FRAMINGHAM — When a 24-point halftime lead was cut to 9 before the end of the third quarter, David Prouty coach Pat O’Connor knew what to do. He told the best high school player he’s ever seen to take over the game.
Point guard Braeden White scored the next 10 points for the second-seeded Panthers, en route to a 19-point fourth quarter. He tied his career high of 40 points, which he achieved last year in the Round of 16.
Fellow senior captain Cam Hoekstra added five of his 15 in the frame, and Prouty capped an 85-58 Division 5 semifinal victory over Holbrook at Framingham High. Sophomore guard Alec Fournier finished with 12 points in the game.
“I felt like we had good defense that led to a fast break offense, and we just had a lot of energy and kept playing fast,” said White, who has eclipsed 1,000 points in his career.
Coach O’Connor, a 2008 Prouty graduate of 2008 who played for the Panthers, has led the boys’ basketball team to its first finals appearance where Prouty (24-0),will face top-seeded Taconic (22-2) Saturday at 4 p.m. at the Tsongas Center in Lowell.
85-58 is the final, David Prouty is finals-bound! pic.twitter.com/CCCXEyNV67— AJ (@aj_traub) March 16, 2023
“Oh my gosh, this means so much to me,” the fifth-year coach said. “Our kids have done so much for our community. The community has really rallied around us. That’s bigger than basketball. We haven’t had a lot to cheer about in a long time.”
When a vote was taken on whether to build a new school in Spencer, the team helped rally supporters of the referendum, which passed. Team members also helped with summer camp and youth programs.
“That makes me emotional about this,” O’Connor said. “These kids are just playing basketball, but they don’t know what they’re doing for the other people showing up. It’s a big deal.”
While the girls’ team at Prouty has won a state title, the best achievement the boys’ team recorded was a Central Mass. sectional title in 1982, when there was no statewide tournament.
In their four postseason games, the Panthers outscored opponents by a combined 338-217. Prouty reached 33 points before No. 14 Holbrook (20-5) reached double-digits in the second quarter.
“It hasn’t even hit me yet, I’m not going to lie. This is insane,” Hoekstra said. “This is like a dream come true. I can’t even put it into words. It’s been a dream since I was little. To play with these guys again, it’s insane. I’m so excited.”