How SWEET it is
STATE TOURNAMENT: Sweet 16 Predictions
By Taylor Pettiford | Metrowest League Coordinator
The first round of our state tournament is in the books and sixteen teams have advanced to Westwood – home of this tournament’s Sweet 16. Below, we’ll break down each Wednesday matchup as our field duels to earn Ultimate 8 berths.
WESTWOOD – WEDNESDAY 12/5
7 p.m. – (3) EA$Y MONEY vs. (14) HUSTLE
Jason LaPlanche finally hits the court for the first time this tournament with his Westwood juggernaut – Ea$y Money. The team finished the season 7-1 and boasts a loaded lineup featuring forward Steph Eusebe, wing Mario Payne, combo guard Stephen Prescod, high energy man Curtis Williams and veteran Mike Lowney. Since the onset of the season, this team has looked to be the cream of the Westwood crop and plans on stopping the Westwood bleeding tonight as half their league has been eliminated.
In other news, according to various sources, captain Jason LaPlanche has GUARANTEED that Ea$y Money will be holding Joel Katana – UH Boston’s most prolific scorer – under 15 points. I repeat, LaPlance has guaranteed that a player who has not yet scored under 30 points in a game, won’t manage to get even half of that mark tonight.
On the other side of things, Hustle enters tonight after having knocked off Westwood’s Posterized in the first round on Monday. Led by Joel Katana (34.8 ppg career), Jeff Raymond’s crew is feeling heavily disrespected entering Wednesday’s matchup whereas the common sentiment is that their season ends tonight. Tomas Morales (hamstring), Tambo Barrow (finger), Drew Pettiford (hand), Matt Potenza (back) and Raymond (undisclosed) are all battling injuries. But their beat up roster doesn’t lack for fight and will come out swinging against Ea$y Money. This team has looked scary dangerous at times this season and will need to look so again, if they have any intentions of defeating Ea$y Money.
7 p.m. – (5) CLASSIC BARBERSHOP vs. (12) RUFF RYDERS
Classic Barbershop, Metrowest’s second-place regular season finisher, tips off at 7 p.m. on Court 2. Classic won every game this season…that wasn’t against Buckets Galore. Their 6-2 mark is marred by two losses to the number-one overall seed in the state. And each loss was by six points. This team is GOOD. Led by captain Jay Resto, Classic features a pesky defense that forces, on average, 14-plus turnovers per contest.
Patrick Luckett and Keyon Armstrong join Resto to form one of the speediest backcourts in the state while Jimmie Melton mans the paint as a perfect, floor-running, front court compliment. The Portillo brothers – Brandon and Emerson – play key supportive roles along with guard Jorge Fernandez and bruiser Tommy Rogers. Look for Classic to play an aggressive, uptempo game.
In what virtually amounts to a home game, Westwood’s Ruff Ryders take the court opposite Classic. Taking a .500 record into the playoffs, they defeated Westwood foe Spartans in a tough contest Monday night. Carlos Bermudez-Glean is not only the catalyst for this team, but also its star player. The 5’5 point guard dropped 31 points Monday to go along with 8 rebounds and 5 steals. Seeing him face off against Jay Resto will be worth the price of admission.
Captain Jason Murray’s ability to penetrate and Khris Padilla’s perimeter defense will be huge for Ruff Ryders, if they hope to pull off the 12v5 upset. Octavio Cruz’ return to action Monday was a welcome sight and they’ll need key minutes from the big man for a team that lacks in depth. The odds are stacked against Ruff Ryders, but 12v5 upsets tend to be the most common. Could we see one tonight?
8 p.m. – (7) STAMPEDE vs. (10) REBELS
Wally Callam is the frontrunner for GM of the year for his trading prowess this season. Despite being the butt of many a joke, Callam stuck to his guns and traded not one, but two starting point guards, a starting forward and a backup center after packaging his first and second round picks in the draft to land Tommy Hubbard. End result? A 5-3 record to go along with a first-round bye. Callam has the last laugh. But looking forward, how much further can this team go?
Hubbard, an all-Boston performer and championship MVP from the summer, averaged a double-double (31 ppg, 11.4 rpg) to go along with 5-plus assists per game. This team thrives and dies with his efforts. But rookie Roger Hamel, a Regis basketball alum, has been a welcome addition to the team scoring 19-plus ppg and shooting 45 percent from 3-point range over his final three contests. Add these two along with Callam and anchor, Jasper Landrum, in the front court and you can see why this team has been so successful. The problem tonight, however, is finding a fifth player…literally. Both Adam Rosario and Stephen Dion will be participating in the Metrowest Rec League semifinals and Niko Whitehead is out with tendon damage in his hand. We’re hoping they can coax Rosario to book it down I-95 following his rec game to round out Stampede’s lineup.
Micah Duarte’s first campaign as a captain has been a rollercoaster ride. The two-time champion drafted well, but his team hit a brutal four-game losing streak mid-season. Thankfully, however, they turned things around in a major way and have won their past three contests by a combined 110 points. They realize tonight won’t be nearly as easy, but come ready to keep their streak alive.
Shane Coleman took top PPR honors in MetroWest with 36 ppg and 10.2 rpg. His play has been the one constant for the Rebels. Of late, though, Duarte has gotten more involved in the offense, Taylor Pettiford has shot the ball well and rookie Aaron Anniballi has gotten comfortable. With their offensive firepower and Tiler Balboni manning the paint, the Rebels look much better than a 10-seed, but they’ve got their work cut out for them with Hubbard and crew.
8 p.m. – (4) THE ROX vs. (20) WARRIORS
Marco. Banegas. Flores. Too many he may be but an unknown name on the UH Boston circuit. But there are major rumblings out of Burlington that he may be the best guard in UH Boston. The Northeastern alum not only has DI pedigree, but professional experience under his belt as well. And he’s ready to lead Burlington’s top team to the Elite 8.
Thomas Ugbesia and Marquis Ensley saw their Westwood teams ousted in the first round, but live to die another day with their Burlington squad. This trio, along with Michael Albert, Marcus D’Angelis and Howard West make The Rox Burlington’s best shot at a Final Four berth.
The Warriors are the best 2-6 team in the state, don’t @ me. During halftime of their Monday matchup, a Westwood player asked, “Is this really a 20-seed?”. Yes, yes they are. To be fair, the Warriors were hindered by attendance issues all season. But when Guy Pistone and Sam Longwell were in the lineup alongside captain John Iarussi, this team was tough to beat.
Unfortunately, it’s looking likely that their season will end tonight as Longwell is doubtful due to coaching duties for his HS varsity team. Without him in the lineup and with a number of other players doubtful, this potential Cinderella story may come to an abrupt end.