2014 City-Catholic Challenge recap

BOSTON – The first City-Catholic Challenge is in the books. The three-game slate saw many of the best players in the Boston City League, Catholic Central and Catholic Conference take to the court at UMass-Boston. It started with a close game that came down to the final buzzer, before two blowouts followed.

In the first game, the Catholic Central Small team held on at the end to beat the Boston City League South 54-53 in a game that was close throughout. The Boston City South had several chances in the final seconds, but couldn’t cash any of them in.

Mustafa Koroma (6’2″ Sr. F, Lowell Catholic) led the winners with 16 points. The athletic forward has a good motor and was in a lot of plays, often scoring his points from being in the play. Khaneil Bruce (6’4″ Sr. F, Medford (MA) Saint Clement), who has three CAA football offers, showed off his athleticism and ability to finish with the left hand en route to a 10-point effort. Teammate Eamonn Joyce (6’7″ Jr. C, Medford (MA) Saint Clement) added 12 points and blocked or challenged a number of shots. He has a good frame and still a good deal of potential he hasn’t yet tapped into.

Dorchester's Khalil Newson had a game-high 24 points in the second game of the City-Catholic Challenge (Billy Owens photo)

Dorchester’s Khalil Newson had a game-high 24 points in the second game of the City-Catholic Challenge (Billy Owens photo)

Kareem Murrell (5’10” Sr. G, Boston (MA) Snowden HS) had 14 points in the losing effort. He had a couple of steals and layups along the way, showing he can finish with the left hand. He also beat the buzzer with a layup at the end of the third that gave his team the lead. Jikhalil Smith (6’7″ Jr. F, Dorchester (MA) Jeremiah Burke HS) is the best “potential” player who played in the game, as he’s very long and a baby physically, and he’s also relatively new to the game. He runs the floor well but will need to work on the skill package, especially if he is to play the wing. Patrick Mansuy (6’2″ Sr. F, Boston (MA) Fenway HS) will grab attention with his body, which is big although not all of it is good weight, but he showed he can hit from long range and he moves it well.

The second game was a game of runs, but it was the Boston City League Central team that had more of them. They opened by scoring the game’s first 12 points, before the Catholic Central Large battled back and eventually got within two. When Khalil Newson (6’1″ Sr. G, Dorchester (MA) High) hit a three-pointer from just past midcourt at the halftime buzzer, that may have reversed the momentum permanently as that made it a five-point game at the break. The Boston City Central team blew the game open in the third and then the fourth quarter en route to a 102-78 victory.

Newson finished with a game-high 24 points. He scored on drives, hitting jumpers and on stickbacks, and continues a good finish to his high school career. Rayshawn Miller (Jr. G, Boston Latin Academy) added 17 points, including three three-pointers, and he continues to be emerging from under the radar. Next year he should be one of the best guards in the city. Ben Lawler (6’5″ Sr. F, Roxbury (MA) John D. O’Bryant HS) added 14 points, showing a good overall skill set although his shots were not falling from long range and at times he faded away on his jumper a bit much. School teammate Joseph Farrell (6’4″ Sr. SF) scored eight points but also impressed as he has a good body and is very athletic. Tavon Smallpiece (6’2″ Sr. F, Dorchester (MA) High) added ten points and got a few of the college coaches in attendance interested.

The Catholic Central Large was led by 18 points from recent Suffolk commit Matt Costello (6’2″ Sr. F, Bishop Fenwick HS). Though he lacks athleticism, Costello has a nice feel for the game and can be a good glue guy at the next level. Ryan Roach (5’11” Sr. G, Brockton (MA) Cardinal Spellman) showed his excellent passing ability, as he was able to drive and dish often to get teammates layups. Roach’s school teammate Rory Donovan (6’6″ Sr. F) had a nice outing with 13 points, a total that was matched by Curtis Lockett (Jr. G, Lynn (MA) St. Mary’s). Lockett opened some eyes with his athleticism, and Donell Berryman (6’1″ So. G, Cathedral HS) showed that he will be worth watching over the next couple of years, as the lefty wing scored eight points with two three-pointers and was the only sophomore in the game.

Freddy Oliveira scored 14 points in the City-Catholic Challenge (Billy Owens photo)

Freddy Oliveira scored 14 points in the City-Catholic Challenge (Billy Owens photo)

The final game of the day was close on a couple of occasions, but the Boston City League North broke the game open in the third quarter and then further pulled away with a big run to start the fourth en route to a 93-75 win over the Catholic Conference.

There was plenty of talent in the last game, and among the most noticeable were Charlestown teammates Taris Wilson (6’3″ Sr. G) and Freddy Oliveira (6’5″ Sr. F). Wilson looked like the player who led the city in scoring as a junior, tallying 16 points with an array of mid-range jumpers and driving finishes, including a couple of dunks. Oliveria added 14 points, as the lefty hit a tough baseline jumper and got a couple of good finishes inside as well.

Just as valuable was Mark Mojica (6’0″ Sr. G, Brighton (MA) High), who actually led the way with 18 points, including four three-pointers. It’s easy for him to get lost amidst the younger talent on his school team this year, but on Saturday he showed that he has good potential. His body can mature more and he’s still very new to the game, having not played it until coming from Puerto Rico a couple of years ago, so there’s more potential waiting to be untapped with him.

Mojica’s school teammate, Jason Jones (6’5″ Jr. F), had 13 points in a fine outing. He has a good body and ran the floor well all day, finishing with contact a couple of times. He looks like he’s starting to tap into his potential, and he hopes to continue that this spring.

The Catholic Conference was led by 13 points apiece from Max Butterbrodt (6’4″ Sr. F-C, Danvers (MA) St. John’s Prep) and Brandon Twitty (6’1″ So. G, West Roxbury (MA) Catholic Memorial HS) added 13 points. One of the youngest players in the game, Twitty may also have as much upside as anyone who played on the day as he has plenty of scoring tools and his body has a ways to go. School teammate Guilien Smith (6’1″ Jr. G) was one of three players who scored nine points and can do several things to help a team. Max Burt (6’0″ Sr. G, Danvers (MA) St. John’s Prep) and Tim Riley (6’2″ Jr. G-F, Westwood (MA) Xaverian HS) also added nine points apiece.

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