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MIAA NORTH BOYS' BASKETBALL FINALS

Beverly makes history, beats Belmont for first D2 North championship

Beverly's Jack Crowley (10) celebrates with teammates at the end of Saturday's Division 2 North boys' basketball championship victory over Belmont at Tsongas Center in Lowell.
Beverly's Jack Crowley (10) celebrates with teammates at the end of Saturday's Division 2 North boys' basketball championship victory over Belmont at Tsongas Center in Lowell.Erin Clark/Globe Staff

LOWELL — Behind another efficient performance from its dynamic duo, the Beverly boys’ basketball team continued to navigate uncharted waters, securing the first Division 2 North title in program history with a 76-59 victory over Belmont on Saturday at Tsongas Center

Beverly (21-2) will face Whitman-Hanson in a state semifinal Wednesday (7:15 p.m.) at TD Garden.

“I’m so happy for the city of Beverly,” coach Matt Karakoudas said. “These last couple weeks it’s been like ‘Friday Night Lights.’ These guys have a whole community backing them and that’s what [has] made it so special.”

The top-seeded Panthers started red hot, connecting on 9 of their first 11 field goal attempts to take a 19-8 lead through one quarter. Senior forward Jack Crowley scored 17 of his game-high 26 points in the first half, then passed the baton to fellow senior Duncan Moreland, who poured in 16 of his 25 points in the second half.

“Me and Duncan have been playing together since fourth grade, so we have good chemistry,” Crowley said. “We came out strong but we never slacked. We kept our [foot] on the gas and just kept pushing.”

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While both Moreland and Crowley can dominate down low, they were lethal from the perimeter in this contest as well. Crowley’s lone 3-pointer made it 30-14 Beverly, and the lead never got below single digits after that. Beverly shot 53 percent from the floor and forced Belmont into 16 turnovers.

In the fourth quarter, Moreland knifed through the Belmont defense for a thunderous dunk, and after third-seeded Belmont (19-5) made it a 66-55 game in the waning minutes, Moreland responded with a 3-point play to push the lead back to 71-57.

“We didn’t want to settle for perimeter shots,” Karakoudas said. “We’ll take them if they’re there. But we have to attack the basket and live through Jack and Duncan.”

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“Every game it’s like [the team is] breaking more and more school records. A lot of people didn’t think these guys could get it done … but I couldn’t be more proud of these guys and how hard they’ve worked.”

Division 3

St. Mary’s 63, Weston 40 — Top-seeded St. Mary’s dominated the paint with big men Joey Abate-Walsh and Lee Pacheco early on, then turned it over to its stifling defense to capture the title at Tsongas Arena.

The win was the program’s third sectional title in five years, but first since moving up to Division 3 in 2018. The Spartans (22-2) will play South champion Burke in a state semifinal Wednesday (3:45 p.m.) at TD Garden.

“We just have so many weapons and you can’t really come into the game against us saying we need to stop one person,” said the 6-foot-8-inch Abate-Walsh, who led St. Mary’s with 17 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 blocks. “There’s so many people you need to stop.”

On the same floor a year ago, Weston lost the North final on a putback by Dracut. This season’s version was far less suspenseful.

Weston’s front line was led by 6-10 sophomore Sawyer Mayhugh, but St. Mary’s senior guard Joshua Perez (11 points, 7 assists) attacked it from the start. When Perez wasn’t finishing shots around the rim, he was dishing the ball to Abate-Walsh and Pacheco (15 points, 5 rebounds) for easy layups.

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St. Mary’s led, 23-4, after one quarter, and the 10th-seeded Wildcats (13-11) never got within 15 points.

“[Weston has] been playing good basketball, but we were able to spread them out and look weak side and got a lot of easy buckets that way,” St. Mary’s coach David Brown said.

All the while, the Spartans’ defense forced 26 turnovers, recorded 15 steals, and held Weston to 32 percent shooting. Mayhugh recorded 13 points and nine rebounds.

St. Mary’s was the top seed in each of the last two Division 3 North tournaments, but failed to capture a sectional title. When star forward Ademide Badmus transferred to Lynn English in the offseason, Brown heard chatter that his program was headed for a downfall.

“All the talk was St. Mary’s is all done,” Brown said. “Look at us now. We’re back at the Garden. This is a basketball team this year. There are no individuals.”

Globe correspondent Matt Doherty reported from Lowell.