Cheverus High School’s Silvano Ismail proved to be too much against a weakened Hampden Academy team on Friday night as the senior guard led the Stags to a 58-42 victory at Hampden Academy.
Ismail scored 20 points while also notching six rebounds, four blocks and two steals. Ismail got it going early and often on defense, using his long wingspan in passing lanes to block three shots at the rim and one by the 3-point line over the course of the contest.
Hampden (3-4) and Cheverus (5-2) exchanged baskets and it was tied 11-11 with 6:52 left in the second quarter after a turnaround jumper from Hampden’s Landen Garbic.
With 5:20 left in the first half, Ismail stole the ball under the basket and took the ball coast to coast and finished at the rim to give the Stags a 15-12 advantage. Cheverus would never relinquish the lead.
The Broncos were at a disadvantage in the game as Brandon Butterfield, Hampden’s starting point guard and lead distributor, was out of the game after turning his ankle in practice on Wednesday.
“It affected our offensive looks because the ball is in his hands a lot,” Hampden coach Russ Bartlett said. “Zach [McLaughlin] did an admirable job tonight taking it up, I would rather him be receiving the ball but I thought he did a good job trying to do it to the best of his ability. He got us into our offense.”
Cheverus coach Richie Ashley said the team found out about Butterfield’s injury during warmups and never deviated from its game plan.
“During warmups I was looking for him and looking at their starting lineup to see if he was going to play,” Ashley added. “We stuck to our game plan and our two teams mirror each other. We’re up and down and great guard play.”
After scoring seven points in the first quarter, McLaughlin was held to just a 3-pointer at the end of the first half as the Stags added onto their lead. Ismail scored eight points in the same quarter as part of Cheverus’ 17-point period.
Sophomore guard Sammy Nzeyimana also lit up the second quarter scoreboard, splashing in six of his 11 points in the frame.
At halftime, Hampden trailed Cheverus 28-21. McLaughlin got the jumper working in the third quarter and scored nine of his 23 points in the period.
Ismail and McLaughlin traded highlight-reel baskets all game.
Ismail knows he has to play every team’s best player and is prepared for that challenge.
“I kind of just tried to not let him shoot, run him off the 3-point line but he still got some,” Ismail said. “It’s big but I gotta do what I gotta do for our team.”
Ashley had nothing but praise for his star senior guard.
“The question might be what doesn’t he do well,” Ashley said of Ismail. “He scores for us and on the defensive end, the McLaughlin kid is a really good player and Silvano had those two unbelievable, highlight blocks on that side. He rebounds the basketball, he’s 6-foot-1 and weighs 135 pounds and he jumps out of the gym. Great teammate and leader.”
McLaughlin was able to score five quick points early in the third and pull the Broncos within 33-26 with 5:40 left, but Cheverus was too much for Hampden to control.
“I thought we didn’t play with the amount of toughness we needed to,” Bartlett said. “We needed to make it a grind and we didn’t do a great job helping on Ismail that we had worked on. I thought Aiden [Kochendoerfer] did a great job on [Leo] McNabb but Ismail killed us.”
JJ Wolfington, Hampden’s big man, grabbed nine rebounds on the night and in the fourth quarter scored three of his seven points. The junior also had two blocks.
Cheverus was able to hold Hampden to just seven points in the fourth quarter to secure the victory.
“Hampden is really good,” Ashley said. “When they get their point guard back they’ll be dangerous, so it’s a good win for us.”