fb-pixel Skip to main content

In defense of its Division 2 championship, Malden Catholic boys’ basketball marches on to a title showdown vs. Mansfield

Charlestown's Ricky Cabral (12) tries to fend off the pressure from Malden Catholic's Matthew Gaffney in Monday's Division 2 semifinal at Woburn High.Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

— Malden Catholic’s title defense hung on the brink early in Monday’s state semifinal matchup against Charlestown at Woburn High. The Lancers trailed by 15 points and were turning the ball over in droves against Charlestown’s pressure, but the defending Division 2 boys’ basketball champions showed their poise by turning the game around and pulling away for a 66-54 semifinal win at Woburn High.

The top-seeded Lancers (22-2) will face No. 2 Mansfield (23-2) in the state final at the Tsongas Center (TBA).

“[The Townies] came out more aggressive than us and we weren’t ready in those first minutes,” said Malden Catholic sophomore guard Matt Gaffney.


After fifth-seeded Charlestown (21-5) opened a 24-9 lead early in the second quarter, Gaffney hit three triples to key a 16-4 run that gave the Lancers life heading into the break.

“That was a relief,” said Malden Catholic coach John Walsh. “Because we didn’t know where the points were going to come from and it could’ve gone the other way. [Gaffney] doesn’t hit those and [the Townies] hit one or two, and the lead balloons up.”

In the second half, Malden Catholic slowly pulled even and then took control with effective offensive sets in the half court to generate good looks.

Buckley Moody, a junior from from Medford, hit five 3-pointers and handed out seven assists, and senior captain Nick Martinez (Revere) finished with a team-high 18 points. Thrust into the starting lineup during the tournament, senior Ethan Tracy (Rowley) hit a pair of clutch 3-pointers from the corner to give the Lancers more breathing room in the fourth quarter.

Sophomore forward Jaylin Crawford-Williams was huge at both ends for Charlestown with 20 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 blocks, and freshman Jaylen Hunter-Coleman chipped in 16 points.

With the stars from last year’s title run congratulating them, Martinez and his teammates looked ahead toward the state final as they look to finish their quest and repeat as champions.


“They’ve taken what the kids did last year, and the year before, and taken that mantle and run with it,” said Walsh. “To see all those kids come back. It shows we’re building a program. They even come to our practices. It’s a real family atmosphere.”

Malden Catholic's Buckley Moody drains a 3-pointer over Charlestown's Victor Soto Monday night. Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff
Mansfield's Eddie McCoy (13) passes over the Nashoba defense in the first half of Monday's Division 2 semifinal at Worcester State. MARK STOCKWELL FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE

Mansfield 65, Nashoba 45 — The tournament has been a coming out party for Eddie McCoy.

With the second-seeded Hornets down two starters, the 6-foot-3-inch junior has taken a central role. After 31- and 22-point performances in the previous two rounds, McCoy dropped 28 points to power the Mansfield (24-2) past No. 6 Nashoba in a semifinal at Worcester State University.

McCoy set the tone early with 9 points in the first quarter. He added 7 in the second to fend off a run from the Wolves (21-3). He scored 6 in the third and fourth quarters as Mansfield pulled away.

“Eddie’s been showing little glimpses of it all year, but talk about his ability to take over a game,” Mansfield coach Mike Vaughan said. “He’s doing it within the flow, which I like. He’s not forcing action; he’s not trying to do it all himself. He’s allowing his teammates to contribute and help.”

Seniors JT Veiking (16 points) and Chris Hill (10) each added strong showings for the Hornets, who are minus junior starters Trevor Foley and Davon Sanders due to injury. With the Hornets needing a player to step up each night, McCoy has taken the lead. He showed off a plethora of crafty finishes around the rim Monday night, including a reverse plus the free throw to get past Nashoba big man Jack Lagarde.


“We’re down Trevor and Davon, and that hurts us,” McCoy said. “I feel like I’ve had to step up and take more of a ‘be the guy’ type of role,” McCoy said.

Lagarde and senior Niklas Pavia each scored 10 to lead the Wolves.

Mansfield's JT Veiking (23) blocks Nashoba's Jacob Belsanti (4) during the first half of the Division 2 semifinal at Worcester State.MARK STOCKWELL FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE

Division 5 State

Taconic 74, Maynard 52 — Tayvon Sandifer (18 points, 10 assists, 8 rebounds) and Maimoudou Bamba (23 points, 20 rebounds) each put up monster performances to help the top-seeded Thunder (22-2) storm past the fifth-seeded Tigers (15-8).

Steve Patch (15 points) hit five 3-pointers, and Christian Maturevich (8 points, 10 rebounds) drew three charges and nabbed four steals to shore up the defensive end. Taconic will face the David Prouty/Holbrook winner in the championship at Tsongas Center (time/date TBA).

Taconic coach Bill Heaphy believed the supporting cast was key to the decisive win. “It takes a lot of pressure off a kid like Tayvon, who does not have to go out and get 25 or 28 points,” he said. “The more we have more guys involved, the more active we become defensively, and that’s kind of what happened tonight.”

Nate Weitzer reported from Woburn and Mike Puzzanghera from Worcester State. Joseph Pohoryles also contributed.