Monthly Archives: March 2014

Duxbury downs Charlton 40-33 with strong final quarter

Julia Dandridge of Charlton gets in among the Duxbury shot blockers

Julia Dandridge of Charlton gets in among the Duxbury shot blockers

Bailey Savage (13 points) tries to get by Jordan Ulathorne

Bailey Savage (13 points) tries to get by Jordan Ulathorne

(Foxboro MA) Duxbury broke open a tight game with Charlton in the fourth quarter and defeated the Wildcats, 40-33, in the opening round of the 5th Annual Massachusetts State Tournament at Mass Premier Courts in Foxboro on Saturday morning.

This Division 2 eighth grade girls’ game was tied eight times including 29-29 with 5:25 left but thereafter it was all Duxbury.  The Dragons (9-3 in the South Shore Girls Basketball League) put seven straight points together over the next 3+ minutes and the Wildcats couldn’t recover.

In the separation segment the Dragons had points from Olivia Duvall (free throw), Nicole Callender (layup), Emily DeMerrit (jump shot), and Molly Norton (runner in the lane).

Charlton (13-0 in the South Central Massachusetts Youth Basketball League) spent most of the first three quarters ahead or tied.  Two baskets by Jaime Woods in the last minute of the third quarter gave the Wildcats their biggest lead (27-22) of the game.

But in the final quarter Charlton’s lead vanished as Duxbury, which had scored twenty-two points through three quarters, erupted for eighteen points in the last period.

Nicole Callender gets in for two in the 4th quarter

Nicole Callender gets in for two in the 4th quarter

While Charlton started the decisive quarter with four turnovers, Duxbury started to find room inside getting two layups by Allie Cavallo, and another by Nicole Callender, in a seven-point run.  That combination of miscues and points put Duxbury on top, 29-27, with 5:41 left.

Bailey Savage (13 points) of Charlton temporarily stopped the bleeding with a driving layup to tie the score but Duxbury controlled the last five minutes to get the win.

Molly Norton (15 points) led all scorers.  Molly had plenty of rebounds and blocked several of Charlton’s layup attempts.

Charlton lost out in their league tournament to Marlboro in the championship game.

Duxbury went out in their league tourney to Rockland in the second round.

Katie Dodos reaches in on Olivia Duvall

Katie Dodos reaches in on Olivia Duvall

Both Charlton and Duxbury played tight defense throughout.  There were very few open shots or open lanes to the basket.

The turnovers were plentiful.  Some of it had to do with the referees, “letting the girls play.”  Charlton had twenty-eight turnovers (by my unofficial count) in thirty-two minutes of play while Duxbury had nineteen.

Almost all of the turnovers were on bad passing decisions.

Another very telling stat was free throws.  Again I’m reporting unofficially.  Bailey Savage made the first free throw attempt by Charlton.  The ten after that?  All missed.  Duxbury was a little better connecting on six-of-nineteen attempts.  The Dragons did allow the Wildcats to hang around longer than they should have by making only one of their last nine attempts including the front end of two one-and-one’s.

Molly Norton in heavy Charlton traffic

Molly Norton in heavy Charlton traffic

All those negatives aside, I enjoyed the game.  I admire the commitment the girls (and their families) make to basketball.  Playing a 10AM game that you have to travel to on a (for the rest of the kids their age), sleep-in Saturday is commitment.

My understanding is that this tournament at Mass Premier Courts, which finishes on Sunday, is the end of the league season.  Now the AAU season starts for some of the girls.

The Mass Premier Courts facility was impressive.  There are six regulation-sized courts with very good lighting.  On this Saturday morning there were games happening on every court.  I was distracted by the whistles and horns from other games but those distractions (for me) didn’t seem to bother any of the girls in the Duxbury/Charlton game.

MPC also had plenty of parking as well as several rows of seating on one side of each court.  Nice place!

I created a boxscore for the game.  I would hesitate to wager anything on its accuracy……but it does give you an idea of where the points came from.

(All of the pictures above and below enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Julia Dandridge shoots from the right

Julia Dandridge shoots from the right

tie up

tie up

Molly Norton (#5) led all scorers with 15 points.

Molly Norton (#5) led all scorers with 15 points.

loose ball

loose ball

Jaime Woods (10 points) gets two

Jaime Woods (10 points) gets two

Bailey Savage heads to the hoop in the 2nd quarter

Bailey Savage heads to the hoop in the 2nd quarter

Sophia Sciarappa drives on Jordan Armstrong

Sophia Sciarappa drives on Jordan Armstrong

scramble on the floor

scramble on the floor

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Filed under 5th Annual Massachusetts State Tournament

Londonderry stuns undefeated Bedford in D1 title game 57-56

Celebrating begins for the D1 champion Londonderry Lancers

Celebrating begins for the D1 champion Londonderry Lancers

Londonderry coach John Fagula retires with 12th state championship

Londonderry coach John Fagula retires with 12th state championship

(Hooksett NH) What a finish!

Junior Brittany Roche broke a tie with a clutch three for Londonderry with twelve seconds left and the Lancers upset Bedford, 57-56, to take the Division 1 title at SNHU on Sunday night.

The win sends LHS coach John Fagula into retirement with his twelfth state title.  John had won the previous eleven titles coaching Nashua.

Gatorade’s NH Player-of-the-Year Aliza Simpson finishes a winner and will be off to UNH in the fall.  Aliza had sixteen points to lead all scorers as well as six assists.

The loss ends a 39-game win streak for Bedford the defending D1 state champs.

The ending of this year’s D1 championship finals will be hard to forget for anyone who was part of the full house at SNHU.

The Bulldogs (21-1) took a five-point lead (54-49) into the final 2:49 of the game.  But in a minute the Lancers drew even with an old-fashioned three (Jackie Luckhardt) and a jump shot (Aliza Simpson).

Finals seconds as Aliza Simpson dribbles.  Note Brittany Roche in left corner

Finals seconds as Aliza Simpson dribbles. Note Brittany Roche in left corner

On Bedford’s next possession, Aliza Simpson tracked down a loose ball in the corner and called a timeout.

With no shot clock, Londonderry (19-3) had plenty of options with 1:20 left.  They opted to run the clock and look for something with very little time left.

At that point I would have bet the store that Aliza would get the final shot on some sort of drive toward the basket.  And that may have been Londonderry’s plan.

Brittany Roche

Brittany Roche

What actually happened was very surprising.  With close to fifteen seconds left sophomore Jackie Luckhardt drove in from the right toward the basket.  I thought at the time that it was way too early for a shot to be taken.  Jackie, however, did not shoot but instead drove under the basket and tossed a bounce pass to junior Brittany Roche in the left corner.  Brittany, called “Big Shot” by her coach and teammates, was wide open and nailed a truly big shot with twelve seconds left giving Londonderry a 3-point lead.

Plenty of time for Bedford to get those three points back and they had at least two timeouts left.  McKenzie Brown misfired on their first 3-point attempt but Bedford maintained possession.  After a timeout Brianna Purcell attempted to tie the game with a second three.  That try was short and Nicole Tucci put in a 2-point rebound at the buzzer.  The Bulldogs still trailed by one, 57-56, and Londonderry’s celebrating began.

Bedford’s biggest lead was six (35-29) while Londonderry’s biggest lead was seven (26-19 & 29-22).

The Lancers made the first attempt to separate getting nine straight late in the second quarter to turn a 19-17 Bulldogs lead into a 26-19 deficit with a minute left.  Aliza Simpson had a three (off the backboard) and a jump shot during this run while Brittany Roche had a jump shot and Tara Burke added a layup.

McKenzie Brown gets a rebound

McKenzie Brown gets a rebound

Bedford’s best collection of offense was in the third quarter.  During 4+ minutes the Bulldogs turned a 29-22 deficit into a 35-29 lead with thirteen unanswered points.  McKenzie Brown converted two rebounds, Brianna Purcell had a three and a driving layup, Ali Glennon added an old-fashioned three, and Haley Driscoll made a free throw.

As the points in the 13-point run continued to roll up for Bedford, I thought the Bulldogs were on their way to taking total control, but it didn’t happen.  Casey Evans stopped the bleeding for the Lancers with an old-fashioned three and Elizabeth Caron hit a jump shot putting Londonderry right back in it.

There were three ties and three lead changes in the last quarter in a game that’s outcome was in doubt until the end.

The loss took the luster off of terrific games by Bedford’s seniors McKenzie Brown and Ali Glennon.  McKenzie contributed a double/double (13 points/12 rebounds).  Ali added eleven points.

Ali Glennon and Aliza Simpson

Ali Glennon and Aliza Simpson

Brianna Purcell started out guarding Aliza Simpson but two quick fouls later it was Ali’s turn to defend Aliza.  I thought Ali did a great job of hounding Aliza everywhere she went.  Anyone taking pictures of Aliza with the ball is sure to have Ali somewhere in the picture.  Aliza did end up with sixteen points but it took her fifteen shots to get there because of the defense she faced.

Jackie Luckhardt of Londonderry led everyone with seven assists and none bigger than the one that set up Brittany Roche for what became the game-winning three.

The killer stat for Bedford was free throws.  They missed eleven of them (17-for-28) and one was the front end of a one-and-one.

Aliza Simpson with D1 trophy

Aliza Simpson with D1 trophy

Aliza Simpson missed eight games and all three of the Lancers’ losses including a 50-36 one to Bedford.

Bedford won easily over Keene, Trinity, and Nashua North to reach the D1 finals.  Londonderry had a tight one with Pinkerton Academy (42-38) in the D1 semis.

Great crowd with plenty of cheering and chanting from both sides.

Hats off to the SNHU security for completely preventing the dangerous end-of-game student rush onto the court.

Thanks to the SNHU staff for providing me with half-time and full-game stats.  Lessens the guesswork.

Full-game stats

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Bedford coach Sue Thomas

Bedford coach Sue Thomas

Aliza Simpson tries to get free

Aliza Simpson tries to get free

McKenzie Brown shoots a late three over Casey Evans

McKenzie Brown shoots a late three over Casey Evans

Aliza Simpson attracts three defenders

Aliza Simpson attracts three defenders

battle for the ball

battle for the ball

rebound battle

rebound battle

Jackie Luckhardt (10 points) drives on Haley Driscoll

Jackie Luckhardt (10 points) drives on Haley Driscoll

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Cardinal Spellman takes D3 state title defeating Tyngsboro 61-51

Cardinal Spellman players celebrate D3 state title

Cardinal Spellman players celebrate D3 state title

Ryan Roach dribbles out the clock

Ryan Roach dribbles out the clock

(Worcester MA) Cardinal Spellman 61, Tyngsboro 51.

I know it’s illogical but this wasn’t a ten-point game.  Anyone viewing at the DCU will tell you that.

Tyngsboro trailed by eleven (53-42) with four minutes left but put together a streak of eight straight (two layups Austin Coene/ four free throws Drew Hurynowicz) to get within one possession (53-50) with 2:13 remaining.

This was anyone’s game with the Division 3 title going to the winner.

The game turned in the Cardinals favor on one play.  The undersized Tigers (tallest player 6-1) were victimized by a perfectly executed lob-and-dunk (Ryan Roach to Rory Donovan) that stopped Tyngsboro’s run and set the CS crowd into a frenzy.

Ryan Roach (14 points) hits a last-minute runner in the lane

Ryan Roach (14 points) hits a last-minute runner in the lane

Now up by five (55-50), the Cardinals (22-4) would add to their lead when Ryan Roach hit a runner in the lane with 1:04 left.

Austin Coene missed twice and after each miss the ball ended up in Austin Joseph’s hands and he was fouled.

The CS senior connected four straight times in ten seconds to restore the eleven-point edge (61-50) with thirty-five seconds left.  David Walker made a free throw with eleven second remaining to close out the scoring.

The hero of the day?  I haven’t even mentioned him yet: Collin Sullivan.

Collin Sullivan (four 3-pointers)

Collin Sullivan (four 3-pointers)

In the state semifinals, Collin played 2+ minutes with no shots.  In this game, the 6-2 sophomore was pressed into action in the first half after Brian Donohoe and Joey Crane got into foul trouble.

Before the game was over Collin had connected from long range four times giving the Cardinals twelve unexpected points.

Coach Michael Perry did say afterward that he thought going in that Collin might have a chance against Tyngsboro’s zone defense.  Coach Perry added that Collin wasn’t afraid to shoot.

Collin swished two of those 3’s during the Cardinals 16-1 run that lifted them from a 25-22 deficit (3:46 second period) to a 38-26 lead (5:16 third period).

Cardinal Spellman never gave back the lead after that although things got real tight leading up to the final two minutes.

Ryan Roach (3), Brian Donohoe (4), and Rory Donovan (3) added the other points in the separating 16-1 segment.

Drew Hurynowicz (24 points)

Drew Hurynowicz (24 points)

Sophomore Drew Hurynowicz (24 points) and junior Austin Coene (18 points) carried the Tyngsboro offense.  Both of them had the knack of getting to the basket.  Drew had fourteen points in the first half including consecutive three’s in the first quarter that put the Tigers in front, 12-9.

Ryan Roach topped the Cardinals in scoring with fourteen points.

Cardinal Spellman clicked from long distance eight times.  Collin had four, Ryan two, and Austin Joseph & Joey Crane one each.

Tough game for Joey Crane.  The senior had twenty points in the Watertown win but was a foul magnet in this one.

The Tigers (23-3) had won eleven straight.

I was very impressed with Tyngsboro’s zone defense.  They shifted quickly and forced CS to the perimeter most of the time.

Austin Coene (18 points) goes between Ryan Roach and Joey Crane

Austin Coene (18 points) goes between Ryan Roach and Joey Crane

One stat that will haunt the Tigers for a while was their free throw shooting……….16-for-24.

Tyngsboro represented the Central Division.  The Central has won the D3 state title only eleven times since the tournament started 52 years ago.  Whitinsville Christian was the most recent in 2011.  Crusaders coach Jeff Bajema and his son Taylor, who starred for that team, took in the Cardinal Spellman/Tyngsboro game.

My eyes are old but I swear that in the last minute I saw Ryan Roach dribble through a Tyngsboro players legs to get by him in the backcourt.

Cardinal Spellman box

Tyngsboro box

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Austin Coene (18 points)

Austin Coene (18 points)

Rory Donovan (11 points) gets inside for two

Rory Donovan (11 points) gets inside for two

Austin Joseph (4 free throws in last minute)

Austin Joseph (4 free throws in last minute)

Drew Hurynowicz, Ben Foley, David Walker, Austin Coene, Jake Keenan

Drew Hurynowicz, Ben Foley, David Walker, Austin Coene, Jake Keenan

Joey Crane gets fifth foul

Joey Crane gets fifth foul

reaching for a rebound

reaching for a rebound

Drew Hurynowicz leads a break

Drew Hurynowicz leads a break

Brian Donohoe

Brian Donohoe

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St. Mary’s routs Hoosac Valley 74-36 to take Division 3 state title

Brianna Rudolph, Jennie Mucciarone, and Sharell Sanders with D3 state title trophy

Brianna Rudolph, Jennie Mucciarone, and Sharell Sanders with D3 state title trophy

(Worcester MA) Hoosac Valley’s plan was to use their speed, force turnovers and make three’s.

Those three had carried the Hurricanes to a 23-win season.

Then along came St. Mary’s in the Division 3 state finals on Saturday morning at the DCU Center in Worcester.

Brianna Rudolph, Sharell Sanders, and Jennie Mucciarone on the break

Brianna Rudolph, Sharell Sanders, and Jennie Mucciarone on the break

Nothing worked for the team from Cheshire and they were buried by the Spartans from Lynn, 74-36, ending a seventeen-game winning streak.

Brianna Rudolph starts to drive

Brianna Rudolph starts to drive

Before the game I had a chat with someone who hadn’t seen St. Mary’s play.  I told them that I doubted that Hoosac Valley had faced a player like Brianna Rudolph.  (I had seen Brianna carry St. Mary’s past Archbishop Williams, 47-45, in the D3 state semi-finals.)

It didn’t take Brianna (Division 1 UMass Lowell commit) long to prove my point.  The Spartans broke away from the Hurricanes in the first three minutes with Brianna (26 points) tallying eight straight – three layups and a jump shot.

That run in the first period gave St. Mary’s (24-2) their initial separation and there was no looking back.

Jen Gale eyes the hoop

Jen Gale eyes the hoop

The ‘Canes were able to stem the tide a couple of times but the lead kept growing.

The Spartans, winners of nine straight, had point runs of: eight, ten, thirteen, eight, and nine.

The only run that the Lady Canes from the Berkshire Country League put together was eight, late in the final quarter.  Three’s by freshman Kailynne Frederick and Maddie Ryan keyed those consecutive points.  Those were the only 3’s Hoosac Valley would get.

This game went from “still undecided” to “out-of-reach,” four minutes into the second half.  During a five minute stretch, starting with a minute left in the second quarter, St. Mary’s outscored the Lady Canes, 21-2, on their way to a 53-19 advantage with twelve minutes of playing time left.

Gianna Moschella (14 points) looks for a rebound along side #22 Maddie Ryan

Gianna Moschella (14 points) looks for a rebound along side #22 Maddie Ryan

Jennie Mucciarone had a layup and three assists in the big run.  Reserve Gianna Moschella added an old-fashioned three and two layups.

Softball has a mercy rule and I couldn’t help thinking that the need for those final twelve minutes to be played (with a team down 34) didn’t seem necessary.  But it was played and St. Mary’s won, 74-36.

It was obvious early on that HV was not going to be able to force the Spartans into turnovers that would lead to quick baskets.  Too many good passers and dribblers on the St. Mary’s team.

Unable to turn pressure into scores the Lady Canes fell back into a half-court defense that had no answers for the take-it-to-the-basket Spartans.

Senior Sharell Sanders ended up with thirteen points including eleven in the first half.  The terrific point guard will be playing for Division 2 Caldwell College (New Jersey) next season.

Sharell Sanders (13 points) finds a direct route to the basket

Sharell Sanders (13 points) finds a direct route to the basket

Another Spartans senior, Jennie Mucciarone sat out the second period with three fouls but was big in St. Mary’s pull away in the second half.  Jennie will play at Division 3 Tufts next season.

Brianna Rudolph (26 points) ended her Spartans career in wonderful fashion.  She was part of a man-to-man defense that had HV going east-to-west in the front court most of the game.  Brianna will be at UMass Lowell in the fall.

Sophomores Kayla Carter (10 points) and Gianna Moschella (14 points) would suggest that the well is far from dry at St. Mary’s.

Maddie Ryan paced Hoosac Valley with ten points.

There was never a lack of effort on HV’s part.  They finish 23-2.

St. Mary’s boxscore

Hoosac Valley’s boxscore

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

McKenzie Robinson

McKenzie Robinson

Spartans coach Jeff Newhall with Brianna Rudolph afterwards

Spartans coach Jeff Newhall with Brianna Rudolph afterwards

team picture afterwards

team picture afterwards

Fallon Field drives on Sophia Holmes

Fallon Field drives on Sophia Holmes

Sharell Sanders

Sharell Sanders

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Filed under Hoosac Valley, St. Mary's

Brianna Rudolph brilliant in St. Mary’s 47-45 win over Archbishop Williams – Hoosac Valley next in D3 title game

Sharell Sanders gets open in the lane for game winner after pass from Brianna Rudolph

Sharell Sanders gets open in the lane for game winner after pass from Brianna Rudolph

Jennie Mucciarone signals the win as Brianna Rudolph (31 points) dribbles out the clock.

Jennie Mucciarone signals the win as Brianna Rudolph (31 points) dribbles out the clock.

(Amesbury MA)  St. Mary’s 47, Archbishop Williams 45.

Quite a remarkable game.  I saw the end of it and took some pictures of the excitement.

Anyone who saw that game on Tuesday afternoon at the TD Garden will use two words to explain how St. Mary’s won: Brianna Rudolph.

The MIAA may have had Brianna’s name wrong in the program (“Nicole,”) but both teams were keenly aware of her.  I never saw a Spartans’ possession in the frontcourt where the ball wasn’t in her hands.  For the Archies, every Brianna free-throw attempt was an opportunity to swing into the Christmas spirit with a student-section rendition of “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

Brianna Rudolph took thirty shots including this tough one in traffic

Brianna Rudolph took thirty shots including this tough one in traffic

The second-half numbers clearly reveal the impact Brianna had in getting St. Mary’s a Division 3 state semifinals win.  The Spartans’ senior was directly responsible for twenty-three of St. Mary’s twenty-seven second half points.  After Brianna reached nineteen points in the second half she then assisted on the tying basket (Kayla Carter) and the winning basket (Sharell Sanders) late in the game.

Brianna (UMass Lowell commit) did finish with thirty-one points but those last two assists were more important to the final score than any of the points.

The entire early run of stories about the St. Mary’s/Archbishop Williams game missed the significant point that Alana Gilmer was defending Brianna.

The last two games I saw the Archies play were in last year’s D3 state semifinals and finals.  Alana put up points but it was her defense that paved the way for AW wins over Pentucket and Lee.

Alana Gilmer had six blocks including this one on Brianna Rudolph

Alana Gilmer had six blocks including this one on Brianna Rudolph

Against Pentucket (state semifinals), 6-foot Alana limited Coley Viselli to three points.  Against Lee (state finals) Alana held Stephanie Young also to three points.  Both of those talented seniors were 1000-point scorers who had shot over and driven around many previous defenders.  But not Alana.  She is tall enough to make the 3-point shot less wide open and fast enough to keep contact on a drive.  She is very good at blocking shots and got Brianna several times.

Anyhow, my point in that this was no random defender on Brianna.  But she got thirty-one points.  How?  Speed and a quick jump shot off the dribble.

That jump shot allows a shorter player to be into the jump shot before the taller defender is set to block the attempt.  Brianna used that jump shot to get open several times against Alana who is four inches taller.

The Archies did a terrific job against the Spartans’ 1000-point scorer Jennie Mucciarone.  A very helpful stat sheet (Thank you, MIAA!) revealed that Jennie missed all fifteen shots she took.  There’s more to that story………at least ten of those shots were blocked!  AW had sixteen blocks.  The Archies were able to throw Jennie off her game the same way Alana had thrown Coley Viselli and Stephanie Young off their games the previous tournament season.

St. Mary’s last two baskets were very similar.  Brianna drove in from the left into a double-team.  Both times she had the good basketball sense to realize that teammates were open……..and they were open in close.  First it was sophomore Kayla Carter in the low key wide open, and then it was senior Sharell Sanders in the same spot for the eventual game-winner.  In both cases, Brianna’s passes turned into perfect setups.

Alana Gilmer (18 points) takes a last-minute shot defended by Kayla Carter and Sharell Sanders

Alana Gilmer (18 points) takes a last-minute shot defended by Kayla Carter and Sharell Sanders

Archbishop Williams had a timeout and twenty seconds to do something about STM’s two-point (47-45) lead.  I never doubted that Alana (18 points) would get the final shot.  She ended up with a contested (Kayla Carter & Sharell Sanders) jump shot along the baseline which rimmed out.  After a scramble, Kayla came up with the rebound and called a timeout with 2.3 seconds left.  After a timeout, the Spartans got the ball into Brianna’s hands to dribble out the clock.

The win earns St. Mary’s a trip to the DCU Center in Worcester on Saturday for a title game against Hoosac Valley at 10:45AM.

Hoosac Valley is from Cheshire which is in the northwest corner of Massachusetts about fifteen minutes from the New York and Vermont borders.

The Hurricanes are 23-1 and won their state semifinals game by two points over Bellingham.  HV lost that same game last year.

Brianna gets inside Alana for two

Brianna gets inside Alana for two

Their only loss?  To a team from Ohio (Austintown Fitch) in Florida during winter break.

In twenty-two of the Hurricanes’ wins they have won by more than ten points.

According to Hoosac’s coach (Ron Wojcik), Austintown Fitch was the, “only team able to handle our pressure and keep turnovers down.”

St. Mary’s had only six turnovers against Archbishop Williams.  Look for them to keep the ball in the hands of Sharell Sanders and Brianna Rudolph.

St. Mary’s won the state title in 2011 over Lee.

Halftime box

Full-game box

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

team picture

team picture

Leah Spencer (14 points) leads a break

Leah Spencer (14 points) leads a break

Alana Gilmer

Alana Gilmer

Brianna Rudolph shoots

Brianna Rudolph shoots

Jennie Mucciarone gets her shot blocked by two Archies

Jennie Mucciarone gets her shot blocked by two Archies

Sophomore Victoria Dean

Sophomore Victoria Dean

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Cardinal Spellman reaches D3 state finals with 51-44 OT win over Watertown

Cardinal Spellman celebrates afterwards

Cardinal Spellman celebrates afterwards

Joey Crane (20 points) finds an opening in close for the tying basket

Joey Crane (20 points) finds an opening in close for the tying basket

(Boston MA) Watertown had only four made free throws to show for the final 9 1/2 minutes of playing time in the state Division 3 semi-finals.

Nothing good will come from a scoring drought of that magnitude……..and it didn’t as Cardinal Spellman (21-4) rallied into overtime and defeated the Raiders, 51-44, on Tuesday night at the TD Garden.

The Cardinals’ victory sends them to the state finals on Saturday at the DCU Center in Worcester against (22-2) Tyngsborough.

Watertown (18-6) had its scoring drought at the end and it cost them the game.  Cardinal Spellman had their scoring drought earlier and it nearly cost them the game.

Rory Donovan (15 points) looks for an opening

Rory Donovan (15 points) looks for an opening

CS had a, 23-20, lead with three minutes left in the first half.  Senior Rory Donovan (15 points) paced the Cardinals with eleven points.

But then it took the team from Brocton (MA) eight minutes to score another basket!  And while the Cardinals missed, the Raiders ran twelve unanswered points and jumped in front, 32-23, with 4 1/2 minutes to go in the third quarter.   Brendan Hoban, Cesar Fulcar, TJ Hairston, and Kevin DiPietrantonio put the 12-point package together.

The Cardinals ended up with a pitiful 4-point third quarter and ended it trailing by nine (36-27).

A layup by Brendan Hoban (10 points) gave Watertown it biggest lead (40-29) with 5 1/2 minutes left in regulation.

I couldn’t see at the time, that there was any way CS could even make a game of it the rest of the way.  They weren’t shooting well at all and Watertown was very capable of running time off the clock.

Christian Tapia, Mike Hagopian, Cesar Fulcar, TJ Hairston, and Brendan Hoban in overtime

Christian Tapia, Mike Hagopian, Cesar Fulcar, TJ Hairston, and Brendan Hoban in overtime

However, the Cardinals were able to get the ball into the hands of Joey Crane (20 points) often enough in the next 2+ minutes for the 6-4 senior to get a three, an old-fashioned three, and a layup.  This scoring spurt cut the Watertown lead to three (40-37) with three minutes left.

The Raiders finally stopped the bleeding with two Kevin DiPietrantonio (10 points) free throws.

But Austin Joseph answered with a three with ninety seconds left to get CS within two (42-40).

Austin Joseph breaks in

Austin Joseph breaks in

Cesar Fulcar missed and so did Ryan Roach.  Watertown then ran the shot clock down and ended up with a very long 3-point attempt by Kevin DiPietrantonio that missed.  Austin Joseph took in the rebound and CS called a timeout with twenty-three seconds left.

After the timeout, point guard Ryan Roach was able to find a cutting Joey Crane for a successful layup with three seconds remaining tying the score at 42-42.

Brendan Hoban got off a three that was well short as regulation ended.

Ryan Roach drives on Cesar Fulcar

Ryan Roach drives on Cesar Fulcar

I noted at the time that CS reacted as if they had won.  Watertown reacted as if they had lost.

Two minutes into overtime the Cardinals had a three points lead (45-42) on a converted rebound by Rory Donovan and a free throw by Joey Crane.

Austin Joseph followed with a dagger basket as he sped down the lane for a layup giving CS a five-point lead with 1:19 remaining.

Watertown continued to miss and were forced to foul.  Ryan Roach hit three free throws and Joey Crane added another.

Finally, with eleven seconds left TJ Hairston made tow free throws to end 6+ minutes of Raiders’ scorelessness.

Ryan Roach was able to dribble out the clock as the CS crowd chanted, “DCU, DCU.”

tight defense

tight defense

I came away very impressed with Watertown’s TJ Hairston.  The Raiders’ all-leaguer in football, basketball, and baseball tallied thirteen points and pulled down nineteen rebounds.

Rory Donohoe (15 points/11 rebounds) had a double/double for Cardinal Spellman.

Ryan Roach struggled shooting (2-for-15) but handed out nine assists including one to Joey Crane that sent the game into overtime.

Watertown and Cardinal Spellman played the same game (D3 state semi-finals) three years ago at the Garden.  The Raiders won big (56-36) leading by twenty-five after three quarters.  Watertown went on to lose to Whitinsville Christian in the state finals.

Cardinal Spellman was the #2 seed in the South and plays in the Catholic Central League.

Watertown was the #2 seed in the North and is in the Middlesex League.

Watertown has won six North titles.  CS has won the South title twice in the last four years.

Ryan Roach will be attending Stonehill while Austin Joseph will graduate to Gordon.

The MIAA provided stat sheets for the first time.  Everyone attempting to write a game story says, “Thanks!”

halftime box

full-game box

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Cardinal Spellman ices the game with free throws

Cardinal Spellman ices the game with free throws

Ryan Roach dribbles away the closing seconds.

Ryan Roach dribbles away the closing seconds.

Cardinal Spellman student section

Cardinal Spellman student section

Joey Crane drives baseline

Joey Crane drives baseline

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Devan Harris (35 points) leads Danvers past Belmont 62-59 in D2 North semi-finals

Devan Harris (35 points) made shots in close all night long.

Devan Harris (35 points) made shots in close all night long.

Devan Harris draws contact in the lane

Devan Harris draws contact in the lane

(Beverly MA) Danvers made only one shot from the outside, missed ten free throws, and didn’t take good care of the ball (eighteen turnovers) but they still found a way to win.

How?  The Falcons (20-3) totally dominated on the inside.  Control of the interior enabled Danvers to edge Belmont, 62-59, on Tuesday night to reach the Division 2 North finals on Saturday at the Tsongas Arena (3:45PM).

Junior Devan Harris (35 points) was unstoppable inside gathering rebounds and converting seven caroms into put-back baskets.

Peter Merry (6-8) had six blocks (by my count) and discouraged the Marauders a number of times from even taking shots close to the basket.

This was a game in which leads were short-lived.  There were eighteen lead changes and the final one came with twenty-three seconds left.

Keith Burns lines up a shot

Keith Burns lines up a shot

#6 Belmont (18-7) jumped ahead, 59-58, on a three by senior Keith Burns assisted by Matt Kerans with fifty seconds left in the game.

After a Belmont timeout, Devan Harris tried an outside shot and missed but Kieran Beck came up with the offensive rebound and was fouled.

Kieran connected on both pressure shots giving the Falcons the lead, 60-59, with twenty-three seconds remaining.

Matt Kerans tried a 3-pointer from straight away which rimmed out.  Devan Harris rebounded and was fouled.

Devan made one of two giving Danvers a 61-59, edge with twelve seconds left.

Matt Kerans went for another three, with Kieran Beck defending, and missed again with 1.4 seconds to go.  Freshman Devon Allen got this rebound, was fouled, and made one of two attempts.

Matt Kerans fires a three in the closing seconds

Matt Kerans fires a three in the closing seconds

Belmont ended up with less than a second to try for a three.  Kieran Beck intercepted the pass in and the celebrating began.

Belmont was clearly at a size disadvantage from the get-go.  Adam Kleckner (6-4) was their tallest player and he fouled out at the end of the third quarter.  Adam had a quiet six points in this game.  In the Belmont win over Salem in the D2 North quarterfinals, Adam had twenty-one points.  Earlier in the season, in a win over Lexington, the Belmont junior put up thirty-six points and collected fifteen rebounds.  No question the Marauders missed Adam at both ends of the court in the final quarter.

Kieran Beck looks to pass

Kieran Beck looks to pass

It’s hard for me to imagine a team winning a game in which all their field goals (twenty), but one (Kieran Beck three), are scored in the paint.

Belmont connected seven times from long range.  They came very close twice to an eighth 3-pointer in final twenty seconds that could have given them the victory.

The Marauders trailed 12-10 in the first quarter before running off eight straight points.  The points came from Adam Kleckner with four and Justin Wagner and Jalyn Hinton two each.

Trailing, 18-12, it was #2 Danvers’ turn to run consecutive points.  The Falcons put together a steak of nine unanswered.  It was Devan Harris scoring on his own miss and following that up with a layup on a nice pass from Mark McCarthy.  Kieran Beck did the rest with the lone Danvers outside score and two free throws.

Peter Merry gets a rebound

Peter Merry gets a rebound

Belmont hit two 3’s late in the second quarter (Keith Burns and Matt Kerans) to erase a Danvers five-point lead.  Danvers led, 29-28, at halftime.

Devan Harris erased a four-point Belmont lead (39-35) in the third quarter with two layups and two free throws.

The Marauders broke a 43-43 tie with a seven-point run stretching into the final quarter.  A layup and two free throws by Matt Kerans were followed by a long one from Keith Burns.

The resulting 50-43 spread with 7 1/2 minutes left looked like the beginning of the end for the Falcons but they came back with three inside scores (layups Devan Harris and Rashad Francois plus a converted rebound by Devan) and cut the Belmont lead to one (50-49) six minutes left.

There were five lead changes the rest of the way and plenty to cheer about for both fan bases.

Adam Kleckner saves a ball going out of bounds

Adam Kleckner saves a ball going out of bounds

Former Falcon point guard Eric Martin was in the house.  No question Coach John Walsh would have found a spot for him on the floor especially in the second half when Danvers had thirteen turnovers.

But despite the deficiencies the Falcons found a way to win and extend their improbably season.  No one imagined such a successful season for a team losing four starters and Vinny Clifford.

Kieran Beck and Peter Merry each had ten points for Danvers.

Ben Lazenby (16) and Keith Burns (14) had double figures for Belmont.

Belmont is out of the Middlesex League while Danvers plays in the Northeast Conference.

There was certainly a good crowd on hand but the noise and numbers hardly compared to the reported 3,500 in attendance for the St. John’s/Central Catholic game the night before.

Danvers box

Belmont box

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Adam Kleckner defends Mark McCarthy

Adam Kleckner defends Mark McCarthy

Kieran Beck gets a late-game offensive rebound

Kieran Beck gets a late-game offensive rebound

Ben Lazenby, Peter Merry, Justin Wagner

Ben Lazenby, Peter Merry, Justin Wagner

Falcons celebrate

Falcons celebrate

Devan Harris shoots over Justin Wagner

Devan Harris shoots over Justin Wagner

Aaron Croce goes for the block

Aaron Croce goes for the block

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