After scoring the first basket of the game, Duxbury never led again, as Arlington Catholic beat the Green Dragons, 40-27, in the Division 2 state semifinal at TD Garden to end Duxbury’s bid for an undefeated season.
Four Catholic Central teams will now be playing for a state basketball title this weekend. Arlington Catholic joins the St. Mary’s girls and the boys teams from Cardinal Spellman and St. Clement.
Though the game got off to a slow start, Arlington Catholic (21-4) dominated the first quarter, taking an 11-2 lead. Every time Duxbury (24-1) looked like it would make a comeback, the Cougars continued to play.
“If you stop playing, you think about what’s going on, so just keep playing, good things happen,” Arlington Catholic coach Dave Brady said.
Duxbury’s first attempt at a comeback came in the second quarter when back-to-back layups by Catherine Harrison sparked a 9-2 run, bringing the Dragons within 2. But the Cougars, who faced close games during the season, never panicked. Arlington Catholic scored 4 consecutive points and entered halftime with a 17-11 lead.
“We’ve been in really tight games before throughout our season, so we knew what it was like to be in those close situations,” Arlington Catholic guard Melissa Rogers said. “So, I think we figured it out during the course of the year, and started to pull through.”
The Cougars continued their dominance in the second half, stretching their lead to 30-18 in the third quarter. Duxbury cut the deficit to 10 at the 4:21 mark, but Arlington Catholic answered with consecutive baskets for a 14-point lead, its largest of the game.
Duxbury’s defense limited Arlington Catholic’s outside shot, so Rogers, who finished with a game-high 17 points, found openings in the lane.
“I never thought [Rogers] would be 17 points around the basket this game, too. She was going to the basket. I thought it would be my bigs, not Melissa,” Brady said. “She was a warrior going to the basket.
“It was a little different. She’s so unselfish and runs the team so well; I think they did a great job at staying home on our bigs. So, I think it opened it up for Melissa a little bit.”
Though Duxbury held a slight rebounding edge, 38-36, Brady knew in order to win, the Cougars would have to battle for rebounds against Duxbury’s big frontcourt.
“I think what it came down to was our rebounding. I mean, for the most part they were one shot and done,” Brady said. “We were both one shot and done, but I thought not giving them a lot of second-shot attempts was very important.”