Trailing late in a low-scoring battle with undefeated Andover for the Merrimack Valley Conference Cup, the Central Catholic boys’ basketball team leaned on the experience derived from a challenging year, as the Raiders steadily pulled away with clutch defense and rebounding to secure a 39-37 win at Tewksbury High Thursday afternoon.
After Andover (11-1) defeated Central Catholic (9-3) twice in the opening week of the season, the young Raiders continued their trials with nine road games during a season unlike any other. They played an elite Lowell team three times in a row to reach the MVC 1 final, and battled on both ends to neutralize Andover’s sizable front line.
“I’m proud of how we’ve competed,” said Central first-year coach Mark Dunham. “We’ve won games scoring 70 now we just won a game scoring 39. Our group has been through so much this year, and everybody has, but the schedule we played, we feel like we were battle tested. When there was two minutes to go I’m screaming, ‘We’ve been here!’”
Nothing could separate the teams through three quarters as each coach used a variety of defensive looks to slow down the opposition. Senior captain Nate Godin helped Central break Andover’s zone with a couple early 3-pointers, and his jumper tied the game, 36-36, with 2 minutes remaining.
Junior Xavier McKenzie (14 points) hit a stepback to put the Raiders up, 38-36, with 1 minute to go, and Andover junior post Aidan Cammann (9 points, 9 rebounds) responded with a free throw to make it 38-37, but his second attempt was waved off by a violation.
Central senior Jermaine Wiggins Jr. went to the line with 6 seconds left to try and ice it, but his free throw went awry and sophomore Marcus Rivera (6 points, 9 rebounds) tracked it down before eventually hitting one of two free throws with 0.5 remaining.
“I love that kid [Rivera], he always makes those type of plays,” said McKenzie.
“It feels great [to win the MVC 1 trophy], not only for me, but for our two seniors. Because in a year like this, it’s not fair, they didn’t get a full slate of games, so I really wanted to win it for them.”
Newton South 66, Concord-Carlisle 52 — As coach Steve Matthews told his jubilant South players postgame, “it’s not every year that [we] get to end the season with a win.” But with 6-foot-6 junior Itai Alinskydelivering a dominant 27-point, 14-rebound performance, freshman Jake Lemelman contributing 15, and senior guards Max Aicardi (14 points) and Sam Prudovskuy taking control on the perimeter, the host Lions (9-3) won the Dual County Large title.
Alinsky, who averaged 16 points and 10 boards for the season, helped put the game away with three straight conventional 3-point plays.
“Our defense was tremendous,” said Matthews. “They cut it to 4 with 5 minutes left, then we got stops. It was a really good team win. The kids did a great job this season. Each week, they got better.”
Boston Latin 67, Weston 46 — For the second time in three seasons, Boston Latin won the DCL Small title behind 15 points from senior Ryan Donahue, and 10 points and stifling defense from senior Jake Harrison. The Wolfpack (8-2) got past Weston’s zone defense with a 23-point outburst in the fourth quarter to put the cap on a successful season.
“We beat Cambridge for the first time,” said Boston Latin coach Brendan Smith. “I’ve been here 20-plus years and I don’t think we’ve ever beat Cambridge. Not only to win the league, but to beat Cambridge, to put up our second banner in three years, it’s not easy to win the league.”
After a four-week delay because of the pandemic, Latin finally opened the season on Jan. 19, with a 53-52 loss to Weston.
Dracut 73, North Andover 66 — Junior guard Adrian Torres poured in a game-high 33 points and senior Kevin Agyemang added 23 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists as the Middies (5-7) captured the MVC Division 2 Cup with the win over the Knights (4-8) at Chelmsford High.
Seeded last in the MVC Cup with a 3-7 record, Dracut upset Methuen, 53-51, Tuesday night before pulling away in the second half Thursday to win the title.
Coach Brian Myers said his team jelled at the right time. “We won D3 North two years ago and it’s hard to compare them both but this one is special because our team came together late,” said Myers. “Many probably doubted us and quite a few thought we didn’t belong there. We proved our mettle and our kids are thrilled about it.”
Hingham 62, North Quincy 49 — Nick Johannes tossed in 16 points and Liam McBride added 13 to lead the host Harbormen (8-4) into Saturday’s Patriot Cup final.
Mansfield 81, Brookline 62 — Senior Matt Boen racked up a 27-point, 10-rebound, 10-assist performance in his final game as the Hockomock Kelley-Rex champions capped a 15-1 season with the nonleague win. Senior Brian See added 13 points and Brendan Foley had 10 points and four rebounds.
Monomoy 54, Sturgis East 51 — Brad Alexis posted up for 22 points and 15 rebounds and Aidan Melton added 17 points and 10 boards in the Cape & Islands win.
Newburyport 65, North Reading 50 — Jacob Roberson rifled in 29 points as the Clippers capped a 12-0 season with the Cape Ann vs. Cancer Kinney title. John Jennings led North Reading with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Peabody 56, Saugus 47 — Senior guard Drew Lucas posted 16 points and 8 rebounds, and sophomore forward Shea Lynch had 15 points and 6 rebounds to lead the Tanners (7-4) to the Northeastern Conference win.
Taunton 76, Attleboro 57 — Juniors Tristen Herry (20 points), Trent Santos (18 points), and Faisal Mass (12 points, 12 rebounds) powered the host Tigers (8-1) to a share of their first Hockomock Kelley-Rex division title.
Watertown 64, Arlington 60 — Senior guard Gabe Spinelli poured in 34 points and junior Adam Patterson chipped in 17 points as the host Raiders (11-1) held off a second-half comeback attempt from the Spy Ponders and secured the Middlesex League Tournament semifinal win. Watertown will host Winchester (11-1) in the final on Saturday (3 p.m.).
“We have the ability to close games out well because we have enough ball handling and know how to use the clock,” said Watertown coach Steve Harrington.
“With this being such a weird year and us having a great team, having this tournament is awesome. It’ll be the two top teams in the finals and we’re glad that’s where it’s at.”
Whitman-Hanson 71, Plymouth North 61 — Senior guard Nate Amado (26 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists) was the headliner, but Cole Levangie (11 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists), and Amari Johnson (12 points) were stellar too as the host Patriots (11-0) extended their winning streak to 34 games with the semifinal win in the Patriot Cup. W-H will host Hingham in Saturday’s final at 6 p.m.. Julian Llopez had 26 points for North.
Boston Latin 50, Bedford 39 — Junior guard Emelia O’Gilvie scored 21 of her game-high 28 points in the second half to spark the Wolfpack (8-2) to their first Dual County League (Small) title since 1999.
With the Latin boys defeating Weston earlier in the day, it is the first time since 1997 that both the boys’ and girls’ programs have won league titles in the same season. Boston Latin athletics started later than other DCL schools due to stricter COVID-19 regulations in Boston, making the win even more enjoyable.
“Going into this season, we thought we would have a really good team, but then when COVID hit, I thought we weren’t going to have a season,” Latin coach Keri Orellana said.
A halftime pep talk from senior Kerby Gillis also set the comeback in motion. “She had such a calming voice and she said ‘we are a good team, we know what we need to do, we know how to execute,’” Orellana said. After the break, the Wolfpack blitzed Bedford (10-4), 32-13.
Burlington 29, Wakefield 27 — Sophomore guard Liv Pena scored 10 of her 12 points in the fourth quarter, sparking a 17-point blitz from the host Red Devils (12-0) in their Middlesex League semifinal win over Wakefield. Marina Callahan added 7 points.
Falmouth 51, Nauset 22 — Senior point guard Ariana Silvia notched 20 points, 6 rebounds, eight assists, and five steals as the host Clippers (9-1) handed Nauset (10-1) its first loss in a Cape & Islands matchup.
Notre Dame-H 52, Ursuline 39 — Eighth-grader Ava Orlando collected 17 points, 8 assists, and 5 steals as host NDA advanced to the championship game of the JBA Classic. Senior Grace Burgoyne had 16 points and 10 rebounds. NDA will play Fontbonne in the final on Friday. Ursuline plays Malden Catholic in the consolation.
Whitman-Hanson 57, Plymouth North 44 — Behind 17 points and 9 rebounds from junior Abby Martin, the Panthers (9-3) toppled top-seeded Plymouth North in the Patriot Cup semifinals. Captains Rylie Harlow (10 points) and Reese Codero (9 points) also provided an offensive lift. W-H will play Hanover in Saturday’s final.
Belmont 1, Arlington 0 — After 45 minutes of scoreless play and 5 minutes of 3-on-3, sophomore Cam Fici converted the deciding goal in the shootout as the Marauders (7-3-2) pulled out the Middlesex League semifinal win at Ryan Arena in Watertown. Ryan Griffin earned the shutout.
Boston Latin 8, Wayland 2 — James Fitzgerald scored twice and six other skaters had single goals for the Wolfpack, who captured the Dual County League Small Cup title on home ice at Murphy Rink in South Boston.
“Anytime you’re playing for a trophy, it means something,” Boston Latin coach Frank Woods said.
Thomas Harnon, Colin McAdams, Shane Sullivan, Tommy Butler, Matthew Carrera and Colm Vraibel also scored for the Wolfpack (3-5).
“Given the fact we really didn’t know if we were going to have a season, and not getting started until Jan. 11, then end up playing for something that had some meaning and be able to win it, the kids really felt good about themselves leaving the rink today,” Woods said.
It also capped a 4-for-4 title day for Latin athletics, which also captured DCL titles in boys’ and girls’ basketball and girls’ hockey.
Waltham 5, Concord-Carlisle 3 — Somehow, through a 14-day COVID-19 pause on Day 3, and then another 20-day pause for the entire athletic department, the Hawks finished off a 6-0-3 skate with the Dual County League Large title at Veterans’ Memorial Rink.
Senior forward Dylan Fogg netted the pivotal fourth goal with 1.2 seconds left in the second period, set up by Matt O’Toole, and senior defenseman D.J. Caissie capped a two-goal with an empty-netter late to propel the Hawks past Concord-Carlisle.
Ryland Thomas (from Shaun Dann) and Anthony Attardo (power play, from Fogg) scored the first two goals.
“[After the two pauses], it was nice that the administration allowed us to come back and play,” said Waltham coach John Maguire. “The last three weeks, we did what we had to do [following protocols]. We are pretty happy.”
Brandon Chase, Matt Doherty, Emma Healy, Craig Larson, and Jake Levin contributed. To report scores, call 617-929-2860/3235 or email email@example.com.