Previewing Wednesday’s state basketball semifinals

 North Andover's John McElroy gets the lose, in third period of play, against Worburn, in the sectional finals at the Tsongas Center, Saturday, March 10, 2018. Mark Lorenz for the Boston Globe.
Mark Lorenz for the Globe
High-scoring junior guard Jake McElroy (right) and North Andover have their eye on a trip to the Division 2 state championship game.

A breakdown of Wednesday’s Division 2 and Division 3 state semifinal games involving EMass schools.

Division 2 boys’ semfinal

North Andover (19-5) vs. Tech Boston (23-1)

at Burlington High (7:30 p.m.)

If any team can stop TechBoston’s spread offense, it may be North Andover.

Largely overlooked as a basketball contender, the Scarlet Knights are coming off their first sectional title since 1975. Junior Jake McElroy leads North Andover offensively and sophomore Kyle Moore is a great shooter, but both are also stellar defensively.

Add lighting-quick junior Darren Watson and rim-protecting center Garrett Murphy and the Knights could make it tough on star seniors Maurice Works and Walter Dew-Hollis .


Yet the Bears of TechBoston simply seemed destined to break through to the state final after routinely standing tall against premier Division 1 competition this season. Shamar Moore brings an element of poise to the team and TechBoston coach Johnny Williams knows how to keep his focused on the task at hand.

Division 3 boys’ semifinal

Watertown (18-6) vs. Burke (24-2)

at Burlington High (7:30 p.m.)

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After a 5-4 start to their season, Steve Harrington’s Raiders are hot at the right time, riding two-time Middlesex MVP John Korte and defensive maven Julio Fulcar back to the state semifinals. More than anything, Watertown’s five starters know their roles. Freshman point guard Gabe Spinelli has showed poise and seniors Wenston Rodriguez and Yoseph Hamad are underrated defenders.

Fulcar will have his hands full with Burke sharpshooter LeVar Williams and Korte will likely battle with Burke’s 6-foot-4-inch versatile forward McCarthy Akinkouye. Burke has a bit more depth with Bryan Desir coming off the bench to supplement Akinkouye’s production down low, so keeping Korte out of foul trouble will be key for the Raiders as they likely look to slow the pace and preserve energy.

Like Harrington, Burke coach Sean Ryan is one of the best in the state, with a tough-minded junior point guard Devante Jamison leading the charge, it will be tough to stop these Bulldogs from moving on to Springfield.

Division 2 girls’ semifinals

Pentucket (23-2) vs. Foxborough (23-1)

at Woburn High (7:30 p.m.)

John McNamara takes pride in the depth of his Pentucket squad. No player on the roster has eye-popping numbers, which is not a surprise because players 1-12 receive valuable minutes on a nightly basis.


Senior guard Ashley Sampson, a two-time Hockomock League MVP, paces Foxborough with a team-leading 18.8 points per game, along with 6.1 rebounds, sharing the team lead with Grace Tamulionis. She is complemented by classmate Lily Sykes and freshman Katelyn Mollica in the backcourt.

Hopkinton (20-4) vs. Northampton (19-3)

at Worcester State (5:30 p.m.)

When it comes to big games, Hopkinton just always seems to get it done. New Hampshire-bound Ivy Gogolin (15.6 points, 11 rebounds, 2.0 steals per game) headlines a Hiller squad that has 12 consecutive wins.

Northampton, the top seed in the West bracket, advanced to the state semifinals with wins over Pittsfield (53-44) and Tantasqua (57-44).

Both programs pride themselves on their work on defensive end, so this likely low-scoring battle should be intriguing.

Division 3 girls’ semifinal

Archbishop Williams (19-3) vs. Bishop Fenwick (15-9)

at Woburn High (5:30 p.m.)

Kent State-bound point guard Asiah Dingle (18.0 points per game) is a defensive menace and offensive orchestrator for defending state champion Archbishop Williams. Surrounded by workhorse Monica Spain and sharpshooter Bridgette O’Reilly, they are tough to stop.


Since a 55-50 Catholic Central loss to St. Mary’s in mid-February, coach Adam DeBaggis’s Fenwick squad has racked up six straight wins.

The Archies swept Fenwick during the regular season, 57-36 and 48-24, but the third meeting promises to be a battle.