Let the March Madness begin.
Not since 1981 have the Red Raiders repeated as league champions, but with today's Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association release of the sectional brackets, the road to the TD Boston Garden will be a long one.
Coached by Red Raider Hall of Famer Gerry McDowell (108-73), this winter's 16-4 Red & White squad has been seeded ninth in the Division 1 South Sectional bracket. In all likelihood, Barnstable will not get a home-court advantage as it is slated to face perennial powerhouse Catholic Memorial (16-3) on Thursday, March 1 at 7:00 pm. The site has yet to be determined.
The seedings are as follows: 1. Brockton; 2. Madison Park; 3. Weymouth; 4. North Quincy; 5. Newton North; 6. Franklin; 7. Taunton; 8. Catholic Memorial; 9. Barnstable; 10. Needham; 11. BC High; 12. Marshfield; 13. New Bedford; 14. Mansfield; 15. Natick; 16. Plymouth South; 17. West Roxbury.
The front court trifecta of senior captain Charlie Rice, power forward junior Nick Peabody and junior forward Jason Eddy promises to give any opponent a run for their money, but the Red Raiders will likely have to count on defensive strength in order to advance in the postseason, with most opponents boasting combinations of speed and height.
Rice, Eddy and Peabody finished the regular season as the team's high scorers, while Travis Kendrew, Everett Walsh, Dylan Morris and Justin Alvaran all averaged about five points per game. Rice, Peabody, Eddy and Walsh were the team's top rebounders throughout the season while point man Jake Kipnes led the squad in assists and was tied for the team lead in steals along with Rice and Eddy while Peabody and Walsh followed behind. Morris, whose stock rose considerably as the season progressed, also finished as one of the team leaders in points scored and rebounds.
Rice, Walsh, Kendrew, Alvaran and Kipnes are the return varsity players who garnered postseason experience in last year's first round loss to New Bedford.
If any statistic will factor into Barnstable's success or failure this postseason, it may be Barnstable field goal and free throw percentages. If Barnstable can get to the line and make its charity shots, it will stand a chance even when faced with a height disadvantage.
Catholic Memorial is a four-time Sectionals winner, two-time EMass champions and one-time state champs (2008). Barnstable won the Class C State Championship in McDowell's junior year in 1970-71. In what appeared to be the Bay State high school game of the year this winter, Catholic Memorial fell to Brockton last week, 87-88, while BHS tuned up with victories over Mashpee and South Boston High School. The Red Raiders are averaging 62.4 points per game this season, while Catholic Memorial is averaging 79.16 points per game.