Eoin Morrissey knew Catholic Memorial needed one final basket to put BC High away in Friday’s Catholic Conference semifinal.
With the host Knights clinging to a 65-63 lead with 20 seconds left and star senior Kurtis Henderson on the bench with five files, Morrissey drove into the paint off a motion set and rose for a floating shot that bounced off the back rim and fell in.
The junior’s timely bucket helped Catholic Memorial gain enough separation to hold off a second-half comeback attempt from BC High and advance to Saturday’s Catholic Conference final against Malden Catholic with a 69-65 win.
“With Kurt out, he always gets those big baskets, I just knew we had to get a basket,” said Morrissey, who finished with 6 points and 4 rebounds off the bench. “I saw a lane and went to the basket and luckily it went in. This year I’ve been able to step up a lot and it’s been good helping the team.”
Catholic Memorial (8-2) got off to a blazing start from behind the arc as senior guard Brendan Noonan (20 points) nailed five 3-pointers in the opening quarter to give the Knights a 24-8 lead after one.
BC High (3-5) rebounded in the second quarter, cutting the halftime deficit to 36-29 before the two team’s traded buckets in a highly-entertaining second half.
Junior guard Mike Loughnane (21 points, 7 rebounds) and seniors Daniel Scolaro (13 points) and Shea Sprague (13 points) paced the Eagles in the comeback attempt. But the University of Hartford-bound Henderson, who finished with a game-high 26 points, kept answering with deep 3-pointers and tough finishes around the rim.
“I thought Brendan played his best game of his career hitting all those 3′s,” said CM coach Dennis Tobin. “Our guys got here early today and did their shooting drills. This one for them had a tournament-like atmosphere.”
BC High trimmed the deficit to 2 points three times in the fourth quarter, and seemed to garner momentum when Henderson fouled out with 1:30 left.
After both team’s turned the ball over with under a minute to go, Tobin called a timeout to draw up an offensive set and Morrissey followed with the game-sealing bucket. Scolaro scored to make it 67-65 with four seconds left, but Noonan fittingly iced the win with a pair of free throws.
“Morrissey has been a great second option this whole year,” said Tobin. “Any time we are in a close game he seems to make a play on the offensive end and he did it again tonight.”
Malden Catholic 91, St. John’s Prep 77 — The Lancers (7-4) rained 16 3-pointers in the Catholic Conference semifinal win in Danvers, setting a season-high point total and pulling away late in the second half.
“It wasn’t something we did or planned for — we just happened to make shots,” said first-year coach John Walsh.
“The kids did a great job. They played hard, they made shots, and I was proud of them.” Junior wing Kingsley Breen led MC with 37 points and 12 rebounds. Jeff Hill (16 points) and Chris Rios (10 points) also reached double figures for the Lancers.
“[Breen] got out in transition, he got his feet set, so kids would drive and kick and try to get by their guy, draw the help and find him on the perimeter,” Walsh said. “And he made some really tough shots.”
MC (7-4) will play top-seeded Catholic Memorial (8-2) in Saturday’s final in West Roxbury at 1 p.m. Walsh knows he can’t expect the same offensive onslaught from Friday’s win, but he hopes to keep a similar energy level on the court.
“We’ve got to play extremely hard and just be ready to go, because [Catholic Memorial] can make shots really well, too.” MC won the first meeting, 69-54, on Feb. 4, but CM took the rematch seven days later, 87-65.
Correspondent Ethan Fuller also contributed.