TAUNTON — With the score tied at 46 with five minutes left in Monday’s Division 1 state semifinal against Newton North, Worcester North coach Al Pettway told Ty Tabales to remain patient and confident.
Struggling with his outside shot, Tabales returned to the court for the final stretch and kept a possession alive with an offensive rebound. He then relocated to the top of the key where he caught a pass and rose for a triple. Swish.
On the next possession, the sophomore guard curled around a screen, received a feed from Tahlan Pettway, and connected on another long ball, prompting an emphatic right fist pump from Al Pettway as the Worcester North fan section erupted behind him.
“To see Ty make those shots my heart went through the roof,” said Tahlan Pettway, the coach’s nephew.
The two triples by Tabales broke the tie and finally allowed Worcester North to pull away from a feisty and tough Newton North side for a 64-57 win in front of a packed house at Taunton High, sending the sixth-seeded Polars Bears (23-2) to the Division 1 state final against Tuesday’s Needham/North Andover winner.
FINAL: Worcester North 64, Newton North 57— Matt Doherty (@m_doherty23) March 13, 2023
Tied 46-46 with four minutes left, Worcester North goes on a 15-5 run and advances to the Division 1 state final.
Ty Tabales hit a pair of huge 3’s to break tie and put Polar Bears ahead.
What a run by Newton North. @GlobeSchools pic.twitter.com/XZHiDxLI0d
“Newton North gave us their all like I knew they would,” said Al Pettway. “Through all of that, we never lost our composure. People always say ‘what’s going to happen when we’re in a close game’. Well, look what happened.”
Tabales’s two 3-pointers put Worcester North ahead, 52-46, for its largest lead. During the first 27 minutes, the two teams traded blow after blow in a tight, physical contest that saw Newton North lead by 1 after one quarter, Worcester North ahead 23-21 at halftime, and then tied (42-42) after three quarters.
“Our physical grit, our toughness, to play with a team like that was phenomenal,” said Newton North coach Paul Connolly. “That was like an old Big East game.”
With Tahlan Pettway (17 points) and Teshaun Steele (13 points, 8 rebounds) hitting tough shots and controlling the glass for the Polar Bears, Newton North responded each time it felt like the Worcester North would pull away.
Senior big man Will Davis (11 points) connected on a pair of 3-point plays in the third quarter and sophomore Teagan Swint poured in a game-high 20 points, scoring seven between the end of the third quarter and early fourth quarter to keep the Tigers close.
Newton North, which beat Lynn English and Lawrence to reach Monday’ semifinal, finished 20-6.
“They’re really talented and they made the plays when they needed too,” said Connolly.
After Tabales brought the crowd to its feet with his two shots, Joseph Okla added a layup for an 8-point lead with three minutes left. The Polar Bears recorded two more stops and then iced the game with free throws as the gym serenaded them with Worcester North chants.
“It’s history,” said Tabales, referencing how a Worcester public school has never won a D1 boys title. “It means a lot to get this win and I’m confident we can go all the way.”