Burke’s quest for a second state semifinal win in three years fell short against a talented and athletic Springfield International side, which used a 13-2 run at the end of the third quarter and early fourth quarter to take control of a 59-53 victory in Wednesday’s Division 4 state semifinal at Worcester State.
No. 3 Springfield International (22-2) advances to play Wareham, a convincing 69-32 winner over Millbury in the other D4 semifinal, to earn the program’s first state final appearance since 2010. Second-seeded Burke, the City League champions, finished 19-5 as they sought a second state final appearance since being crowned co-state champions in 2020.
“They’re a very good team,” Burke coach Sean Ryan said of Springfield International. “I thought we battled and I’m so proud of this group all year. Our shots didn’t go in today and I didn’t think we won enough 50/50 balls. But I’m so proud of them.”
Burke led 36-32 late in the third quarter when Springfield International rattled off six straight points capped by a London Denson (17 points) layup in traffic. Springfield International then showed off its size and strength to start the fourth when 6-foot-8-inch sophomore Sam Fleming (18 points, 7 rebounds) converted a pair of shots down low and altered shots at the rim.
FINAL: Springfield International 59, Burke 53— Matt Doherty (@m_doherty23) March 15, 2023
SICS pulls ahead early in the fourth and then holds off a late comeback attempt from Burke to reach the D4 state final.
Another great season from Sean Ryan and Co. Jaeden Roberts had 23 for Burke. @GlobeSchools pic.twitter.com/5DWIPYuhFP
Senior guard Kenny Rogers came alive in the final frame as well, finishing up two misses with put backs, giving Springfield an insurmountable 45-36 lead. Burke never recovered from.
“First off, Burke is a hell of a team and we knew we would have our hands full,” said Springfield International coach Pat Ochoa. “This game came down to heart and grit. Our guys left it all out on the floor.”
Sophomore guard Jaeden Roberts, the City League MVP, led Burke with 23 points, hitting five 3-pointers.
Wareham 69, Millbury 32 — Top-seeded Wareham ran out to a quick 11-0 lead and never looked back in a 37-point romp over No. 5 Millbury in the state semifinals at Bridgewater-Raynham High School.
The Vikings earned their first state title game appearance since 2010 and will take on No. 3 Springfield International this weekend at the Tsongas Center in Lowell.
Wareham (21-3) suffocated the Woolies throughout the game, allowing only 2 points in the first quarter.
It took more than four minutes for Millbury (20-5) to score their first basket. As soon as the Woolies crossed half court they were met by relentless traps from the Vikings.
Millbury junior guard Ken Donnelly, who knocked down seven 3-pointers in a quarterfinal win over Bourne, was held to only three attempts and did not convert on any of them.
“We had to neutralize [Donnelly],” said Wareham coach Steve Faniel. “We had to get bodies on [him]. We tried to flood the zone outside the arc and make them put the ball on the floor.”
Wareham junior center Antoine Crosson (10 points, nine rebounds) asserted his will early on, piling up six points and six rebounds in the first quarter alone. The Vikings jumped out it a 17-2 lead after the first eight minutes.
The Vikings forced several turnovers in the second quarter, which led to easy baskets and a 25-6 lead with more than three minutes left in the half.
Offensively, the Vikings were paced by star junior guard Ajay Lopes, who scored 18 points and dished out seven assists.
Freshman guard Aaron Cote (14 points) used his length to cause problems for Millbury’s guards and knocked down four 3-point attempts on the other end.
The Vikings took a 35-10 halftime lead and blew it up into a whopping 30-point margin in the third quarter and eventually led by a game-high 40 points in the fourth.
Wareham, a team with only one senior, is returning much of their team from last year which fell to Randolph in the Division 4 quarterfinals. “They were young, they were in it last year,” Faniel said. “And what drove them this year was not wanting to feel that way again.”
Millbury senior guard Lucas Friedman led the way for the Woolies with 13 points in his final game.
Matt Doherty reported from Worcester, Tyler Amaral reported from Bridgewater.