AGAWAM — On Tuesday night, Cam Vedovelli and the Pope Francis boys’ basketball team got two huge wins.
The Cardinals defeated Agawam 67-50 on the road, and Cam Vedovelli became the first player to score 1,000 points for Pope Francis since the school’s merger between Cathedral and Holyoke Catholic in 2016.
“It feels great,” Cam Vedovelli said about reaching the milestone. “It’s lot of work. Early mornings. Late nights, just the simple things. I’m glad to see it finally paid off.”
Entering the game, Vedovelli was just five points away from eclipsing the millennium mark.With three minutes of the first quarter gone, Cam Vedovelli received a pass in transition, drove right and finished a layup off the glass with an Agawam defender in his face. A loud gymnasium in enemy territory, friends and family in attendance, and just one bucket away from the mark, nerves started to creep in. Vedovelli missed back-to-back 3-point attempts and had two layup attempts blocked.
With the opposing crowd on its feet and chanting in his ear, Vedovelli dribbled the ball past halfcourt. Cool, calm, and collected, Vedovelli pulled up to the line, rose up high and drilled a 3-pointer. Following a timeout, Vedovelli was embraced with applause by his teammates, coaches and fans, and a hug from his mother, father, and brother, Ryan. “There was a little bit of nerves and pressure, but it went away when I first hit the layup and then when I hit the three,” Cam Vedovelli said. “When it happened, it was a sigh of relief and I felt like I played a lot better.”
As the hugs and applause concluded and the stress of scoring his 1000th point faded away, Vedovelli looked and played more comfortably when the game resumed. Pope Francis’ Cam Vedovelli celebrates with his teammates after scoring his 1000th point on Jan. 17th, 2023.
On the second play following the timeout, Ryan Vedovelli grabbed an offensive rebound and kicked it out to Cam Vedovelli, who splashed a triple from the right shoulder and gave his team a nine-point lead at halftime. In the third quarter, Cam Vedovelli found his rhythm and started driving to the hoop. He cut to the basket on three-straight offensive possessions, scoring a basket, picking up a foul and dishing an assist, in that order.
On the third drive, Cam Vedovelli pushed downhill with the ball in his left hand and drew three defenders to him in the paint. Noticing the switch, Vedovelli planted his foot and passed the ball behind him to Pat Flaherty, who pump-faked a 3-point shot before dribbling the ball untouched along the baseline for an easy two points.
“[Cam Vedovelli’s] never afraid of the big shot,” Cardinals coach Justin Dalessio said. “He’s always hungry. He’s always wanting more … But I think the most important thing is he is coachable. He’s a great kid. He comes from a great family, and he’s coachable. He shows up every day to practice, it’s never, ‘I’m hurt,’ or ‘I’m this,’ or ‘I’m that.’”
To cap off the third quarter, TJ Reid threw the ball off the glass on a fast break over a Brownie defender and to Ryan Vedovelli, who tapped in a shot. Jackson Mauer’s corner 3-pointer at the end of the third frame successfully pushed Pope Francis to a 9-0 run and a 55-37 lead.
The Cardinals put forward balanced scoring attack and had four players score in double-digits. Reid finished with a team-high 16 points, Cam Vedovelli had 12 points, and Ryan Vedovelli and Flaherty both had 11-points, each. Even with the big win, Dalessio stressed the importance of staying focused as a unit and persevering through the ebbs and flows the team has endured this season.
“We’ve been a bit up and down,” Dalessio said. “We know we have a good team, we just have to perform every night. Credit to Agawam they made us fight for it, but I’m still looking for us to play four quarters. I’m glad we won and I’m glad Cam Vedovelli got his 1000th point… That’s our goal is to get the win and continue to get better.”
Pope Francis (9-3) has now won four of its last five games as they play Chicopee Comp at home on Friday at 7 p.m.