he murmurs began last night in the lobby of Cabot Gymnasium.
By the time the fans entered, they saw the words were indeed a reality - Central Catholic star Scott Hazelton was perched on the sideline, a cast protecting his fractured left foot.
With the UConn-bound Hazelton on the sidelines, the Red Raiders gave top-ranked Boston English all they could handle before falling, 88-79, in overtime.
``We weren't going to roll over just because Scott wasn't playing,'' said Central Catholic coach Dick Licare. ``We can't not be proud of them with the effort. They really stepped it up.''
The defending state champions forced overtime with the scored tied at 70 when Bill Sherry's layup at the buzzer was ruled goaltending by Boston English's Raheim Lamb.
Incoming-Minuteman Raheim Lamb went off for big numbers.
``We expected a tough game, even without Scott,'' said Lamb, who scored 25 of his points after the first half. ``They're the state champions, something we would like to do this year.''
Licare didn't find out he was going to be without his all-everything performer until early yesterday morning. Hazelton originally suffered the injury on Tuesday night against Tewksbury.
Hazelton played against Andover on Friday, scored 19 points in a crucial 73-58 win, but was limping noticeably throughout. He went to the doctors on Saturday morning where he found out he would be out for five weeks.
Boston English jumped to an early 10-1 lead, thanks to a 3-point basket by junior Jason Smith (four treys in the half, 24 points overall) and a conventional three-point play by the UMass-bound Lamb.
Central Catholic settled down and gradually worked its way back into the game. A tip-in and a layup by senior forward Matt Kobelski deadlocked the game at 19 with 5:50 left in the half.
The Bulldogs regained the lead at 24-21 on a Smith trifecta from the vicinity of Huntington Avenue. Another 3-pointer by Smith allowed Boston English to leave the floor with a 29-25 lead at halftime.
There were five lead changes in the second half as neither team could take control. Central Catholic got huge efforts from Erik Hall (16 points) and Kobelski (17 points). A layup by Kobelski gave the visitors a 56-53 lead with 5:28 left.
English rallied, going on a 13-3 run to take a 66-59 lead with 2:10 left, a Lamb three-point play capping off the run. But Central Catholic hung tough as Kobelski had a layup and a three-point play to even the score at 68 with 1:08 left.