Catholic Memorial runs and guns its way to No. 1

The dimly lit Ronald Perry Gymnasium on Catholic Memorial’s West Roxbury campus is nothing to brag about. Its court is blandly painted and the bleachers engulfing it creak with each spectator’s step. The scoreboard is certainly not state-of-the art, either, but it gets the job done: tallying up the No. 1 Knights’ many points. Catholic Memorial (12-1) leads Eastern Massachusetts in scoring, averaging 86.0 points per game.

The Knights score by pushing the tempo to a frenetic pace and launching plenty of 3-pointers, to the point where coach Denis Tobin was disappointed by his team’s 79-point performance against Xaverian Friday evening.

“It’s our third-lowest total this year,” Tobin said. By comparison, No. 18 St. Clement, the No. 2 scoring team in the region, averages 74.5 points.

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Catholic Memorial’s offense utilizes a deep roster full of athletic shooters surrounding 6-foot-8-inch senior center Gerard Adams. And whether it’s senior captains Guilien Smith or Kevin Claflin, or even sophomore guard Kellan Grady, the Knights feel confident every 3-pointer will rip through the nets.

“It’s the style I like to coach,” Tobin said. “This year, I’m lucky I have a team whose talents are geared toward the way I like to coach and play. As a player, I always liked to run and shoot, and that’s what these guys like to do, too.”

Claflin benefited from Tobin’s 10-player deep, run-and-gun style on Friday, leading the Knights with 19 points in the victory that pushed CM to the Globe’s No. 1 ranking, following now-No. 7 Mansfield’s loss to Attleboro last week.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Claflin said after the game. “Our team especially, we’re very unselfish. We love playing together. It doesn’t matter who scores the points, we run up and down and we’re going to give the ball to the open guy no matter who it is. It’s a blast every night we come out.”

Junior guard Aamahne Santos adds another dimension to the offense. His combination of speed and ballhandling allows him to dart through defenses and then finish at the rim or kick the ball out to an awaiting marksman.

“Coach just gave me the green light in the beginning of the year and I just try to create for my team and do what it takes to win,” Santos said.

Following each CM basket, the Knights set up their full-court, matchup press, anchored by Adams as the back line of defense, barking instructions to the blitzing guards. Tobin has his players pressure from end line to end line, forcing turnovers in the blink of an eye and stressing opposing coaches and players with his whirlwind of athletic players.

“Evander Holyfield used to say ‘pressure bursts pipes,’ and that’s our team’s philosophy this year,” Tobin said. “We’re going to pressure you defensively the whole length of the court and we’re going to pressure you once you get the ball and make you have to sprint back as hard as you can.”

The Knights will have the opportunity to defend their No. 1 ranking Friday when they visit No. 8 St. John’s Prep.

James transfers to Missouri State U – West Plains

Malik James, the 6-1 junior point guard who led Brighton to the Division 2 state title last season, has transferred to Missouri State-West Plains after initially transferring to Notre Dame Prep for this season. James, a 1,000-point scorer at Brighton, was named a Massachusetts McDonald’s All-America nominee earlier this month.

Benzan sets Roxbury Latin’s all-time scoring mark

Senior guard Pat Benzan scored 36 points and added 8 assists and 8 rebounds in a losing effort to the Middlesex School on Wednesday. The performance pushed Benzan to 1,564 points, topping Remy Cofield’s school mark of 1,549 set in 2007. Benzan also holds the Roxbury Latin assists record with more than 400.