the Patriots feature two of the best finishers west of Interstate 95: senior captains Blaine Taylor and Jamir Henderson .
Taylor, a four-year varsity player, used his 6-foot-6 frame to put up 16 points and 19 rebounds in his team’s championship-clinching win over Bedford. He has a variety of moves in the post that he can turn to, and his soft hands make him an easy target for teammates driving the lane.
“I’m blessed to have a good, consistent, traditional big man to play with,” Henderson said of Taylor, who averages 15 points and 13 rebounds a game. “A lot of teams are playing small ball nowadays. But it’s good to know if I’m getting doubled or pressured, I can just dump it down low and get an automatic free throw or buckets. It’s really good.”
Henderson (17 points per game) leads the team in scoring, and in his three years playing for Cohen he has rarely been removed from the action to sit on the bench.
“Given his ability, Jamir could shoot the ball any time he wants,” Cohen said. “But he is totally focused on the team outcome. For our seniors that have had success and individually accomplished a great deal — both Jamir and Blaine just in three years have probably scored 700 or 800 points, and Blaine probably will end up the all-time leading rebounder at Concord-Carlisle — they are totally focused on team goals.”
The Patriots won 13 games in a row after losing to Woburn back in December. To continue its success, the team will lean on a variety of contributors, including versatile sophomores Austin Hoey (the football team’s quarterback last fall) and Eric Sellew .
They have made the most of their first significant varsity action this season. Hoey finished the win over Bedford with 10 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, and two blocks. Sellew, a 6-5 forward who can shoot from beyond the arc, had nine points and seven rebounds.
Combined with their pestering defense, the Patriots are owners of a well-rounded attack that they hope will suit them well when they compete in the Division 2 Central tournament for the first time this season, after making the move from Division 2 North.
Kelly sets Lexington mark with 52 points
The Lexington High girls headed into the locker room after beating Belmont on Tuesday, 76-59, and coach Steve Solly knew he should do something he had not very often done in postgame meetings: He would recognize an individual player’s stats.
He felt he had to. After all, the 52 points scored by sophomore Anna Kelly were a school record.
“We have to acknowledge someone here publicly as a team because we don’t do it enough,” Solly said he told his players. “Obviously she does a lot for our program, but that was a pretty special performance tonight for Anna. She ended up scoring 52 points.”
Her response? “Wow, I did?”
“I was really surprised,” Kelly said later. “I thought I was around the 30-point range. I guess I had a little bit more than that.”
Her personal-best performance was the result of going six of 10 from 3-point land, eight of 10 in free-throw attempts, and 19 of 34 from the floor. The 5-foot-6 guard also posted 11 steals and 10 rebounds for a triple-double.
“And on the rest of our points, she probably had the assists to go with them,” Solly said. “She does it all. She’s a catalyst.”
Kelly has improved on her midrange jump shot and her floater since her freshman season, when she averaged 18 points a game for Lexington.
After traveling to Colorado Springs in May as one of two girls from New England to try out for the USA women’s U-16 national team — Braintree junior Bridget Herlihy was the other — Kelly understood the facets of her game that could use the most refinement. She worked tirelessly while playing for her Amateur Athletic Union team, the Mass Huskies, and competing in summer and fall leagues at Woburn High.
As Lexington’s only returning starter from last year’s squad that featured six seniors, Kelly has averaged 26.3 points per game. She has already received some interest from Division 1 college programs, but as of last week her greatest concern was helping her team win its final three games to earn an MIAA tournament berth.
“It’s about the team,” she said. “As long as the team is doing well, then I’m happy.”
1,000 and counting
Maynard High senior Ryan Fowler joined the school’s 1,000-point club on Tuesday after scoring 22 points to go along with 12 rebounds in a 74-33 win over Littleton. The Tigers clinched the Midland Wachusett League’s D Division title with the win. Fowler is a three-sport athlete; he also competes in soccer and track. His brother, Mike , also scored 1,000 points for Maynard before graduating in 2010.
Assabet Valley Regional senior guard Tia Joubert became the first girl in the Marlborough vocational school’s 41-year history to hit the 1,000-point mark when she scored nine points in a 61-42 win over University Park to give her 1,003 for her career. The 5-6 Joubert tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee during the team’s second practice of the season but returned to action, outfitted with a brace, after missing just the first three games of the year. She helped the team go 16-1 and clinch the Colonial League title. Coach Mark Ferreer , who has coached boys’ and girls’ high school basketball off and on for 25 years, said in an e-mail that Joubert is “without a doubt the most courageous kid that I’ve ever coached.” She will have surgery next month.Phil Perry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.