WORCESTER — Mansfield stood along the foul line at the DCU Center after the Division 1 state championship game as cheers filled the arena. It was the Putnam crowd celebrating as the Beavers survived a rally, knocking out Mansfield, 50-48, in an overtime shootout to win the first state title in school history.
Down by 3 with 7.5 seconds left in the fourth quarter, sophomore Ryan Boulter (14 points) was fouled as he was shooting a 3-pointer from the corner, sending him to the line for three free throws.
The confident 6-foot-3-inch guard stepped up to the line and knocked down all three free throws to tie the score at 42 with five seconds left. Putnam didn’t score on its last possession, sending the game to overtime.
“My teammates always have confidence in me shooting and I’m a good free throw shooter,” Boulter said. “We just came up short, but next year we should have a good team and maybe be back in this position.”
Boulter came up huge again in overtime, draining a 3-pointer to put Mansfield ahead, 45-44. But Kayjuan Bynum (15 points) hit a pair of free throws and Ty Nichols (8 points) raced to the basket for a layup, putting Putnam up by 3 once again.
How would Mansfield answer? Boulter, of course. The smooth-shooting sophomore drilled another 3-pointer to tie it at 48-48 with 19.9 seconds left in overtime.
On the ensuing possession, Nichols drew a foul and made the two free throws. Rocky DeAndrade (10 points) missed Mansfield’s final shot as time expired.
“It was a great run, great team,” said Mansfield coach Mike Vaughn. “Hats off to Putnam with their defensive effort. Their coach was not kidding about their ability to defend. They did a great job.”
Although Mansfield led by 7 at the half, and held Putnam to 6 points in the second quarter, Putnam played relentless defense in the third quarter, limiting Mansfield to 7 points.
Tied, 31-31, at the end of the third, the stage was set for a dramatic finish. Putnam went on a 5-0 run to go ahead, 38-33.
Michael Boen, who finished with 6 points, answered with a layup and was fouled, completing a 3-point play to make it 40-36 with 2:09 left.
Putnam continued to play aggressive defense down the stretch and forced turnovers, except it couldn’t generate scoring opportunities to extend the lead.
Boen put Mansfield right back in it with a 3-pointer, making it 40-39 with 35.7 seconds remaining. The Hornets rallied to force the overtime, but fell short.
“Defensively, we didn’t do too many things differently,” said Putnam coach William Shepard. “I have to give credit to Mansfield. Their half-court stuff was excellent, they found each other, and they battled.”
Despite the loss, the Hornets (25-3) are only graduating five seniors and should be motivated to get back to the DCU Center next season.
“It was definitely a classic state championship game the way momentum shifted,” said DeAndrade.
“The loss definitely makes us want it more and makes us hungrier to come back next year,’’ he added.