Here’s how the teams in the state boys’ basketball finals match up
The MIAA Division 1, 2, 3, and 4 boys’ basketball state finals will be held Saturday in Worcester. Here’s a look at all the matchups.
Matchup: LYNN ENGLISH (22-2) vs. SPRINGFIELD PUTNAM (20-2)
Saturday at Holy Cross, Worcester, 6:45 p.m.
Coaches: Antonio Anderson, second year (Lynn English); William Shepard, 10th year (Putnam).
Lynn English starting 5: F Alonzo Linton (Sr.); F Justin Fitzpatrick (Jr.); G Jarnel Guzman (Jr.), G Mason Jean-Baptiste (Jr.), G Jack Rodriguez (So.).
Putnam starting 5: C Sadiq Harmon (Jr.); F Taelon Martin (Sr.); F Cecil Villa (Sr.); G Maickel DeJesus (Sr.); G Rudy Hytmiah (Sr.)
Player to Watch/Lynn English: Alonzo Linton, a 6-foot-5 senior, has been a force in the paint and presents mismatch problems for most teams because of his length and quickness. Linton had 27 points and 13 rebounds in a D1 North quarterfinals win over Lawrence, 14 points in the sectional semifinals against Andover, 17 points and 17 rebounds in the sectional final against Central Catholic, and 20 points in the state semis vs. Newton North. The smooth forward is averaging 17 points and 9 rebounds per game, while providing a consistent scoring threat on the interior to complement the Bulldogs spread style.
Player to Watch/Putnam: Taelon Martin, a 6-foot-3 wing with explosive leaping ability and an impressive wingspan, has offers from UConn, UMass, Penn State, and other Division I schools. He played valuable minutes his freshman and sophomore years at Putnam, then transferred to the Masters School (Conn.) for his junior season. Martin transferred back to Putnam his senior year, and leads Putnam in scoring (17.9 ppg.) this season. “I felt [Masters] wasn’t the right fit for [Martin],” coach William Shepard said. “Putnam was his home, and he realized that, and he came back to play. To come back, and people opened their arms to him, he needed that structure. And he’s paying us back, because he’s playing his butt off. The sky is the limit for him, he just has to stay focused.”
The lowdown: Putnam returns to the state final after a brief lull. The Beavers won back-to-back state titles in 2013 and 2014 before falling, 80-78, to Catholic Memorial in the 2015 state final at Worcester’s DCU Center. Shepard has the personnel to lock down English’s front line. Putnam is allowing just 49.3 points per game over its last 10 games. The Bulldogs, who averaged 82.7 points during the regular season, are seeking the program’s first state title since 1939. If Linton is unable to find offense in the paint, Guzman, Rodriguez, and Fitzpatrick will have to stretch the Putnam defense by hitting shots from the perimeter.
Matchup: TECHBOSTON (23-2) vs. TACONIC (20-3)
Saturday at WPI, 2:15 p.m.
Coaches: Johnny Williams, 10th year (TechBoston); Bill Heaphy, 15th year (Taconic)
Taconic starting 5: C Mohammed Sanogo (Jr.); F Isaac Percy (Jr.); G Robert McCown (Sr.); G Quincy Davis (Sr.); G Quentin Gittens (Sr.);
TechBoston starting 5: F Rich Burton (Sr.), G Lyron Bennett (Sr.), G Shamar Browder (Jr.), G Alan Nunez (Jr.), G Javon Pierre (Sr.)
Player to Watch/Taconic: Isaac Percy. Following Taconic’s 81-66 victory over Westborough on Wednesday night in the semifinals, the fire alarm was set off at American International College. Coach Bill Heaphy joked with reporters that the cause was Percy’s 39-point performance, his second straight game with more than 30 points. Percy has been Taconic’s most prolific offensive weapon, averaging 17.6 points per game.
Player to Watch/TechBoston: Shamar Browder. The junior guard showcased how important he can be for TechBoston in its semifinal win over Belmont. Browder used his quickness and ability to finish tough shots around the rim to score 18 of the Bears’ first 20 points in the second half. Browder finished with a game-high 30 points in a 61-53 win. There might not be a player in the state who can stay with Browder off the dribble and Taconic may be in trouble if he gets going.
The lowdown: In a rematch of last year’s Division 2 final, which TechBoston won, 78-40, this one could prove to be tighter. Taconic has won 19 consecutive games after a 1-3 start, and the growth of the four returning starters from last season’s run to the final has been immense. However, TechBoston aspires not to just become a great team, but, as coach Johnny Williams described after the 61-53 semifinals victory over Belmont, a great program. Back-to-back state championships could be the beginning.
Matchup: BISHOP STANG (20-5) vs. DOVER-SHERBORN (20-5)
Saturday at Holy Cross, Worcester, 12 p.m.
Coaches: Colbey Santos, fifth year (Bishop Stang); Rick Grady, 12th year (Dover-Sherborn)
Bishop Stang starting 5: F Eric Camacho (Sr.), F Declan Markey (So.), G Damien Perry (Sr.), G Justin Lopes (Sr.), G Joey Silvia (Jr.)
Dover-Sherborn starting 5: C Alex Waugh (Sr.); F Brett Stark (Sr.), G Cam Raycroft (Sr.), G John Muckstadt (Sr.), G Evan Skeary (So.)
Player to Watch/Bishop Stang: Damien Perry. Bishop Stang’s senior leader plays with confidence, which can be expected from a four-year starter who was a key member of Stang’s 2015 state championship run as a freshman. Perry is averaging 23.5 points, 8 assists, 7 rebounds, and 3 steals despite facing box-and-one coverage frequently. He scored 21 points in a sectional semifinal win over Norwell, scored a team-high 23 points in the sectional final against Burke, and produced 19 points in a 55-51 win over Dracut in the state semifinals.
Player to Watch/Dover-Sherborn: Brett Stark. The steady forward provided 19 points and 14 rebounds to lead Dover-Sherborn in a 50-36 victory over Hudson, its first sectional title since 1994. The 6-foot-4, 180-pound senior had a game-high 24 points in a 53-36 state semifinal win over Sabis. Stark gets his points by attacking the basket and generating 3-point play opportunities. His mid-range jump shot has improved this year, making him a tough cover for any opponent.
The lowdown: Much like Bishop Stang’s opponent in the state semifinals (Dracut), Dover-Sherborn is on an unlikely run. The Raiders were the sixth seed in the D3 Central bracket, but won three games before upsetting top-seeded Hudson in the sectional final. Then D-S dispatched an impressive Sabis team and can now aim to secure the program’s first state title since 1981. Dover-Sherborn’s defense has been impressive in the postseason, allowing 40 points or fewer in all five wins. But D-S may have a tough time containing Perry and the Stang offense. Along with Lopes, Perry does a great job of finding forwards Eric Camacho and Declan Markey open down low when the defense collapses on him. Senior Isaiah Rodrigues can also provide scoring and valuable 3-point shooting off the bench for Stang.
Matchup: ABINGTON (20-7) vs. WORCESTER TECH (23-1)
Saturday at WPI, 6:45 p.m.
Coaches: Peter Serino, fifth year (Abington), Sean Lynch, 11th year (Worcester Tech)
Abington starting 5: F Cam Curney (Jr.); G Bryson Andrews (Sr.); G Will Klein (Jr.); G Colby Augusta (Jr.); G Matt Maguire (So.)
Worcester Tech starting 5: C Brendon Hamilton (Sr.); G Zaire Peart (Sr.); G Andrew Enlow (Jr.); G Deron Kumah (Jr.); G Jose Bonilla (Sr.)
Player to Watch/Abington: Bryson Andrews. The Abington offense flows through Andrews. The program’s career scoring leader and the South Shore League’s MVP, Andrews scored 30 points in a dramatic 72-71 comeback win over Pope John in the state semifinals. The senior guard plays at his own pace and can score both inside and outside with a smooth mid-range jumper and great body control. Andrews does more than just score (23.6 ppg) with averages of 3.6 steals, 6.2 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game. He won’t hesitate to find the open man when double teams come his way, but can score if left in one-on-one situations.
Player to Watch/Worcester Tech: Brendon Hamilton. In a modern age that places emphasis on guard play above all else, Worcester Tech’s 6-foot-3 center is a throwback. Hamilton can dominate the paint on both ends with his rebounding and shot-blocking ability. Along with Peart, Bonilla, and Enlow, Hamilton (15 points, 14 rebounds per game) was named a Colonial Athletic League all-star and helped Worcester Tech to a second consecutive share of the CAL with Assabet Valley.
The lowdown: After being eliminated by Maynard three straight seasons in the D4 Central semifinals or final, Worcester Tech is in the state final for the first time since 1989, when the school was called Worcester Vocational-Technical High. Abington is also playing for the first state title in program history and is making its first appearance in the state championship game. Abington pulled off a comeback in the state semifinals after trailing defending state champion Pope John by 9 points with 1:18 remaining. Maguire and Klein came up huge down the stretch and have stepped up as secondary scoring options behind Andrews. Serino said “[Worcester Tech’s] guards are very quick and explosive, so we need to contain them in transition, as well as their penetration in the halfcourt.”