TAUNTON — Top-seeded Bishop Connolly outscored No. 6-seed Bristol-Plymouth, 23-8, in the third quarter to lead by as many as 30 points, and surged past the Craftsmen, 74-52, to defend their Division 4 South title Friday. The Cougars (20-0) entered the tournament a heavy favorite to be the last team standing and ran through their Division 4 schedule undefeated.
“I told them, ‘we better come out on fire in the first four minutes of the third quarter,’ ” Cougars coach Matt Coute said. “I told them they better not make me take the first timeout of the third quarter. We didn’t want to give that team motivation.”
While zone full-court pressure and Bishop Connolly’s length on the perimeter fueled the Cougars to their huge third quarter, junior guard Dylan Holland scored 13 of his game-high 27 points in the first eight minutes of the second half. Holland led a sound Bishop Connolly offense that saw all five starters score at least 8 points.
“He was a kid that probably played 10, 12 minutes a game last year,” Coute said of Holland. “I saw how he was working on his game in the offseason. I was telling everyone in the preseason this Holland kid was going to step up. The bright lights don’t bother him.”
Stepping confidently into his new role, Holland drilled five 3-pointers.
“I have a lot bigger role this year than last year,” Holland said. “Shots were falling tonight and I’m just going to keep letting it fly like I always do. Hopefully they keep going down like they have been lately.”
Junior center Konrad Bradbury and junior forward Brian Quinn each added 12 points and 8 rebounds, senior guard John Goncalo had 11 points, 6 assists, and 3 rebounds, and senior forward Jack Santoro flirted with a triple-double, totaling 8 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 assists.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better turnout,” Santoro said. “We came out really strong. We had a couple lapses here and there, but we really closed out the game strong. If we stick to the game plan, nobody can beat us.”
Bristol-Plymouth senior guard Jake Gorman had 15 points, junior forward Matt MacDermid added 14 points and five rebounds and senior guard Matt Cassese finished with 12 points and three rebounds.
The Cougars advance to TD Garden to play St. Clement on Monday in the state semifinals.