Boys Team First in 17 Years to Make State Tournament

To paraphrase Starship Enterprise Captain James T.  Kirk’s opening lines from the old (1960s vintage) Star Trek TV series, the Revere High boys’ basketball team will be going where no Patriot boys’ team has gone since 2001.

The 2016-2017 Boys Varsity Basketball team with their coaches.

Coach David Leary’s squad reeled off four straight wins in the past week, making it seven wins in their last eight games, to qualify for the MIAA post-season state tournament, ending a 16 year drought for the RHS boys hoop program. The Patriots, who stood at 12-8 entering the opening game Monday at the General Patton Basketball Tourney at Hamilton-Wenham High School, began their push for a Journey to the Tourney with a 55-46 triumph last Friday at Winthrop.  Revere jumped out to a fast start, grabbing a 20-9 lead at the first buzzer, and continued to build its margin, enjoying a double-digit advantage at the half, 32-20, and a 16-point bulge after three periods.

Senior center Mass Joof was a dominant force at both ends of the floor, hitting for 13 points, grabbing 23 rebonds, and blocking three shoots.  Senior forward Marvin Urdaneta chipped in a nice double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds and Curtis High led all scorers with 21 points.

“We knew Winthrop liked to play fast and take a lot of shots, so there was opportunity to rebound and we challenged the kids to hold them to one shot,” said Leary. “Mass was a force, but we all rebounded well and finished with 52 rebounds. Our defense has been better, but can still improve.”

Last Monday the Patriots defeated Danvers for the second time this season, 56-44. Revere used a smothering, man-to-man defense to keep the Falcons grounded. Joof once again was a double-double performer with 14 points and 10 rebounds and High hit for 18 points and snared seven boards.

Last Wednesday the Patriots engaged in a rematch with archrival Chelsea in a contest that was highlighted by Senior Night festivities before the biggest and most vocal crowd of the season, as had been the case when the teams met earlier this year in Chelsea in a Red Devil victory.

“This was a very emotional game for the team,” said Leary. “The combination of the seniors realizing it was their final game on the Roland Merullo Fieldhouse floor and against cross-town rival Chelsea was tough to overcome early on.”

Chelsea jumped out to a 15-13 lead after one and a 32-26 lead at halftime. Chelsea guard Steven Lacy was on fire with 14 points in the half. “We were just too pumped up and emotional at the start and it led to foul trouble and uncharacteristic mistakes,” noted Leary. “We just wanted to get to the locker room and calm the kids down.”

Chelsea pushed the lead to 38-26 early in the third quarter, but the Patriots had plenty of fight left. Senior center and co-captain Marvin Urdaneta (22 points, eight rebounds) began to impose his will and lead his team in the comeback. Senior guard Gerald Jean-Charles (13 points) hit for seven points in the frame, as Revere overcame the big deficit and moved out to a 44-41 advantage at the end of the third.

The fourth quarter was a grind and the Red Devils would not go away, scoring three straight baskets down the stretch to cut the lead to one. However, High struck for two huge jump shots and sophomore Marcus Brunson-Perez made a heroic, contested three-pointer from the corner to push the lead to four with a minute left.

Senior co-captain Brendan Hayes was all over the court, hauling in nine rebounds, and Urdaneta was able to close the game out with free throws down the stretch.

“We were able to get the team relaxed and refocused at halftime,” said Leary. “It was Senior Night and they refused to lose.  But this is a team game and with our foul trouble, Marcus, our sophomore, really stepped up on defense and held Lacy scoreless in the second half.

“Marvin and Mass Joof were too much for them to handle in the second half around the basket on both ends,” added the coach. “It was just a great night for our team and our seniors.”

That victory brought Revere to the brink of qualifying for the post-season, so the Patriots knew what was on the line Thursday night in Peabody, with a victory assuring them of a .500 record and punching their ticket for a Journey to the tourney.

The Patriots showed no signs of nerves and played with confidence and focus. Leading 17-14 after a quarter and 32-26 at halftime, things were going well and the defense had slowed down a well-balanced Peabody attack.

The Patriots however, got hit with adversity in the third quarter when senior co-captain Urdaneta (10 points, 11 rebounds) had to exit the game with a shoulder injury.

The Revere lead shrunk from nine to two in a flash and a timeout was needed.

“I did not have to say anything,” said Leary. “The team did all the talking and wanted to go out and win the game for Marv.”

Sophomore sharpshooter Scott Montefusco came in and sank a pair of huge three-pointers to stretch the lead to 47-43 at the end of the third. Senior guards Gerald Jean-Charles (nine points, five asists) and Curtis High (18 points, seven rebounds) led the way offensively in the fourth, while Marcus Brunson-Perez played stellar defense on the Tanners’ leading scorer, Matt D’Amato, holding him to just eight points.

With the scoreboard showing a 62-52 Revere victory at the final buzzer, the celebration was on. “This was one of our goals from day one,” said Leary. “The season started off slowly, but it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. These guys believed in themselves and each other. We are so proud of how these guys battle night in and night out but our goals are still ahead of us.”

The Patriots went to Hamilton Wenham High School on Monday and defeated Arlington Catholic in the opening round of the General George Patton Tournament and will face Winchester tonight (Wednesday) in the tourney final.

Leary and his crew then will await word of their seedling and first round opponent in the tourney later this week.

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