Cushing Academy Wins Lawrence-Groton Holiday Tournament
GROTON, Mass. - An excellent matchup on Saturday at the Lawrence Academy Holiday Tournament featured a couple of storylines. There were several players on both teams who compete in the same AAU program, and also two of the better point guards in Massachusetts in Lawrence Academy senior Stevie Mejia and Cushing Academy sophomore Phil Pressey.
It wasn't a banner day for either floor leader as both battled foul trouble and some struggles from the field. Both had two fouls barely five minutes into the game, with three of the four coming on charges. But it was the sophomore who sparked a second half run and whose team came out on top, as Cushing took home the tournament title with a 68-61 win.
The game began as one of runs, with Lawrence scoring the first seven points before Cushing responded with 11 unanswered. Lawrence then took the lead for the remainder of the half with a 15-2 run, but Cushing closed in during the final minute to make it a 34-32 game at the break.
In the second half, Cushing regained the lead early, but it was short-lived as Mejia (17 points) scored and was fouled but missed the free throw as Pressey picked up his fourth foul. Pressey would return later and lead a run of 11 straight that gave them a 60-52 lead. Lawrence would get closer in the final minutes, but Cushing made enough free throws to hang on for the win.
Senior guard Robert Aery led Cushing with 19 points, including four three-pointers. He capitalized on several good looks created by both Presseys, as Phil added 13 points and older brother Matt had nine. Phil Pressey's body continues to mature and he was also very active in the passing lanes at the defensive end.
Darryl Cato-Bishop had 18 points and played a solid game for Lawrence. As is often the case, he also rebounded and passed from the perimeter to open teammates, while also knocking down a couple of three-pointers. His jumper will be important at the next level considering his size, as he's not likely to play the combo forward spots he generally assumes for his team now.
Lawrence sophomore Denzel Brito scored 13 points, showing some improved range on his jumper as he knocked down a couple of shots from well behind the three-point line.
Both teams will now break for about three weeks before their next games. Cushing enters the break at 7-0, while Lawrence is at 5-2. Lawrence was supposed to host Laurinburg on Thursday, but that game has been canceled. The two teams will also meet again on February 6 in Ashburnham.
Phil Kasiecki is the managing editor of Hoopville. To read more of his stories on high school and college basketball visit www.hoopville.net.