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Pope Francis Walks West through The Pioneer Valley and the Scoring Runneth Over for Cardinals 62-40

By Kevin McCaskill Jr.

📜John 4:44📜

In the Year of Our Lord 2021,

And FP YR. 4,

FP SPORTS made it to Agawam, Massachusetts.

Agawam HS was hosting Pope Francis*, a Catholic school located in the East Forest Park neighborhood of Springfield, MA.

I watched Pope Francis beat West Side earlier this month. Until Friday, I hadn’t seen Agawam play since 2013.

The game started with Agawam coming out with a flurry of points by Dylan Wesley. Wesley is a Junior this season.

Pope Francis responded quickly and the game remained tight in the 1st and 2nd quarters. Both teams were making plays, on both sides of the ball. Pope Francis gained a slight advantage because of their relentlessness on the offensive “glass”. Agawam had trouble blocking out Pope Francis Forward Adam Sarlan. His activity in the paint got him 9 FTA in the 1st half.

(Adam Sarlan shoots 1 of 9 first half FTs)

(Adam Sarlan shoots another FT in the first half)

The Cardinals were up at halftime 31-28.

The game never got any closer.

The Cardinals created a lot of turnovers in the 3rd quarter. The turnovers and Pope Francis’ half-court defense bogged Agawam’s offense down. While Agawam’s offense was stagnant, Pope Francis offense was 📈. They got easy layups and make-able shots in the lane.

Agawam’s solid start offensively waned in the 3rd and 4th quarter. They missed open shots and they always had a Pope Francis defender close by.

Even though the Cardinals were up big, Pope Francis HC Justin Dalessio didn’t want to take any chances of a miraculous comeback. The Cardinals first possession of the 4th quarter wasn’t going well. With only 40 seconds coming off the clock, Dalessio called a timeout.

(Daijon Davis scopes out the defense)

After the timeout, the Cardinals scored.

Agawam could never string together a series of “scores and stops” and they went down at home tonight 62-40.

(Final from Agawam)

Scorers for Pope Francis:

Adam Sarlan - 26 points

Daijon Davis - 21 points

Cam Vedovelli - 7 points

Shalom Love - 4 points

Rich Roy & Pat Flaherty - 2 points each

(Cam Vedovelli shoots a shot in the lane)

Scorers for Agawam:

Griffen Levesque & Dylan Wesley - 9 points each

Josiah Bass-Collins - 6 points

Jermaine Norfleet Jr. - 4 points

Colin Smith - 3 points

Tommy Arcelaschi, Colin Bronner, Noah Jodoin, Matt Cleavall - 2 points each

Nathan Jodoin - 1 point

I got to speak with both HCs after the game:

🔴Pope Francis HC Dalessio⚫️

🔑🔑 to victory tonight:

“Number one, we had to come out with energy and effort for 32 minutes. That definitely happened. I keep stressing to the kids, ‘defense and rebounding’, so if we can defend and rebound a lot of times for us it leads to some good offense.”

What led to the lead in the 3rd quarter?

“I think just being on the road, and Agawam is a good team, at halftime we really stressed the importance of putting your foot on the was close, so defense and rebounding...we caused a lot of turnovers and off those turnovers, we were able to score.”

Is their a difference between the old Cathedral and Pope Francis?

“There’s a ton of similarities. I’ma Cathedral guy; I played there, I coached there, a lot of great memories there.

...Our new building...the name has changed but we still have great kids, great values. Kids come out and work hard so there’s not a whole lot different other than the name and the colors”.

Is religion a part of the basketball program? (I.e team chaplain)

“We are a Catholic school but we welcome all religions. I think one thing we do well is just stress, ‘being good people’. The kids do take a religion class and they meet with [a Religion teacher] individually”.

🟠Agawam HC Dave Federico🟤

You were close in the 1st half, what happened in the 3rd quarter that let Pope Francis extend their lead?

“They got some easy hoops inside with their big man [Adam Sarlan]; we just couldn’t stop him. He was a force all night. Dribble penetration killed us as well, they got to the basket.

Then offensively, we couldn’t connect. We were throwing the ball all over the place, turning it over way too much. I look up at the scoreboard and all of a sudden we are down double digits. So they established that lead and carried it right into the fourth.”

How does it feel to be back on the sidelines?

“If you asked me six months ago if I thought that we would be playing, I would have probably said, ‘No’. Everybody has come together and put the safety measures in place. We have protocols to follow and I’m just happy to be out there. I’m happy for the kids, especially the Seniors**, they get one final run at it. Its been awesome being back and part of the game.

How many Seniors do you have this season?

I got 2 Seniors. So its good for them to get one final run at it and I'm happy for them.

Who is #4?

"Josiah Bass-Collins. Junior [11th grade]....He's got the athleticism, he's got the talent, he's got the drive. He had a huge game last Tuesday against West Springfield. He propelled us into overtime and then to a victory, so he is definitely somebody to watch come next year."

Some FP SPORTS Player Analysis:

Daijon Davis is a very good player. He has great balance and can always get off the shot he wants. He is active within a team defensive scheme.

Josiah Bass-Collins could be a problem next year. If he can develop his dribbling skills and finish more consistently around the rim, he will have a big year next season.

*Pope Francis replaces Cathedral High School. In June 2011, a tornado 🌪 ripped through the west side and south side of Springfield, MA. Cathedral was damaged beyond repair. After a lengthy decision period by the Archdiocese of Springfield and the Vatican🇻🇦, the decision was made to rebuild an educational institution on the same land as the original Cathedral. The school is named after the current Pope, Francis. 📜John 4:44📜

**The 2 Agawam Seniors are Tommy Arcelaschi and Nathan Jodoin.

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