division 1 north semifinal: No. 2 Lowell 68, No. 3 Everett 60

Sport: Basketball (boys)

Posted: March 5th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

division 1 north semifinal: No. 2 Lowell 68, No. 3 Everett 60
LAWRENCE -- For a fleeting moment, Lowell was on the ropes. Everett had stormed back from a 15-point, first-half deficit to take its first lead of the second half when Jerome Cohen laid Isaac Johnson's inbounds feed off the glass with little more than four minutes to play.

Someone had to go home. Lowell was more than happy to be that team.

The Raiders never landed a real knockout punch, but instead answered with a couple of haymakers. On the next trip down the floor, sharpshooting Jaime Shannon splashed a 3-pointer from the wing and Nathan Simpson followed with a crowd-rousting two-handed jam as Lowell regained control of the tilt and emerged with a 68-60 triumph in a Division 1 North semifinal in Lawrence.

While Everett goes home with its season over, the second-seeded Raiders head home to meet Merrimack Valley Conference rival Central Catholic in the sectional final Saturday at Tsongas Arena in the shadow of Lowell High School.

"We were able to finish the game tonight," said Lowell coach Scott Boyle, whose squad overcame a woeful second half at the charity stripe (4 for 14) to prevail. "These seniors have been with me for three or four years now and they have that big-game experience."

Lowell led by as much as 10 in the first quarter and 15 before the half as Nick Schermerhorn's 3-pointer from the corner gave the Raiders a 36-21 advantage with 3:20 to go before the intermission.

Everett simply wouldn't go away. Riding an absolute stubbornness to roll over by Johnson, the Tide rallied time and time again. A jumper by Johnson pulled Everett within three (50-47) after three quarters and, with help from Cohen, the Tide pulled ahead with 4:30 to play.

It was short-lived, however. Shannon splashed a 3-pointer when the defense collapsed on a driving Jethro Collie as Lowell regained the lead. Everett couldn't muster the tying basket with a couple opportunities and Simpson forced a turnover near midcourt. He raced in ahead of Cohen and delivered a two-handed jam that re-ignited the Lowell faithful.

Sprinkle in a steal/layup combo for Shannon, as well as a downright filthy fadeaway by the senior guard a short time later, and Lowell had some breathing room. Senior Matt Welch inserted the dagger with just over a minute to with a triple of his own that put the Raiders on top, 66-57.

It also ignited a "We want Central!" chant from the Lowell faithful. It echoed the sentiments of a similar chant those Raider supporters started as Central was dispatching top-seeded Charlestown in overtime Tuesday in Reading.

The two MVC rivals split the season series with each team winning their home game.

"They're definitely our biggest rival," said Welch. "We match up so well. It should be a great game and there should be a good crowd there."

Shannon and Welch finished with 14 points apiece Wednesday to pace the Raiders. David Brown kicked in 10 more for Lowell, which also got steady bench contributions from Collie and Julian Scott (combined 13 points).

Everett leaned on Johnson to simply remain in the game late. Big man Jerome Cohen tossed in 18 points, but fouled out with 2:19 to go and the game slipping away. Johnson scored 15 of his team-high 22 points in the second half. Only four players scored in the second half for Everett, while no other player besides Cohen and Johnson contributed more than a bucket.