Cardinal Spellman boys basketball defeats Sandwich in MIAA tournament – Enterprise News

BROCKTON — Thrills and heartbreaks. Mike Perry knows the state tournament is chock-full of both.

Last season, when Lorenzo Jackson hoisted a game-winning 3-pointer to eliminate the Cardinal Spellman High boys basketball team at the buzzer and lift Archbishop Williams into the Division 3 final, Perry’s Cardinals endured arguably the lowest of low points.

All they wanted was another shot. But at the outset of this season, a slew of injuries dragged Cardinal Spellman into a 1-5 tailspin.

That was all put in the past Tuesday night. The No. 28 Cardinals staved off No. 37 Sandwich, 65-43, at home to advance to the Division 3 Round of 32, where they will meet No. 5 Norwell on Thursday at 7:30.

Due to the 1-5 start, Cardinal Spellman had to win four of its final five games to reserve a spot in the tournament field. A 61-33 win over Dover-Sherborn in the regular season finale was enough to boost the Cardinals to the No. 28 seed in the final MIAA power rankings, as the team (9-11) did not get to the 10 wins needed to earn an automatic bid. The top 32, and teams above .500, qualify.

Surely, there was doubt upon the bracket’s release.

“Oh, yeah,” Perry said. “(Dover-Sherborn was) ranked 10th or 11th, and that (win) kind of catapulted us. It really helped us greatly.”

Cardinal Spellman was without three starters due to injury at the beginning of the season — senior center Marvin Petit-Frere (of Brockton), junior swingman Umarei Murray (of West Bridgewater) and senior guard Matt O’Donnell (of Marshfield), who had sat out a few games to recover from a lingering concussion suffered late in the football season. “We were piecemealing and the kids hung in there,” Perry said.

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On the tournament stage Tuesday night, all three were in action.

Petit-Frere tied with senior guard Jay’von DePina for a team-high 15 points, senior D’Anthony Amado finished with 12, O’Donnell had 9 and Murray, in just his second game back, followed with 7.

“Without a doubt, I’m happy for them,” Perry said. “You go to the tournament and win a game — I’ve been doing this a long time, there’s still nothing like the tournament, I don’t care what sport you play.”

“This was our last game (on our home court),” Amado said of the five-man senior class. “It was very important to go out with a win.”

Amado and O’Donnell said the team’s turning point this season came in the second of two matchups against Southeastern, a 67-50 win on Feb. 14, the second-to-last game of the regular season. The Cardinals’ defense recorded eight steals in the first half to secure the win.

That defensive tenacity and attention to detail reappeared Tuesday night vs. Sandwich, as the Cardinals relinquished just five points in the fourth quarter to pull away with the win.

“It mostly starts with our guards – me, Matt and Jay’von,” Amado said. “When (the opponent) is doing dribble hand-offs, we jump everything. We’re scrappy guards. We’re going to get steals, get in your face and play tough. That’s how we play all the time, as Coach Perry taught us.”

The Cardinals’ defense now faces its biggest test, Norwell, a prolific offensive team that cruised through its regular season schedule at a 18-2 pace and suffered its two losses by a combined six points.

But this team has faced adversity once or twice before.

“We knew what we were capable of, even from the beginning of the season,” O’Donnell said. “We just had to put the pieces together.”