Who will win the state high school basketball titles?
Eight state championship basketball games will be held Saturday in Springfield. Here’s a look at all the matchups.
Division 1 boys’ final
Matchup: FRANKLIN (22-2) vs. MANSFIELD (25-2)
Saturday at MassMutual Center, Springfield, 5:45 p.m.
Coaches: Mike Vaughan, 14th year (Mansfield); CJ Neely 4th year, (Franklin)
Franklin starting 5: F Jalen Samuels (Jr.); F Paul Mahon (Sr.); G Jack Rodgers (Sr.); G Matt Elias (Sr.); G Chris Edgehill (So.)
Mansfield starting 5: F Damani Scott (Jr.); F Ryan Otto (Sr.); G John McCoy (Sr.); G Tyler Boulter (Sr.); G Sam Hyland (Sr.)
Player to Watch/Franklin: Chris Edgehill — The sophomore point guard is wise beyond his years, mixing NBA-level three-point range with uncanny passing in the pick-and-roll. Edgehill scored a season-high 31 points in Franklin’s 76-67 victory over TechBoston in late February, the Bears only loss of the season.
Player to Watch/Mansfield: Sam Hyland — A talented soccer player and senior captain on the hardwood, Hyland is tasked with locking down the opposing team’s best guard or wing on a nightly basis. The stocky guard shut down Newton North’s Ethan Wright in the Division 1 South playoffs, holding Wright to 9 points on 4-of-11 shooting.
The lowdown: A matchup of two brilliantly coached, disciplined units may come down to an overall size disparity that favors Mansfield. Hyland will likely see time on Edgehill, and his bulkiness may slow the slimmer sophomore. Forward John McCoy stands 6-foot-4, but can stretch the floor with his 3-point range. The Panthers must get production from junior forward Jalen Samuels, a gritty defender who can fill it up on offense when engaged and aggressive. These Hockomock League foes have faced off twice this year, with each side winning one. If the Panthers defense (50.5 PA/G) can hold against Vaughan’s buzzing Hornets, Franklin can overcome the height disadvantage and take the rubber match.
Division 2 boys’ final
Matchup: TACONIC (17-7) vs. TECHBOSTON (24-1)
Saturday at MassMutual Center, Springfield, 1:15 p.m.
Coaches: Johnny Williams, ninth year (TechBoston); Bill Heaphy, 14th year (Taconic)
Taconic starting 5: G Javier Osorio (Sr.); G Robert McCown (Jr.); G/F Quintin Gittens (Jr.); F Isaac Percy (So.); C Mohammed Sanogo (So.).
TechBoston starting 5: G Walter Dew-Hollis (Sr.); G Lyron Bennett (Sr.); G Javon Pierre (Jr.); G Maurice Works (Sr.); G/F Shamar Moore (Sr.).
Player to Watch/Taconic: Javier Osorio — The only senior on the entire Braves’ roster will need to play more than just the role as floor general to end this season for his team with a state title. Osorio will need to express his veteran leadership at many points of the contest to keep his teammates composed when TechBoston makes the runs they are known to snap off in the blink of an eye. If Taconic can stay composed and keep the game close, forcing the Bears to play more uptight, they will have a shot.
Player to Watch/TechBoston: Walter Dew-Hollis — All season there has so much written about senior guard Maurice Works and his transfer back to the city from Lawrence Academy, and what that has meant for the Bears – and for good reason. But as coach Johnny Williams said many times over the course of the year, the 6-foot Dew-Hollis is the one who makes the wheels of this team move. This was never more evident than in the D2 state semifinal against North Andover where Dew-Hollis scored 20 of his 26 points in the second half when his team needed him the most.
The lowdown: It has been a Cinderella-like run for the young Braves team through the tournament, but they have yet to face any team like TechBoston who has made even some of the top schools in Division 1 look foolish at times this season. The way the Bears can turn defense into offense, and the athleticism of not just Works and Dew-Hollis, but up and down the roster with Lyron Bennett, Shamar Moore and Javon Pierre as well, poses a difficult task for Taconic to overcome. A 21-0 run in their 65-57 win over North Andover last game proves this, and then some. The only way TechBoston loses is if they beat themselves with careless turnovers and silly fouls that forced them to play from behind in the state semifinal.
Division 3 boys’ final
Matchup: EASTHAMPTON (19-5) vs. WATERTOWN (19-6)
Saturday at Blake Arena, Springfield College, 3:30 p.m.
Coaches: Stephen Harrington, 15th year (Watertown); Brian Miller, 18th year (Easthampton)
Easthampton starting 5: G Sopie Pek (Sr.); G Ant Moynihan (Sr.) ; G Zade Jenkins (Sr.) Darnel Whitley (Sr.); F Ronan Mottor Jr. (Jr.)
Watertown starting 5: G Julio Fulcar (Sr.); G Gabe Spinelli (Fr.); F Yoseph Hamad (Jr.); F Wenston Rodriguez (Sr.); F John Korte (Sr.)
Player to Watch/Easthampton: Ant Moynihan — The 5-foot-10-inch shooting guard fits into Easthampton’s up-tempo style perfectly. Moynihan is able to pull up from well behind the 3-point line, draining one deep shot from the UMass logo en route to a game-high 27 points during an 81-74 win over Monument Mountain in the D3 West final. Averaging over 20 points per game this season, the Grinnell commit is a tough cover because of his range and ability to penetrate off the bounce.
Player to Watch/Watertown: John Korte — At 6-foot-6, it’s hard to miss Watertown’s most dynamic player. The two-time reigning Middlesex League MVP, Korte is a formidable defender in the paint and a very tough cover. He can drive past slower forwards, but can also make teams pay for giving him space, as he hit 4-of-6 3-point attempts on his way to a game-high 28 points in Watertown’s 66-61 win over Burke in the state semifinals.
The lowdown: After falling, 48-40, in the state semifinals to eventual champion Hanover last season, this Watertown team seems to be on a mission. The Raiders rarely sub out any members of their starting five, but that group demonstrated great toughness in upsets of St. Mary’s (Lynn) and Burke to reach the state final. Because Easthampton goes deep into its bench and averages nearly 80 points per game this season, Watertown’s depth will be tested once again. Easthampton’s lack of size could play a factor, as 6-foot-4 forward Ronan Mottor Jr. is the only non-guard in the starting lineup, leaving him to contend with Korte down low.
Division 4 boys’ final
Matchup: MAYNARD (22-3) vs. POPE JOHN (23-1)
Saturday at Blake Arena, Springfield College, 11 a.m.
Coaches: Leo Boucher, first year (Pope John); Paul Howes, 21st year (Maynard)
Maynard starting 5: G Corey Olivier (Sr.); G Ian Fowler (Soph.); F Sean Primiano (Soph.); G/F Thomas Smith (Jr.); F Chris Bastien (Sr.)
Pope John starting 5: G Angel Price-Espada (Jr.); G Mekhi Collins (Jr.); F Luis Velasquez (Jr.); F Michael Thompson (Sr.); F Marques Bouyer (Sr.)
Player to Watch/Maynard: Corey Olivier — One of the most dynamic players in the state regardless of division, Olivier broke onto the statewide scene as a sophomore with 20 points in a state finals loss to St. Mary’s, then led Maynard to its first state championship last year. Now the 6-foot-3 point guard will look to lead his Tigers to a repeat.
Player to Watch/Pope John: Michael Thompson — The 6-foot-3 senior forward has a rare combination of length and quickness that is tough for most Div. 4 teams to match up against. Thompson was huge down the stretch in a 70-62 victory over Mashpee in the state semifinals, finishing with 14 points and 12 rebounds.
The lowdown: Pope John has won 21 straight since falling to Div. 2 program O’Bryant on Dec. 14. The former coach at St. Clement, which is now closed, Boucher has played a key role in integrating fellow transfers Thompson and Price-Espada. For Maynard, Olivier works well in tandem with versatile forward Chris Bastien, who will have his hands full down low against Marques Bouyer. Olivier will face off with Price-Espada, and whichever guard wins that matchup could lead their team to glory.
Division 1 girls’ final
Matchup: BRAINTREE (22-3) vs. SPRINGFIELD CENTRAL (21-2)
Saturday at MassMutual Center, 3:30 p.m.
Coaches: Kristen McDonnell, ninth year (Braintree); Erik Maurer, sixth year (Springfield Central).
Braintree starting 5: G Jenna Roche (Sr.); G Barbara Ronca (Jr.); G: Adriana Timberlake (Jr.); F: Mackenzie Moore (Sr.); F: Rachel Tutkus (Sr.).
Springfield Central starting 5: G Jaliena Sanchez (Jr.); G Selenya Gonzalez (Jr.); G Makayla Thompson (Sr.); F Makayla Rudder (Sr.); F Madison Coleman (Sr.)
Player to Watch/Braintree: Jeniyah Jones — The junior guard/forward is the Wamps X-factor, with her ability to defend multiple positions and provide a scoring punch off the bench. She recorded 14 points, 10 rebounds and seven steals in the state semifinal and at just 5-6 is an under the radar do-it-all type player.
Player to Watch/Springfield Central: Jaliena Sanchez — Netting 21 points in the 60-56 state semifinal win over Watchusett, Sanchez scored what would be the eventual game winning basket, tacking on a free-throw to clinch the state championship berth. The tenacious guard added many other pivotal baskets down the stretch.
The lowdown: These squads will meet for the third time in three years, with Braintree winning the first time 64-43 in 2015 and Springfield Central winning 61-45 last year. It all starts with defense. Braintree forced 26 turnovers in its 65-41 win over Central Catholic in the state semifinal. Central’s got consecutive wins over the Wamps, defeating Braintree 63-46 in the season opener. The backcourt of Jaliena Sanchez and Selenya Gonzalez is a lethal one for Springfield Central and matching up with defensive standouts Barbara Ronca and Jenna Roche should be an intriguing matchup.
Division 2 girls’ final
Matchup: FOXBOROUGH (24-1) vs. HOPKINTON (21-4)
Saturday at MassMutual Center, 11 a.m.
Coaches: Mike Grecco, third year (Hopkinton); Lisa Downs, seventh year (Foxborough)
Foxborough starting 5: G Ashley Sampson (Sr.), G Lily Sykes (Sr.), Katelyn Mollica (Fr.), F Abigail Hassman (Soph.), F Grace Tamulionis (Sr.)
Hopkinton starting 5: F Ivy Gogolin (Sr.), F Regan Keavany (Sr.), G Marissa Prall (Sr.), G. Calli Korbey (Sr.), G Olivia Gladu (Soph.).
Player to Watch/Foxborough: Ashley Sampson — The Adelphi-bound guard has consistently poured in buckets for Foxborough all season, giving her squad clutch performances when they’ve needed it most. In the Division 2 semifinal against Pentucket, she led Foxborough from a 20-point deficit, hitting a game tying layup at the end of regulation and scoring 14 of her team’s 15 points in overtime.
Player to Watch/Hopkinton: Ivy Gogolin — Hopkinton’s star forward does it all for the Hillers. With over 1,000 career points, the senior can score with ease, snatches rebounds and has the ability to use her size to alter shots in the paint. She scored 14 points and grabbed 13 boards in the Hillers Division 2 semifinal win over Northampton.
The lowdown: Foxborough has been on a dominant run over the last two months, winning their last 13 games by an average of 36 points. Over the same period their defense has been nearly impenetrable, allowing over 50 points just once, in their recent win over Northampton. For Hopkinton to compete, Gogolin and senior forward Regan Keavany are going to need to play like they did on Wednesday, where they combined for 38 points.
Division 3 girls’ final
Matchup: ARCHBISHOP WILLIAMS (20-3) vs. HAMPSHIRE REGIONAL (21-2)
Saturday at Blake Arena, Springfield College, 5:45 p.m.
Coaches: Matt Mahoney, fourth year (Archbishop Williams); Amy Cyr, third year (Hampshire)
Archbishop Williams starting 5: G Asiah Dingle (Sr.), G Erica Silvia (Sr.), F Jess Knight (Soph.), F Monica Spain (Jr.), F Bridgette O’Reilly (Jr.).
Hampshire Regional starting 5: G Katelyn Pickunka (Sr.), F Caroline O’Connor (Sr.), G Lila Labrie (Fr.), F Kyleen Labrecque (Jr.), G Maddie Pond (Fr.).
Player to Watch/Archbishop Williams: Player to watch/Archbishop Williams: Asiah Dingle — There’s not much that hasn’t been said about the Bishops’ star. The Kent State-bound point guard is the key to everything Archbishop Williams does on both ends of the court. Her speed gives the Archies’ ample fastbreak opportunities, and her quick hands helps create havoc on the defensive end. As head coach Matt Mahoney said, after her 32-point performance against Bishop Fenwick, “Thank God for Asiah.”
Player to Watch/Hamphire Regional: Katelyn Pickunka — If there’s one thing Katelyn Pickunka does well, it’s put the ball in the hole. She’s obliterated every defense she’s faced in the tournament so far, dropping 28 points with 16 boards in the semifinal against Sutton, 20 points and 20 boards versus Wahconah, 26 points against Greenfield, and 32 points in their first round win over Palmer.
The lowdown: Looking for their third title in the last four years, and fourth since 2013, Archbishop Williams heads into Saturday as the heavy favorites against Hampshire. The Bishops have played one of the toughest schedules in the state all season, running through a slate that featured two games against Cathedral and a matchup with Newton South. If Dingle plays as she is capable, Archies will be tough to stop. But, Pickunka has proven over the last three weeks that she has the potential to catch fire at any time. If she’s able to get help from either Caroline O’Connor or Maddie Ponds, they could have a chance.
Division 4 girls’ final
Matchup: COYLE & CASSIDY (22-3) vs. MONSON (17-7)
Saturday at Blake Arena, Springfield College, 1:15 p.m.
Coaches: Michael O’Brien, 15th year (Coyle & Cassidy); Timothy Pascale, second year (Monson).
Coyle & Cassidy starting 5: G Kaylee Haynes (Jr.); G Stacie Leonard (Sr.); G Rachael Johnson (Jr.); F Samantha Hourihan (Jr.); F Kassidy Fields (Jr.).
Monson starting 5: G Shannon Jalbert (Sr); G Lily Fabian (Sr.); F Sydnie Devries (Fr.); F Kelsey Duggan (So.); F Kaitlyn Santos (Jr.).
Player to Watch/Coyle & Cassidy: Kaylee Haynes — A dynamic point guard, Haynes can fill it up from outside and also is an adept slasher. The 5-7 lefty is as fearless as they come, never afraid to get on the floor for loose balls or mix it up with bigger defenders.
Player to Watch/Monson: Kaitlyn Santos — In a game full of junior standouts, Santos may be the most polished. She can handle and also provide a punch down low, and led Monson with 15 points in its 51-49 win over Maynard to clinch the spot in the championship game.
The lowdown: Of the 10 players expected to start, just three are seniors. Much of this game will rest on the laurels of coaching. The biggest stage may be nerve wracking to some, or bring out the best in others. Coyle & Cassidy played a tough schedule all year and is playing good team basketball in the tournament. Monson rides a six-game winning streak into the state championship, with just one game being decided by a single possession; the win over Maynard.
Compiled by Tyler Blint-Welsh, Karl Capen, Greg Levinsky, Owen Pence, and Nate Weitzer.