MIAA Week In Review
Talent in MIAA basketball is as even at the top as it has been in years, and that has been clearly displayed by the constantly changing top 25. Only two undefeated teams remain: Division 2’s Quabbin (14-0) and Division 3’s Wareham (15-0). Though much of the parity still remains, several teams in each division have emerged as potential favorites to make a run once the MIAA tournament comes around, but that being said upsets on any given night aren’t quite the surprise now that they may have been in years past; a true testament to the excitement in this season’s version of MIAA hoops.
Central Catholic (15-1) and Catholic Memorial (13-2) have both emerged as potential favorites in Division 1. CC has gotten a consistent scoring and rebounding presence from 6’3 junior Joel Barroa, an all-state type effort from senior guard Luis Puello, while sophomores Tyler Nelson and Nick Cambio have shown that they can carry this top-tier team on any given night. CM’s duo of thousand-point scorers, Matt Droney and Dan Powers, have lit up opponents on the perimeter this year and led their Knights to the Catholic Conference championship. Sophomore guard Aamahne Santos has been a bright spot for CM, as has big man Gerald Adams down on the block. Brockton, with their recent win over previously-undefeated Newton North, and BC High, led by star forward Jameilen Jones, both have the talent to make a run in the tournament when the time comes. Brockton has seen a steady improvement from standout guard Jaylen Blakely, who has proven himself as one of the top guards in the eastern half of the state. 6’6 senior center Sayvonn Houston has also been clutch for the Boxers; his strength, athleticism, and motor down low on the post has terrorized opposing teams all season.
In the western half of the state, Springfield Central, St. John’s Shrewsbury, and St. Peter-Marian have all knocked off a number of other top Division 1 teams. Kamari Robinson and Tyrell Springer have led one of the most talented Springfield Central teams in years to a 13-1 record and superiority in western Mass. In central Mass, 6’6 senior Matt Palecki has led the St. John’s Pioneers to the top spot in CMass, as the Pioneers look to win yet another central Mass. Division 1 championship. St. Peter-Marian has also been impressive thus far in the season, star shooting guard Matt Mobley is averaging 21 points per game.
In Division 2, Stoughton has separated themselves behind highly touted guard Aaron Calixte and 6’3 swingman Marcus Middleton. Calixte is a scholarship level point guard who has shown that he can light opponents up for 30 on any given night, while Middleton has been the do it all man for Stoughton on both ends of the floor. Antonio Ferreira is another player to watch out for in Stoughton, his defensive presence has been fantastic so far this year and give this team a tough punch. Brighton, led by Malik James and Nick Simpson, may be the biggest surprise of the year so far. The Bengals have asserted themselves as perhaps the best team in the city behind their impressive, high-pressure defense and tremendous amount of talent coming off the bench.
This year King Philip and New Mission both got a lot of the Division 2 headlines before the season started, and both have shown their tremendous potential as teams who are looking to make a run. As expected, KP’s Maryland-bound forward Jake Layman has been the top player in the MIAA this year. A strong 6’8, Layman can score it from anywhere on the floor, but has also carried his squad defensively with shot blocking and is all but a guarantee for at least a dozen rebounds a night. For the New Mission Titans, Isshiah Coleman is one of the premier athletic talents in the state. Coleman is a strong finisher who is hard to keep of the boards and constantly uses his long arms and great timing to block shots. North Andover, behind senior guard Zach Karalis and 6’5 junior Isaiah Nelsen, have also been one of the elite Division 2 teams in the state. In a loaded Division 2 north, NA is one of several logical choices because of their depth and defensive effort night in and night out. As mentioned above, out of central Mass. Quabbin is one of two undefeated teams left in the state, and they have been led all year by their standout point guard Christian Horton, who is fresh off scoring his 1000th point.
Division 3 has not been as wide-open this year as D1 and D2 have been. Whitinsville Christian is top team in the state right now in Division 3. The Crusaders have seen an all-state type performance out of highly-touted junior point guard Colin Richey, their showdown against Charlestown this Saturday on the road is guaranteed to be a good one. Danvers and Wareham also have proven worthy of high predictions because of their early season play. Danvers’ 6’6 senior George Merry is one of the premier players in Division 3 this year, as his usual dominant shot-blocking, rebounding, and post scoring have led the Falcons to a 12-2 record. Wareham, standing tall behind a perfect 15-0 record, has been annihilating opponents thanks to balanced scoring and shutdown defense. Though they have had a variety of different scorers, forwards Jeff Houde and Quintin Silveira, as well as guards Dan Thomas and Tyler Gomes, have all been leaders for yet another promising Vikings squad.