Campbell on to quarterfinals in boys basketball tourney

Staff photo by HECTOR LONGO Campbell's Chad Martel soars through air and scores with the left hand. He had 15 points in the playoff win over St. Thomas Thursday night.

LITCHFIELD – They played, from the opening tip, to the final buzzer like a team on a mission. And visiting St. Thomas Aquinas never stood a chance.

“We made the quarterfinals last year,” said Campbell High boys hoop coach Sudi Lett after the Cougars’ 64-50 playoff-opening win over Saints.

“I think we’d be disappointed if we don’t at least get to the final four this time around.”

No. 5 Campbell broke to a 25-12 lead through a quarter and really never seemed stressed in the victory over 12th-seeded St. Thomas.

Jake Scafidi had 20 points in the big night, and both Chad Martel (15) and Jonah Crema (13) were dynamite on both ends.

“You know I nominated both Jonah and Chad for all-state,” said Lett, whose club moved to 15-4 with the victory.

“We’re so balanced as a team, and no kids really stand out (by the numbers), but I’m convinced that both of those guys are two of the best players around.”

You’d hardly get any arguments on Thursday night with Martel’s fearless drives opening up room on the perimeter for Scafidi and others.

Meanwhile, Crema was simply all over the floor, finding loose balls and key rebounds and converting them into instant Cougar offense.

The lead was 40-26 at the half and 55-38 through three quarters, peaking at 49-28 in the third when Scafidi knocked home a wing bomb.

“With all the information out there on the Internet, it’s pretty easy to scout these days,” said Lett. “Our guys knew what they had to do and they were ready. They played as a team.”

The news got even better for Lett with Twitter feeds a popping in the postgame celebration.

Saturday night the Cougars, who thought they would be heading northward to No. 4 Conant in the Division III quarterfinals, will instead be playing host to White Mountains Regional.

The 13th-seeded Spartans stunned Conant, 53-49, in their first-rounder Thursday night, a double overtime affair.