Lowell High Puts Another Notch in Belt
LAWRENCE -- Lowell High boys basketball coach Bob Michalczyk has patrolled the Red Raiders’ sidelines long enough to know that any win on the road at neighboring Central Catholic constitutes a very good night.
Friday night was certainly no exception as the No. 4 Red Raiders led the hosts wire-to-wire in front of a capacity crowd at Memorial Gym to take home a tight 76-68 win.
“They’ve been very good for a long time so any time you can win here it’s a good win,” said the Lowell coach. “I don’t think I have ever seen (the MVC) so balanced. Night in and night out it’s a grind.”
Senior forward Justin Villanueva (18 points) led a well-balanced attack for Lowell (11-1) which also got strong games from guards Nate Siow (14), Carlos Nunez (13) and Rashawn Settles (11).
Central Catholic senior standout Kevin Constant hit for a game-high 22, and the hosts (8-3) got a terrific game from Jalen Aquino (19 points, 5 threes) off the bench. George Smith added 16 for No. 11 Central.
Trailing by 14 early in the the third, Central closed to within one twice on a pair of Constant drives, and got to within three with six minutes left to play on Aquino’s fifth trifecta, but Lowell kept its composure and closed things out. Central shot just 4-for-21 in the final stanza.
Lowell led 25-20 after one and used a stifling full court press to open the second quarter, forcing six Central TOs, to go up by as many 15 (36-21), but Central would hang around behind Aquino, who scored seven straight at one point and 10 in the quarter.
After Constant exploded for 11 points in the opening quarter, the combo of Nunez and Deven Okowuga did a nice job of holding the high-flyer, who picked up three fouls in the opening half, scoreless in the second quarter.
“Carlos is one of our best defenders and Deven switched on to him later, but he got into foul trouble and that’s probably the best way to defend him,” said Michalczyk.
Lowell High continues with its tough schedule on Monday afternoon with a home game against BC High.