24 Mar 19
The names change but the results remain the same for Braintree.
The Wamps continue to add chapters to their dynasty, rolling over a talented Springfield Central squad to successfully defend their Division 1 state title. This might not have been the talented Herlihy-Russell-Reagan teams of yesteryear, but this Braintree squad was mentally tough and needed to be, especially in the semifinal comeback win over Central Catholic.
Another mentally tough team was Pentucket. John McNamara’s team always play good defense and that was the primer for the Sachems’ run to their second Div. 2 state title.
A pair of Catholic Central Large teams had their postseason moments in the sun. Cathedral avenged a sectional final loss of a year ago, running through six opponents by an average of 31 points en route to the Div. 4 state title. St. Mary’s knocked off Archbishop Williams, after losing to the Bishops twice during the regular season, to get to the Div. 3 finals.
On the boys side, Lynn English had a glorious tournament to its first Div. 1 state title since 1939. TechBoston successfully defended its Div. 2 state title holding off New Mission and Belmont on their way to Worcester.
Dover-Sherborn relied on its defense to work its way through the bracket. The Raiders put it all together in the Div. 3 state final against Bishop Stang to win their first title since 1981. Abington had a memorable run to the Div. 4 final, rallying from a nine-point deficit in the final 70 seconds to stun defending champion Pope John in the state semifinals.
Here is one last look at the 2018-2019 season.
BOSTON, MA – MARCH 13: Dracut’s Mitchell Monette, right, shoots the ball as Bishop Stang’s Eric Camacho defends during the first quarter of their Division 3 basketball state semifinal at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts on March 13, 2019. (Staff Photo By Christopher Evans/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)
SIX MEMORABLE POSTSEASON GAMES
Dracut 63, St. Mary’s 59: St. Mary’s was the clear-cut favorite in Div. 3, but no one gave Dracut the script. Mitch Monette hit a game-winning 3-pointer with 15 seconds left to give the Middies a stunning upset victory in a North sectional semifinal.
Newton North 66, Brookline 63: Brookline swept the regular-season meeting between the rivals, but the Tigers won the game that mattered most. Ezra Pemstein’s 3-pointer keyed an 11-0 run as Newton North rallied from a double-digit deficit to advance to the Div. 1 South final.
Abington 72, Pope John 71: Trailing by nine with 1:20 left in a Div. 4 state semifinal, the Green Wave staged a comeback for the ages. Will Klein capped off a game-ending 13-3 run by knocking down a 3-pointer with one second left to give Abington the win.
Braintree 39, Central Catholic 38: The Wamps’ hopes of a repeat Div. 1 state title seemed out of reach as they trailed 37-24 with 3:30 left. Ariana Fay helped bring a dormant offense to life with a pair of treys and Lily Adams converted a layup in the waning moment to finish off a 15-1 run, sending Braintree to the state finals.
Franklin 61, Wachusett 60: Megan O’Connell was in the right place at the right time and helped make history. Her putback at the buzzer gave the Panthers their first-ever Div. 1 Central title.
Cathedral 63, Coyle-Cassidy 48: The eagerly-anticipated Div. 4 South semifinal turned out to be another coming out party for the Panthers, which avenged a loss to the Warriors a year earlier.
FINAL TOP 10
1. Lynn English (23-2): Bulldogs put it all together in the postseason to win their first state since 1939.
2. Central Catholic (21-4): Raiders were the only team to seriously challenge Lynn English in the postseason.
3. TechBoston (22-2): The return of Lyron Bennett coupled with Shamar Browder and Alan Nunez gave the Bears an unstoppable trio en route to the Div. 2 state title.
4. Acton-Boxboro (21-3): Colonials proved to be the best in Div. 1 Central and took Putnam to the wire in the state semifinals.
5. Belmont (22-2): Marauders were one of the more entertaining teams to watch, relying on a talented starting unit to reach the Div. 2 state semifinals.
6. Lowell (21-4): Killer backcourt tandem of Nate Siow and Carlos Nunez will be back for another season.
7. Newton North (21-6): Fantastic job by Paul Connolly to navigate his team to a Div. 1 South title.
8. Brookline (21-3): Big Three of Chris Camille, Mark Barrett and Matt Price guided the Warriors to the Bay State Conference title and a spot in the Div. 1 South semifinals.
9. Mansfield (19-5): Another solid season for the Hornets, who reached the Div. 1 South finals.
10. St. Mary’s (22-3): Stunning loss to Dracut in the Div. 3 North semifinals shouldn’t take away from the season the Spartans had.
1. Braintree (22-4): The dynasty continues as the Wamps bring another Div. 1 state title back to Braintree.
2. Cathedral (22-2): The Panthers spoke all year long of returning to the top of the Div. 4 heap and they did just that.
3. Central Catholic (20-6): Raiders came oh-so-close to knocking off Braintree in the state semifinals.
4. Coyle-Cassidy (21-2): Talented team who had the misfortune of being in the same bracket as Cathedral.
5. Franklin (21-3): Thanks to the brilliant play of Ali Brigham and clutch efforts from Megan O’Connell to get to the state semifinals.
6. Pentucket (24-3): After a devastating state semifinal loss last year, the Sachems used that as motivation to win the Div. 2 state title.
7. Needham (17-6): Defense was the Rockets’ calling card as they relied on it to get to the Div. 1 South final.
8. Bridgewater-Raynham (21-2): Stunning loss to Needham in the semifinal should serve as incentive for next season.
9. Belmont (22-2): Once again, a strong run to the Div. 1 North final ended at the hands of Central Catholic.
10. Wellesley (18-4): Raiders had some quality wins down the stretch, defeating both Braintree and Natick.
PLAYERS TO WATCH NEXT YEAR
Will Batchelor (St. John’s Prep)
Shamar Browder (TechBoston)
Shea Doherty (Acton-Boxboro)
Will Dorion (Needham)
Chris Edgehill (Franklin)
Jarnel Guzman (Lynn English)
Kurtis Henderson (Catholic Memorial)
Jack Poirier (Scituate)
Juan Salas (New Mission)
Nate Siow (Lowell)
Khai Smith (Cambridge)
Isaiah Taylor (Lowell Catholic)
Kori Barach (Concord-Carlisle)
Shay Bollin (Bridgewater-Raynham)
Ali Brigham (Franklin)
Mackenzie Daleba (Cathedral)
Katie Galligan (Pembroke)
Angelica Hurley (Pentucket)
Jess Knight (Archbishop Williams)
Olivia Matela (St. Mary’s)
Brenna McDonald (Natick)
Kiara McIntyre (Needham)
Oluchi Okanawa (Peabody)
Sophia Vital (Cambridge)
FINAL OBSERVATIONS AND CRITICISMS
WAIVERS: There is no question that the MIAA absolutely, positively has to do something about its policy regarding waivers. Far too many players, several of the impact variety, are being granted fifth-year waivers along with waivers for what could be called suspect reasons.
The MIAA rule book clearly spells out the criteria.
Rule 59.1 states that a student shall be eligible for interscholastic competition for no more than four consecutive years after initially entering Grade 9. This limitation shall apply without regard to actual participation or attempt to participate.
Rule 59.2 states in no case may a student be eligible to participate in more than four of each of the three annual athletic seasons.
If the rules are etched in stone, why is the MIAA allowing exceptions to take place? In my opinion, this is the single biggest mistake the organization makes. They make rules and don’t adhere to them and that’s why they get themselves into trouble.
PREDETERMINED SITES: I understand why the MIAA has resorted to this, but there has to be some common sense involved. The fact that a second-seeded Somerville team was forced to play No. 6 North Andover at a predetermined site which turned out to be North Andover High was wrong. Why not play the game at another venue like Burlington or Woburn, both which are clearly capable of hosting?
It’s common sense folks. You’re not being asked to split the atom here.
CHANGING THE GARDEN FORMAT: It’s time for the MIAA to do away with the idea of having boys and girls playing together on the same night at the Garden. The old format of having the boys semifinals played on one night and the girls on another night placated many fans who prefer watching one gender over the other.
More than one person has told me that they won’t go the games now because they don’t like seeing the boys play or the girls play. I’d like to see the attendance figures since they mixed the games up because it sure seems like the crowds are smaller in recent years.
ASSIGNING REFEREES: The latest buzzword in MIAA circles is transparency. Maybe we need to get some of that when it comes to seeing how postseason officiating assignments are divvied out.
As several coaches have commented, some to me privately, others via social media, there seems to be a perception that the good old boy network is alive and well when it comes to certain officials getting games.
Let’s try a novel approach and give the top games to the top officials.