Cheverus stays perfect after nearly perfect start

Sport: Basketball (boys)

Posted: January 21st, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Cheverus stays perfect after nearly perfect start
By Michael Hoffer
Special to MBR
01/21/2008

PORTLAND- It isn't often that a team can essentially have a win salted away before the first period comes to a close, but that's exactly what the Cheverus Stags accomplished Monday night at Keegan Gym.

The Stags stayed undefeated with a 68-45 victory over the Westbrook Blue Blazes, due mostly to a 20-0 run to start the contest.

Cheverus' smothering defense forced numerous turnovers which led to easy layups and when the Stags were forced to shoot from the outside, they buried those as well as they moved to 12-0 on the season.

"We came out strong," said Cheverus senior Mick DiStasio, who led all scorers with 20 points. "We were really intense. We've been winning, but we haven't been playing particularly well."

The Stags have vanquished all foes this year, but are now in the midst of a brutal regular season-ending stretch. Saturday, Cheverus held off upset-minded Scarborough 54-42.

Monday, the Stags welcomed a dangerous Westbrook squad which entered the contest 7-5.

The Blue Blazes never knew what hit them.

It took a minute and 36 seconds for the scoring parade to start as DiStasio got things going with a layup. With 4:40 left in the first period, Stags' sophomore Indiana Faithfull converted a layup. Twenty-six seconds later, senior Doug Alston did the same. With 3:52 to go, DiStasio had another layup. Nineteen seconds later, it was senior Alex Fraser's turn. With 2:11 left in the quarter, Alston scored on a finger roll. Junior Dan Foster then added a jump shot, Alston scored on a layup after a steal and when Fraser scored on a layup with 57.2 seconds to go in the first, the lead was a mindboggling 20-0.

"That's how we play," Cheverus coach Bob Brown said. "We want to play fast."

Westbrook finally got on the scoreboard with 40.8 seconds to go in the period when senior Kyle Sanborn made one of two free throws. Senior Stephen LeBel hit a bank shot with time winding down to make it a 20-3 Stags' lead after one.

"We felt that it would be a tough game with their size," DiStasio said. "We felt if we used our quickness, we could get to them and take over and we did."

While Cheverus scored almost exclusively on layups in the first period, it demonstrated that it could score from the perimeter in the second quarter.

Senior Chris Hendrix got things started with a layup. After the Blue Blazes answered on a jumper from Sanborn, Stags' junior Ian Barwise made a foul shot. Westbrook sophomore Dominic Borilli made two foul shots, but Cheverus junior Ian Schwartz canned a jumper and DiStasio followed with the first of his 3-pointers for a 28-7 advantage.

DiStasio (14 second quarter points) would hit three more 3-balls in the period and Barwise canned another, helping the Stags lead 46-20 at the break.

"This year, everyone is playing as a team," DiStasio said. "We're quick. We're faster than most starting lineups. We have more depth. Our intensity and depth will help us hopefully take it to the Gold Ball."

Westbrook got as close as 21 points, 50-29, when sophomore Nick Jobin made two free throws with 2:30 to play in the third period, but Alston made two foul shots and senior Peter Foley scored on a rebound putback, pushing the lead back to 25, 54-29. It was 54-30 at period's end.

In the fourth, Westbrook cut the deficit to 20 points, 54-34, but the Stags never let the visitors enjoy anything resembling a run and put the finishing touches on their emphatic 68-45 triumph.

"Once you get a lead like that, it's tough to maintain," Brown said. "I thought we played very well in the first half. In the second half, they played better and we played worse."

DiStasio led with 20 points, but Cheverus actually had 11 different players merit inclusion in the scoring column. Alston finished with 10. Foley and Faithfull had eight apiece. Schwartz wound up with six. Barwise and Fraser had four, while Foster, Hendrix and junior Will White all had two points.

"I think we really don't drop off a lot when we go to the bench," Brown said. "The bench comes out there and speeds it up even more. They create havoc. We play pretty well together. We're playing better each game."

Westbrook (7-6 and seventh in the latest Western Class A Heal Points standings) was paced by 14 points from Sanborn and 10 from Borilli. The Blue Blazes return to action Friday when Portland comes calling.

The Stags (third in the Heals, behind Thornton Academy and Deering) host Deering Wednesday and go to South Portland Friday. Cheverus also has Deering again, South Portland again, Portland once more and also hosts Thornton Academy in a huge showdown Jan. 29.

"These next few games, we really need to step it up," DiStasio said. "Tonight, we showed if we play like a team, we can do good things.

"These next games will be a lot of fun. They won't be easy. We'll have to play our 'A' game every time we go out there. We have a big target on our backs and everyone wants to get us."