WORCESTER — With his father, Ehrlich, his teammates, and the Wayland faithful hollering his name in admiration all night, and the gravity of the moment increasing by the minute, “Xo” stole the show Saturday night.
Wayland freshman star Xoren Livingston poured in 10 of his game-high 18 points in the fourth quarter, outscoring Hopkinton by himself in the final eight minutes and willing the sixth-seeded Warriors to their first sectional title since 1991, a 61-49 victory over Hopkinton at Worcester State.
Livingston drilled two 3s and finished inside twice in the fourth, helping the Warriors (14-7) pull away from the eighth-seeded Hillers (12-11) in decisive fashion. Wayland trailed, 28-24, at the half, but the Warriors regrouped and seized control.
“We were down four, and in the locker room, I got a sense the guys felt like we were down 14,” said Wayland coach Dennis Doherty, who was a junior on that 1991 Wayland squad. “I was like, ‘Guys, we know we can play better, but we’ve just got to stay with it.’”
An extended 21-5 Wayland run, spanning nearly eight minutes from the end of third to midway through the fourth, was ultimately the difference. Senior Jack Melvin added 13 points for the Warriors, and junior Noah Lee hit several timely shots.
Senior Elan Rosen paced Hopkinton with 16. The Hillers almost completed an improbable run as the lowest seed in the tournament, but Livingston and the Warriors simply had too much firepower.
“It’s crazy,” Livingston said. “This is my first year playing on the team, and these guys took me in like family. It’s been an experience.”
Wayland will face Taconic, the three-seed from the West, in a state semifinal Wednesday at Western New England (7:30 p.m.).
Division 2 girls
Medway 44, Marlborough 37 — In capturing the program’s first sectional title since 1994, the second-seeded Mustangs (21-2) outlasted the top-seeded Panthers (20-3).
Junior forward Lauren Beach (14 points, 9 rebounds) hit the eventual winning free throws with 2:10 remaining. The Mustangs held the Panthers to 4 points in the fourth quarter and pulled away in a game that was tight throughout.
“We have a lot of respect for them,” Beach said. “We knew we’d have to fight for this one, so I think we showed not only physical toughness, but also mental toughness to stay in it when they made some runs.”
Medway will play West champion Taconic in a state semifinal Wednesday at Western New England (5:30 p.m.).
After Beach’s free throws, sophomore Margaret Regan scored inside and canned two free throws and sophomore Anna Longval came up with a huge steal and defensive rebound to seal the win.
A beaming Medway coach Joe Iannone credited his team for its resilience and toughness.
“We’ve been at this for 11 years, and our goal for 11 years has been maybe we can win one sectional title,” said Iannone, at the helm since 2009. “We finally got it today.”
Sophomore forward Leanne Wydom led Marlborough with 15 points and eight boards. Marlborough erupted for 19 points in the second quarter to tie the score at 24 at halftime, and trailed 34-33 through three, but Medway recovered some timely loose balls and executed in the final minutes.
Division 3 girls
Millbury 37, Millis 26 — In capturing their first Central title since 2011, the top-seeded Woolies (21-2) made sure every Millis possession was a punishing grind. Millbury held Millis (16-8) to two baskets over the first 14 minutes of the second half at Worecester State University.
“It’s a long lull,” Millis coach David Fallon said. “I thought we had some good shots. We take a lot of 3s. It’s good to stick a few. It just seemed like we had to work so hard for everything, and nothing wanted to go in.”
Millbury senior Kelsey Reno scored all 10 of her points in the second half and was at the forefront of Woolies’ defensive dedication to harassing Millis junior scoring force Abigail Miller (4 points).
“We knew the plays ran through her most of the time,” Reno said. “If we could take her out of the game, that was one less person we had to worry about. It was tough work, but it was definitely worth it.”
Millis went the first 6:21 of the third quarter without a point before freshman Mia Molinari’s two baskets had the Mohawks within 24-19 entering the fourth. Reno’s second-chance corner jumper then sparked a 9-0 Millbury run over the first 5:58 of the fourth to secure the spot in the state semifinals against Hoosac on Tuesday at Western New England (5:30 p.m.).
Scott Souza also reported from Worcester State.