High schools

Division 3 north final: Watertown 48, Stoneham 34

Watertown handles Stoneham

LOWELL – Watertown High’s game methodology is clear-cut: get the ball in point guard Cesar Fulcar’s hands.

“That’s how we play — we’re going to live and die with that, with Cesar making decisions for us,” Watertown coach Steve Harrington said. “He’s our floor general, as he has been all year.”


It’s been a prescription for success, as Fulcar’s confidence and basketball IQ give the Red Raiders time and chances. And it helped Watertown roar past Middlesex League foe Stoneham, 48-34, in the Division 3 North final at the Tsongas Center Saturday.

“It’s something I take pride in, leading the team out there,” said Fulcar, a 5-foot-11-inch senior who finished with 15 points. “I’m helping make sure we’re in all of our sets, doing our plays correctly, and making sure we’re getting good shots every time.”

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The Red Raiders (18-5) return to TD Garden for the first time since the 2010-11 season, when they finished as the state’s Division 3 runner-up, losing to Whitinsville, 42-36. Watertown will play the South champion Tuesday at 4 p.m.

Stoneham (13-11) held the potent Watertown offense in check during the first quarter, holding the Red Raiders to an 11-10 lead, but Fulcar and backcourt teammate Brendan Hoban (13 points) proved too much. Watertown opened a 13-point lead (27-14) by halftime, and kept pulling away, jumping ahead by 20 (42-22) after three quarters.

“We went to the zone in the second half to try to limit [Cesar’s] ability to isolate shots, and it worked for a couple of minutes, but they have four other kids who can shoot the ball, too,” said Stoneham coach Brian Caira, whose team was soundly beaten in the teams’ regular-season matchups, 61-32 Jan. 10, and 72-40 Feb. 7.


The Red Raiders defense gave Stoneham fits, with sloppy ball-handling adding to Stoneham’s woes. Fulcar took advantage of one steal with 2:35 left in the first half, driving down the court and taking care of a layup to give Watertown a 27-14 lead.

Any remaining hope for Stoneham was lost toward the end of the third quarter, when Watertown’s Kevin DiPietrantonio and Fulcar, courtesy of outstanding passing by the Red Raiders, hit back-to-back 3-pointers, giving Watertown a commanding 42-20 lead.

“We were able to utilize our strengths in speed and quickness,” Harrington said. “As any team does, I think we thrive on playing from ahead. After the 3-pointers, and with our ball-handlers, we were able to run the clock out at that point.”

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