SPRINGFIELD — Over the course of the season for the Cambridge Rindge & Latin boys’ basketball team, the word “legacy” was often brought up.
On Saturday at MassMutual Center, the Falcons solidified their place in the program’s rich basketball history by defeating Franklin, 70-43, to win their second straight Division 1 state championship. Cambridge (24-0) completed its perfect season as senior Dimon Carrigan racked up 21 points, 9 rebounds, and 8 blocks.
This is Cambridge’s first back-to-back state championships since the school won three straight (1979-1981) with future Basketball Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing.
“This right here is just a great accomplishment by all of us,” said Carrigan. “I definitely think we left a name for ourselves this year and last year.”
From the start, the 6-foot-8-inch Carrigan made his presence known.
Cambridge jumped out to a 17-12 lead at the end of the first quarter as Carrigan collected five blocks, forcing Franklin players to think twice before they drove into the paint.
With 2:41 left in the second quarter, Carrigan recorded his seventh block, this one leading to a layup by senior Daniel Rymer (9 points) off a beautiful feed from junior Aiden Keefer.
At halftime the Falcons had opened up a 31-18 lead.
Franklin (22-3) never could find any offensive rhythm as Cambridge applied full-court pressure to force careless turnovers and mistakes.
Franklin freshman guard Chris Edgehill (12 points) tried his best to help change the course of the game, but with junior Connor Peterson getting in foul trouble early it seemed it wasn’t going to be the Panthers’ night.
“I told [the team], ‘There is nothing to hang your heads about. You have gone farther than any Franklin team in history,’ ” said coach CJ Neely. “There is a lot to be proud of and unfortunately we couldn’t get it done tonight.”
A beautiful finish from Cambridge senior Jakigh Dottin pushed the lead out to 20 points (43-23) with four minutes left in the third quarter, and the Falcons kept the pressure on.
Leading 63-36 with 2:45 left, Cambridge coach Lance Dottin sent in the reserves for seniors Jakigh Dottin, Carrigan, Rymer, and Kareem Octavien. The Cambridge fans rose to their feet as the seniors had left their names in the history books.
“It’s a difficult test nowadays to talk about the past and have the kids really understand it and respect it, but I think these guys embraced it,” said Coach Dottin.
“Our objective is to compete every single possession, and when you can get to that level you will become a champion.”