High School Basketball

Courting championships: St. Mary’s girls, St. Clement boys rule

Braintree’s Brianna Herlihy (13) goes up against Westford’s Hannah Hackley (20) in the Division 1 girls’ state final.
Robert E. Klein for The Boston Globe
Braintree’s Brianna Herlihy (13) goes up against Westford’s Hannah Hackley (20) in the Division 1 girls’ state final.

The St. Mary’s of Lynn girls’ basketball team capped a 24-2 run with its second Division 3 state title in four seasons. The St. Clement boys won the first state championship in the history of the program, topping Quaboag in Division 4. And the Central Catholic (Division 1) and Tyngsborough boys (Division 3), along with the Westford Academy girls (Division 1), fell just short in their quests. It was quite a winter on the hardwood for all five squads. Here is a recap of their journeys.

St. Mary’s, Lynn, girls (24-2)
Division 3 state champions

Key moment of regular season: After a 64-49 loss to Archbishop Williams on Feb. 7., the Spartans never lost again — including a 47-45 payback against the Bishops in the state semifinals.

Key stat: The trio of Brianna Rudolph , Sharell Sanders , and Jennie Mucciarone teamed up for 3,500-plus points and two state championships in their four-year careers.


Defining moment of state final (a 74-36 win over Hoosac Valley): St. Mary’s hit Hoosac with an 11-0 run at the start of the third quarter (the finally tally in the quarter was 29-6), putting an end to any hopes of a comeback.

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Coach Jeff Newhall: “That’s the only thing [Saturday, at the state final] when we leave here that’s a little sad. The next time we suit up, December 10th, we’re not going to have those three [Rudolph, Sanders, and Mucciarone]. The rest of the teams we play will be happy about that, but we won’t be.”

Unsung hero: Gianna Moschella , a 5-foot-9 sophomore forward, was a crucial force in the tournament when defending the opponent’s best player in the post, capped by a 14-point, 10-rebound effort in the state final.

Future: With the departure of the senior trio, Newhall will lean on eight returnees next season.

St. Clement boys (24-1)
Division 4 state champs

Key moment of regular season: Back-to-back wins early against Watertown and Arlington Catholic at the Malden Catholic tournament assured coach Leo Boucher of his team’s competitiveness.


Key stat: The Division 4 championship is the program’s first basketball title since the school’s opening in 1925.

Defining moment of state final (a 45-42 win over Quaboag): Junior guard Emaru Pena nailed back-to-back 3-pointers late in the fourth quarter to open a six-point cushion, which the Anchormen did not relinquish.

Coach Leo Boucher: “We have this saying we use as a team. We don’t put up individual fingers in the huddle; we’re a fist as one. Everybody wins together and loses together, laughs and cries together. That’s how we operate; that’s all the kids.”

Unsung hero: Brandon Williams , a 5-foot-6 junior point guard, averaged 11 points, seven assists, and five rebounds per game this season.

Future: The Anchormen will miss the leadership of senior Khaneil Bruce on and off the court. Boucher will lean on Williams and fellow junior Eamonn Joyce .

Tyngsborough boys (22-3)
Division 3 state finalist


Key moment of regular season: A pair of regular season losses to Clinton prepped coach Mike Crowley’s squad for a rematch in the Division 3 Central semifinals.

Key stat: Junior guard Austin Coene (21 points per game) and sophomore guard Drew Hurynowicz (17 ppg) led the squad in scoring.

Defining moment of state final (a 61-51 loss to Cardinal Spellman): The Tigers cut an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit to three with just over two minutes left to play before falling short.

Coach Mike Crowley: “We didn’t quit until the final buzzer. New coach, new system — we accomplished everything in my eyes.”

Unsung hero: Paul Sickinger , a 5-foot-9 senior guard, was the Tigers’ defensive catalyst during the entire season.

Future: Tyngsborough returns three starters, including Coene and Hurynowicz.

Westford girls (22-5)
Division 1 state finalist

Key moment of regular season: The Grey Ghosts played with a chip on their shoulder after a 28-point loss to Braintree on Feb. 16.

Key stat: Senior forwards Hannah Hackley and Samantha Hyslip both eclipsed 1,000 career points this season.

Defining moment of state final (a 57-46 loss to Braintree): Facing a double-figure deficit for most of the game, the Grey Ghosts sliced Braintree’s lead to just six midway through the fourth quarter. But the comeback ended there.

Coach Russ Coward: On seniors Hyslip, Hackley and twin sisters Cathryn and Rebecca Sennott: “There’s a reason why we took them as freshman. They’re just fantastic and impossible to replace.”

Unsung heroes: The Sennott sisters provided invaluable intangibles on and off the court.

Future: Losing four senior starters is tough, but starting point guard Karly Bigham will return as a junior.

Central Catholic boys (22-6)
Division 1 state finalist

Key moment of regular season: After a rough 4-3 start, CC’s win over rival Andover on Jan. 10 kick-started a 13-1 stretch over the next four weeks.

Key stat: Senior center Nick Cambio carried the Red Raiders offensively in the last four tournament games by averaging 22 points and 10 rebounds.

Defining moment of state final (a 74-70 loss to Putnam): With Central trailing by three on two different occasions in the closing seconds, senior guard Tyler Nelson misfired on 3-point attempts in back-to-back possessions.

Coach Rick Nault: “[Tyler Nelson is] the best player in the state. With the ball in Tyler’s hands, there’s no one else in the state I’d rather have with the basketball. It would have been a nice storybook ending for him.”

Unsung hero: Aaron Hall , a 6-foot-6 senior forward, was a major force in the paint and had a skilled passing game.

Future: The Raiders will graduate three starters, but retain a talented young backcourt.

Joseph Saade can be reached at