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