Whitinsville Christian Wins Tight One Over Watertown 42-36 to Gain State D3 Title

Whitinsville Christian School (2010-11 Boys Division 3 State Champions)

Taylor Bajema (14 points) hit three free throws in the last fourteen seconds to clinch the victory.

(Worcester)  Watertown had Whitinsville Christian right where they wanted them – tied at 30-30 with five minutes left.

The deliberate Raiders had run eight straight points, including a couple of huge 3’s by Cory Donahue (15 points), to tie the taller Crusaders.

Whitinsville (23-2), however, accumulated twelve points in those decisive last five minutes, and came away Massachusetts Division 3 champs, 42-36, on Saturday afternoon at the DCU Center.

The Raiders (19-6) could only score six points in a frustrating ending for the ‘07 and ‘09 state champs.  In their final twelve possessions (covering the last five minutes) Watertown had three turnovers and five missed 3-pointers.

Cory Donahue (15 points on five 3’s)

Marco Coppola (15 points) tallied all six of the Raiders points but in their last four possessions his stat line read: turnover, made layup, missed three, and turnover.

After the 30-30 tie, Colin Richey (12 points) hit a tough floater from the left to give Whitinsville the lead (32-30).  Hans Miersma (12 points) followed with a free throw and Marco added two before Colin set up Hans Miersma (12 points) for a layup making the score, 35-32, with 2:15 left.

That three-point cushion wasn’t much but on this afternoon the Raiders (6-for-35 from long range) couldn’t hit a big one to get closer.

Their next two 3-point attempts missed and they were forced to foul.  Peter Koopman made one free throw and Hans made two putting the Crusader up, 38-32, with 1:27 to go.

Marco followed with two free throws (38-34 – 1:17) before Peter Koopman threw a pass to me and then redeemed himself on the next play by stealing Marco’s pass in the lane.  The Raiders were quick to foul sending Grant Brown to the line.  Grant made one and Marco drove full-court for a layup (39-36 – :17)

Watertown was still just a turnover and a three away but WCS wisely got the ball to Taylor Bajema (14 points) and when he was fouled he made both shots (41-36 – :14).

Marco tried an NBA three and missed and Hans did the same with two free throws with nine seconds left.

Marco then tried to go end-to-end and lost the ball out-of-bounds under the basket. Taylor was again fouled and his last-second free throw ended the scoring at 42-36.

Hans Miersma (12 points) gets off one of his few inside attempts.

WCS had plenty of size and would have loved to have been able to get 6-9 Hans Miersma more touches.  Raider ball pressure made that very difficult.  The Crusaders had twenty-two turnovers, many coming from trying to pass into Raider overplays.

The Raiders were content to run the clock and settle for outside shots.  Those tactics had kept opponents playing more defense than offense in the tournament and had limited every tourney opponent to 40 points or less.

The Crusaders played an unaccustomed (for them) zone and probably wondered why, early on, as Watertown hit three of their first six long-range attempts.  WCS stuck with it though and the Raiders hit on only three of their last twenty-nine tries.

Cory Donahue made five of the six Watertown three’s.

Marco Coppola led the state in scoring (26 ppg).  I recall hearing someone in the pressroom say that he was leaning toward WPI for next season.  He’ll score a lot of points wherever he goes.

Hans Miersma had a dunk after a travel in the first half and did something to the clock above the basket in the process.  I saw the possibilities for one of my life-goals take shape as the basket got lower and lower!

Colin Richey (12 points) faced game-long tight defense from Tyler Romanelli (#5).

Sophomore Colin Richey ended up facing the relentless full-court pressure of Tyler Romanelli as WSC’s primary ball-handler.  Tyler had plenty to do with the Colin’s inability to find Hans in close to the basket very often.

Watertown jumped in front 9-2 after 4 ½ minutes on Cory Donahue’s three 3’s.  WCS rallied back into the start of the second quarter on an old-fashioned three by Hans, a Colin Richey jumper, and two Tyler VandenAkker free throws to tie the score.

Watertown was held scoreless over the last 4:45 of the 2nd quarter while WCS got seven points (Taylor’s layup and jumper, Hans layup, one Colin free throw) to lead, 21-16, at the half.

Watertown came all the way back to tie the game (30-30) in the final quarter.  Thereafter (over the last five minutes) WCS went on the 12-6 run that won the game.

(I collect my own stats and take my own pictures.  I also draw my own conclusions.  Inaccuracies of various degrees happen for which I apologize for.)

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