By Joe Dicruttalo (@JDicruttalo)
8th Grade Championship - Westboro 66, Brookline 59
The stage was set for a great match up in the finals between Brookline and Westboro. Brookline was undefeated throughout the regular season and advanced to the finals with strong showings versus Sharon, Wellesely and Arlington.
Westboro played a great season with only one loss in December to Brookline. Westboro had a great tournament with double digit wins over Southboro and Canton, and an impressive win in the semi- finals over Newton. The top two teams in the 8th Grade Division 1 throughout the year met up for what could have been the best game of the 2015 season.
With a couple hundred fans looking on, Brookline and Westboro put on a show all night, going back and forth in a very high level, competitive basketball game. From the opening possession Mike Doherty would look to attack the rim and was very successful doing so. Brother Matt picked his spots as well, and the twin brothers combined for 10 of Westboro's 14 first quarter points. The Doherty brothers would outscore Brookline 8-0 to start the game, and forced them into an early time out. After the first quarter Westboro would hold a 14-12 advantage over last year's Metrowest champions.
In the second quarter, Brookline would look to 6'3’ power forward Chris Camille to keep them in the game. Camille attacked the rim, controlled the glass and finished with ten points in the second quarter. Westboro, trailing by six, relied on its well-rounded attack and was able to answer the impressive 2nd quarter run of Brookline with a strong counter attack of their own. Dominic Caspariello and Jake Hughes would start warming up and provided big shots for Westboro, ending the quarter on a Westboro 7-0 run. Westboro took a narrow lead into halftime, 27 to 29.
The second half began where the first half left off with a back and forth battle. Brookline's Christian Andrews was a major factor throughout the second half on both the offense and defensive end. Andrews caused several turnovers as Brookline picked up its half court pressure, and forced Westboro into poor decisions. Brookline gained momentum throughout the remainder of the third quarter taking a 44-43 lead into the final frame.
Down the stretch Westboro would again rely on their well balanced attack as Caspariello would score 10 4th quarter points and Jack Hughes hit a big 3-pointer to put Westboro up by five with just under two minutes to play. Westboro would force Brookline to foul them as they held the ball with two minutes to play, and would hit eight free throws out of ten down the stretch.
Behind strong free throw shooting and great team defense down the stretch, Westboro would hold on to defeat the defending Metrowest champions, 66-59.
Dominic Caspariello led Westboro with a team high 18 points. Matt Doherty (17), Mike Doherty (14) and Jake Hughes (13)all notched double digits in the win.
It would take a total team effort to defeat such a talented Brookline team who has only lost one time in the past two seasons. Brookline's Chris Camille finished with a game high 20 points and Christian Andrews finished with 14 points (10 in the second half), and Mark Barrett added 11.
Both teams competed hard from start to finish, and it was very good to see their hard work and season long commitment to excellence result in both teams squaring off for the division- 1 8th grade title. Congratulations to both teams on a great season and a great Metrowest career.
Matt and Mike Doherty (Westboro) - Having watched every game of the D1 State tournament it was clear to see these two young men were without a doubt the most valuable players in the tournament. Mike and Matt scored 15 & 16 points per game, respectively, to go along with impressive rebounding numbers. With continuous strong takes to the hoop, and a very powerful pull-up game, the brothers were able to control each and every game they played in the tournament. One of the best things about both young men was their commitment to their teammates, their continuous hard work and their overall toughness. Playing through injuries, and doing whatever it took to help lead their team to a championship - these two were nothing short of special throughout their playoff run.
Alex Stoddard (Wellesely) - If hitting the game winning runner in a first round upset over West Roxbury wasn't enough, Alex would finish the tournament with 16 points per game and 6 assists per game. He was able to rally his team in an impressive second half run against Brookline in the Elite 8, cutting what was a 16 point lead to two with just a couple minutes to play. This 6'2 Guard has a lot of poise and skill, and was a big reason his team was only a few possessions away from a Final 4 appearance.
Jake Erlich (Easton) - One of the most competitive athletes throughout the tournament, Jake led his teams in points and rebounds and was also a force to be reckoned with on the defensive end. He drew the task of guarding Mansfield's Khristian Connor in Easton's opening round game, then was asked to cover Arlington's big man James Gascoigne in the Elite 8. He held each player to their lowest totals of the tournament. He was able to get to the free throw line at will throughout the tournament as well as knock down his go-to 15-footer game after game.
James Gascoigne (Arlington) - Very skilled athlete who has excellent body control and toughness around the basket. He can finish at the rim and looks to be balanced more than any other big body around. He has soft hands, good vertical jumping ability and is a strong competitor. He was a crucial factor in the win over Easton. He played very hard in a tough match up versus Brookline despite coming up short to last the defending champs.
Chris Camille (Brookline) - A 6'3 power forward was game in and game out one of the most impressive athletes in the field. He sat out in the opening round versus Sharon, but he was able to bounce back strong in their next three match-ups throughout the tournament. He played very big down the stretch versus Wellesely and was his team’s leading scorer in all three games he played. He scored a game high 20 points in the championship game, and was in double digit rebounds throughout the playoffs as well.
By Joe Dicruttalo (@JDicruttalo)
#1 Brookline vs. #9 Wellesley
Brookline, being last year’s Metrowest Champs, have a large target on their back. Brookline jumped out to an early lead over Wellesley going into the half up 29 to 13. Chris Camille (21 pts) and Christian Andrews (13pts) of Brookline combined for 19 first half points.
The second half was a completely different game as Wellesley looked to lead guard Alex Stoddard (15 pts) to take charge in the comeback effort. Alex scored 12 of his team high 15 points in the second half, and was able to assist Malik Sinclair (12 pts) on several long range shots. These two helped Wellesley cut the Brookline lead to just four points with less than two minutes to play. Brookline would then look to their big man Chris Camille who proved to be too much for Wellesley to handle on the inside. Camille scored basket after basket down the stretch and helped Brookline advance to the Final 4. Final Score: Brookline 56, Wellesley 46
#2 Westborough vs #10 Canton
Westborough really struggled throughout the first half as Canton’s size and length forced them into bad shots. Canton would take a 19-15 lead into the halftime while Canton Varsity Coach Ryan Gordy looked on.
In the second half, Matt and Mike Doherty turned up the tempo of the game and really got Westborough out into transition. Matt Doherty (10 pts) was able to find Dom Caspariello (13pts) leaking out in transition and connected with him for easy baskets throughout the 3rd and 4th quarter. Mike Doherty lead his team in scoring with 16 points but was also a pest on defense really making Canton’s Devon Foster work for every bucket and holding him to a season low six points. Final Score: Westborough 51, Canton 31
#3 Belmont vs. #6 Newton
Newton basketball is known around Massachusetts as a team that you do not want to see in the playoffs. From the success of their high school programs all the way down to the youth program, these kids are tough to beat! Trailing by nine, 33-24, going into the half, Newton would make several key adjustments that turned the game right around. Newton started attacking the rim more and scored 18 points in the 3rd quarter and was able to cut the deficit to four going into the 4th.
The final frame went back and forth as Ezra Pemstein (16pts) and Aidan Lopei (13pts) started to heat up. Belmont looked to guard Danny Yargemian, who scored a game high 25 points, while shooting a perfect 8-8 from the foul line, to take control.
As the final minutes of the game waned, it was clear that whoever had the ball last would come out on top. With the game tied at 62, Newton called a timeout with just under six seconds to play and the ball coming in underneath their own basket. Belmont guarded the play very well but Newton’s Ezra Pemstein would grab the offensive rebound and hit a tough fade away basket as time expired to win the game. Final Score: Newton 64, Belmont 62
#4 Arlington vs #5 Easton
Arlington put together a great team effort to hold off a very scrappy Easton team in a game much closer than the score indicated. Tied after the first quarter at 14 apiece, Arlington had an explosive second quarter where five different players scored to give them a 31 to 21 lead going into the half.
Easton’s Jake Erlich (17pts) continued to attack throughout the second half and had Easton within three points with less than four minutes to play. Easton would also look to guard Sean O’Brien (13pts) to help them narrow the deficit.
Arlington’s balanced attacked would prove too much for Easton, as five of their players would tally eight or more points to earn the right to face Brookline in the Final Four.
Arlington’s leading scorers were, Nick Karalis (8pts) Ngor Manyang (9pts) Adam Bowler (9pts) Joey Pazzia (11 pts) and James Gascoigne (11pts). Final Score: Arlington 55, Easton 44
Elite 8 Leading Scorers
1. Danny Yargemian (Belmont) 25 points
2. Chris Camille (Brookline) 21 points
3. Jake Erlich (Easton) 16 points
4. Mike Doherty (Westboro) 16 points
5. Ezra Pemstein (Newton) 16 points
Final 4 Predictions
#1 Brookline vs. #4 Arlington- Brookline will be tested from start to finish. These two teams squared off on February 8th and Brookline escaped with a two-point win, 55-53 on their home court. It is going to be a fun matchup between Chris Camille and James Gascoigne as two of the top interior players in the state go head-to-head. This game should be one of the most exciting games of the season and a great rematch from earlier this year. I have to give the slight edge to last year’s champs, Brookline, who will win in a close one and will have a shot to repeat. Winner: Brookline.
#2 Westborough vs. #6 Newton – Newton is a tough, hardnosed, scrappy team but so is Westborough. These two teams matched up on March 1st and Westborough was able to win by 10, 52-42. Twins Matt and Mike Doherty have been playing with an unmatched level of confidence and will be very tough for Newton to match up with. Newton, the highest seed in the tournament still playing, has had a great season, but will struggle to keep up with Westborough in transition. Westborough wins to force a showdown with Brookline in the Finals. Winner: Westborough.
By Joe Dicruttalo (@JDicruttalo)
This past Sunday, the 8th Grade Division 1 MetroWest narrowed the field from 16 teams to 8. Throughout the day we saw teams battle for their chance to participate in the Elite 8, which will be held Thursday March 12th at 7:45 at Mass Premier Courts.
#3 Belmont vs. #14 Randolph
In the first game of the day the (14)Randolph came out swinging versus (3)Belmont. After the first quarter, Randolph jumped out to a 21 to 10 lead. Lefty guard Sebastian Borgard (19pts) started the game on fire, scoring inside and out. Throughout the first quarter, Randolph’s 2-3 zone with their size and length gave Belmont trouble and forced them into bad shots. Belmont made a great adjustment in the second quarter bouncing back and forth between their 2-2-1 full court press and their man to man press. This really sped the tempo of the game up and caused Randolph to play faster than they were comfortable playing, as the ball began to be thrown around and the turnovers increased rapidly.
Belmont’s Point Guard Danny Yardemian however, looked very comfortable as the speed of the game increased. Poised under pressure, Danny showed why he was one of the main pieces that helped Belmont finish with the third best record in D1. Making play after play for himself and his teammates, he lead the charge as Belmont bounced back and outscored Randolph 52-34 after their slow start in the first. Danny Yardemian finished the game with an impressive 24 points and 6 assists. Also impressive in the winning effort for Belmont was power guard Arek Boynerian (16pts) who was a bull on the interior and hit shots throughout the game. Randolph came out of the gates strong, but Belmont pulled away down the stretch to be the first team to advance into the Elite 8 with a 62-55 win.
#6 Newton vs #11 Needham
Needham could have been one of the most disciplined teams in the field. Coached by Wheaton College Assistant Coach Bill Naylor the Division 2 regular season Needham group proved to everyone they were deserving of their top 20 finish in the state. Both teams went back and forth from start to finish with neither team ever having larger than a five-point advantage on the other. Newton jumped out to a 14-9 lead after the first quarter, playing physical and controlling the glass on both ends of the floor.
The second quarter both teams netted 8 points and we went into half time with the same margin we finished the first quarter with. Needham made several half time adjustments, changing matchups and identifying players to key up on in the third quarter. Jack Idelson scored 8 of his team high 10 points in the third quarter propelling Needham to their first lead of the night 29-28 after three quarters.
Newton played very strong over the last 8 minutes and used their strength and size to outscore Needham 15-10 in the final frame. Newton advanced with a 43-39 over a very well coached Needham group and will play Belmont in the Elite 8.
#2 Westboro vs #15 Southborough
Westboro started off the game with one of the most impressive runs of the day, scoring 18 straight points before Southboro scored their first basket. Westboro, led by the Matt and Mike Doherty, play a fast, up-tempo style of basketball and punish teams for not getting back in transition. Matt lead the game in scoring with 17 points but what was most impressive was his overall court vision. Scanning the floor and always looking for teammates. Matt tallied seven assists, five steals, and nine rebounds in a very well rounded game. Twin brother Mike may not have shown up as dramatically in the score sheet but the scrappy defender and high energy guard added 11 points to go along with 10 rebounds, and countless tips and deflections. Dominic Casparriello added 15 points knocking down 15-footer after 15-footer and punished Southboro for trying to help on the countless Doherty drives.
Despite having three guys in double digits, the really impressive characteristic of this team is their overall togetherness. From the way they help each other up off the floor, to cheering each other on from the sideline, these boys compete for each other from layup lines to the final whistle. Final Score - Westboro 62 Southboro 29.
#7 Burlington vs #10 Canton
Just as in the March Madness Brackets of the NCAA the 7 vs 10 game is always entertaining. Having just watched Westboro advance to the Elite 8, both teams would fight all game long for the chance to match up with what most people are calling the favorites to win the whole tournament. Canton has impressive length across the board and when they play their 2-3 Zone it make it very difficult for teams to run their offense.
Leading by eight points after the first, Canton would go on to push their lead to 15 points entering the final quarter. Behind three consecutive 3-pointers, Burlington came out hot in the fourth quarter cutting the deficit to only a handful with just under two minutes to play. Canton’s lead guard Devin Foster (15pts) knocked down eight straight free-throws in the waning minutes, under pressure, to hold off the late Burlington push. Final Score - Canton 59 Burlington 51
#1 Brookline vs #16 Sharon
Brookline led this game from start to finish proving why they are the number one team in this talented field of 8th grade teams. Behind a 33-point first quarter, Brookline jumped out to a 21-point advantage after just one quarter of action.
Sharon, playing without 6’4 Daniel Schlakman, was forced to adjust their style of play, and find out new ways to generate offense. The Eagles moved the ball well and played an unselfish brand of basketball tallying 20 assists in their losing effort.
Brookline was forced to play without their power forward as well, Chris Camille, who may not return for the remainder of the playoffs. Despite not having Camille, Brookline controlled the glass and was able to showcase their depth in an impressive victory over Sharon. Sharon’s Ali Ghaddar was the game’s leading scorer with 23 points. Final Score - Brookline 73 Sharon 46
#8 West Roxbury vs #9 Wellesley
Behind strong guard play from Alex Stoddard (16pts), Wellesley took a 28-14 lead into the half. The teams went back and forth throughout the first half. Despite Wellesley’s sizable lead, everyone in the gym could sense it was only a matter of time before West Roxbury made their run. The second half West Roxbury’s defense picked up and the intensity of the game amplified as the crowd grew.
Marc Henli of West Roxbury scored 12 of his game high 20 points in the second half and helped his team grab a one-point lead with just under 30 seconds to play in the game. Wellesley would call upon their leader Alex Stoddard once more, who banked in a floater to give Wellesley a one-point advantage with just under 12 seconds to play.
West Roxbury had one more chance in a game that appeared that whichever team had the ball last would walk away victorious. A great offensive set left a West Roxbury guard wide open from the foul line, but the shot rattled in and out and Wellesley would hang on to advance. Final Score - Wellesley 54 West Roxbury 53.
#4 Arlington vs. # 13 Sudbury
Arlington, lead by James Gascoigne (16 pts) and point guard Amani Gottlieb, was too much for Sudbury from the opening jump. Gottlieb was not too flashy when checking the score sheet, but was one of the most solid point guards of the day. He ran his team and helped get the ball to where it needed to be. Sudbury was rattled with injury and had to play with their star forward Judson Martindale stuck on the bench with a broken wrist. Sudbury fought from the first whistle to the final horn, but the depth and strength of Arlington proved to be too much. Final Score - Arlington 60 Sudbury 41
#5 Easton vs. #12 Mansfield
As a reminder, Easton was last year’s runners up in the Division-1 7th grade MetroWest tournament. They have had their ups and downs this season, but have seemed to figure it all out at the perfect time. Team defense is something that was not seen much throughout the Sweet 16, but the last game of the night Easton put on a clinic in what it means to have five guys guard the ball. Players rotated to help, other players slid down to help the helper, it was really impressive to watch how hard Easton worked on the defensive end of the ball.
Lead by point guard Tim Kemp (13pts 5 steals), forward Jake Erlich (15pts 7 rebs) and Center Ethan Eckstrim (15pts 8 rebs), Easton played great team basketball for 32 straight minutes. They shared the ball, and looked for a good shot on every possession that when they slowed it down.
Mansfield’s Khristian Connor finished with a game high 16 points, but was forced to work for each and every basket he made. Help rotated over, and Connor saw constant double teams. Easton’s scheme was properly executed. Final Score - Easton 55 Mansfield 35.
Elite 8 Predictions
#1 Brookline advancing over #9 Wellesley. The depth of Brookline will be too much for Wellesley to overcome.
#5 Easton over #4 Arlington – Going to be the best game of the Elite 8. This game should go down to the wire, but Easton’s focus on the defensive end will give them what it takes to reach the Final 4!
#6 Newton over #3 Belmont – Belmont is very skilled, but I believe the strength and toughness of Newton will prove to be too much for Belmont to handle.
#2 Westboro over #10 Canton- Unfortunate draw for Canton, as they could be one of the top 3 or 4 teams in this tournament. However, Westboro is just too fast and will create enough scoring in transition to eliminate Canton’s zone.
BY KYLE DaLUZ
FOR THE SUN CHRONICLE
TAUNTON – Norton High boys’ basketball head coach Marc Liberatore had seen it before, and now he was about to witness it once again.
Old Rochester Regional senior Jordan Menard was left alone in the corner after Norton’s Jason O’Neil drove through the lane and banked a shot off glass to cut into the Bulldog lead, pulling the Lancers to within four points with two minutes remaining in regulation.
Noah Fernandes dribbled right through the Lancer defense and kicked out to Menard who lined up a three that hit nothing but net, extending the Bulldog lead to seven with 1:47 to play – the dagger in the heart of the Lancers that all but ended their season Saturday night at Taunton in the MIAA Division-3 South Sectional tournament, as Norton fell to Old Rochester 64-53.
Liberatore was in attendance for the second meeting between South Coast Conference members Old Rochester and Wareham, where Menard hit a three-point field goal in the waning minutes to propel the Bulldogs to victory. It was a bad case of déjà vu for Liberatore.
“You have to tip your hat off to him,” said Liberatore. “He’s a senior captain for them and he hits the biggest shot of the game. We talked about him the past couple days. That’s what he does.”
“I saw he had a little daylight,” said Old Rochester Regional coach Steve Carvalho. “He had a good look and plenty of separation.”
“Noah got to the basket and they helped on him,” said Menard. “He kicked it out, I was open and I let it fly.”
Trailing 31-28 at halftime, senior captain Bret Murphy continued his hot shooting for the Lancers in the third quarter. Murphy connected on four three-point field goals in his second consecutive tournament game and hit back-to-back threes in the third quarter to pull Norton ahead for the first time since the first quarter.
“He doesn’t need much room,” said Liberatore.” When he’s coming off the screen he’s always looking to shoot.”
The Bulldogs flexed their muscles at the end of the third quarter. Old Rochester answered the two Murphy three pointers with an 8-0 run to close out the quarter, and never trailed for the remainder of the contest. Old Rochester’s Fernandes scored 22 points and added four rebounds and assists to pace play for the Bulldogs.
“We were playing a 3-2 zone to try and keep his penetration down,” said Liberatore. “In the first quarter he got us in foul trouble because he was splitting the zone. Then he finished shots in the second, third and fourth quarters. He played good defense too. He really gave our guards trouble with his hands, with his ability to get his hands on us when they were dribbling the ball. He did it on both ends and he’s going to be a great player.”
“That was probably the turning point in the game,” said Carvalho of his team’s late third quarter run. “Noah (Fernandes) and Jordan (Menard) wreak havoc in the back court and that’s been their M.O.”
Norton trailed by five heading into the final quarter, and were outscored by six points in the fourth. Bulldog center Matt Valles all but sealed their trip to the Division-3 state semifinals at TD Garden with an “and-1” with 1:07 to play to put Old Rochester up 10.
“I think they (Old Rochester) proved they were the best team,” said Liberatore. “We hung with them for three and a half quarters as hard as we could. They’re a little bit deeper than us and that showed up in the fourth quarter.”
Senior Jason O’Neil tallied 16 points for the Lancers, with continued penetration through the Old Rochester defense, and grabbed seven defensive rebounds.
“(He) took the ball hard to the basket,” said Liberatore. “A couple times it rolled out on him and he’s our best penetrator and did it on both ends with defensive rebounds too.”
The senior leadership of O’Neil, Murphy and Jenkins carried Norton to the sectional finals for the first time since 1988, a place no one expected them to be when they were 6-4 at the midway point of their season.
“I’m really proud of these guys,” said Liberatore. “For a six-seed to get here, not a lot of people thought we would be here.”
Murphy 6 3-3 19, O’Neil 7 2-4 16, Jenkins 3 5-7 11, Caramanica 1 0-0 2, Coffey 1 0-0 2, Petersen 1 1-2 3, Woodworth 0 0-0 0, O’Malley 0 0-0 0, Troiano 0 0-0 0, totals 19 11-16 53
Fernandes 7 8-9 22, E. Santos 2 2-4 6, Valles 4 3-3 11, W. Santos 4 4-5 12, Gamache 0 0-0 0, Menard 3 1-2 9, Beatty 1 2-2 4, Noonan 0 0-0 0, totals 21 20-25 64
Norton – 15 13 12 13 – 53
ORR - 18 13 14 19 – 64
3-point field goals – Norton 4 (Murphy 4), ORR 2 (Menard 2); Rebounds – Norton 30 (Jenkins 8), ORR 22 (Menard 7); Assists – Norton 10 (Jenkins 3), ORR 8 (Fernandes 4); Fouls – Norton 18 (Murphy, Jenkins, Coffey 4), ORR 15 (Menard 4)
These teams have battled one another and the elements all winter, and now it's time to get down to the best of the best in Metro Hoops.
Last year's playoff games were some of the most exciting hoops I have seen at this age level, and this year should be no different.
I'm not providing lengthy details regarding my selections until we get down to the Final Four.
8th Grade Girls
Elite Eight: Norton, Westwood, Wellesley, Bridgewater, Walpole, Natick, Needham, King Philip
Final Four: Norton, Wellesley, Walpole, Needham
8th Grade Boys
Elite Eight: Brookline, Wellesley, Arlington, Mansfield, Belmont, Needham, Westboro, Canton
7th Grade Girls
Elite Eight: King Philip, North Attleboro, Franklin, Natick, Newton, Walpole, Belmont, Attleboro
Final Four: King Philip, Franklin, Walpole, Attleboro
7th Grade Boys
Elite Eight: Wellesley, Brookline, Newton, Needham, Mansfield, Barrington, Attleboro, Randolph
Final Four: Brookline, Needham, Mansfield, Attleboro
6th Grade Girls
Elite Eight: Bridgewater, Easton, Franklin, North Attleboro, Arlington, Newton, Belmont, Taunton
Final Four: Easton, Franklin, Newton, Belmont
6th Grade Boys
Elite Eight: Stoughton, Barrington, Bellingham, Belmont, North Attleboro, Wellesley, Brookline, Mansfield
Final Four: Stoughton, Bellingham, Wellesley, Brookline
BY KYLE DaLUZ
FOR THE SUN CHRONICLE
BRIDGEWATER – When the Norton Lancers boys’ basketball team was 6-4 midway through their season, no one envisioned them clinching a berth to the MIAA Division-3 South sectional final, but Marc Liberatore’s bunch has found a way as they defeated Norwell High Wednesday night in the sectional semifinal, 38-32.
Trailing 11-10 at halftime, senior guard Bret Murphy gave the Lancers the offensive spark they desperately needed in the third quarter. Murphy scored 13 of his team’s 15 points in the third, hitting four three-point field goals to give the Lancers an 11-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
“His shot is so quick,” said Norton High coach Marc Liberatore of Murphy’s third quarter efforts. “Team’s think they have him covered then the shot is off and out of his hands.”
The Lancers struggled to get much offense going in the first half, scoring just 10 points, including a mere two in the second quarter.
“In the first half I thought most of our shots were contested,” said Liberatore. “We had some unforced turnovers and they (Norwell) got too many offensive rebounds in the first half.”
The Norton defense held Norwell to just three points in the third quarter, and looked like they had a strangle-hold on the lead in such a low scoring affair.
Then the Clippers made a run. Trailing 28-19 with 3:30 remaining in the fourth quarter, number 2-seeded Norwell went on a 10-2 run, and cut the lead to just one after Joey Volpe stole the ball and hit a three-pointer with 1:14 remaining.
“They made some big shots, but we’ve matured since the beginning of the season,” said Liberatore. “Teams would come back on us and we might hang our heads a little, but now when teams make a run like that, we fight through that and then we made the run to end the game. That’s just maturity and improvement.”
With 45 seconds to play, the Lancers extended their lead off a baseline jumper from Paul Caramanica, who scored six of his 12 points in the final quarter.
Caramanica hit two free throws with 25 seconds remaining to push the lead up to five, but Stephen Kulka hit a three on the other end to make it a two-point game.
Norton called on Jason O’Neil (2-2 FT in fourth) and Brandon Jenkins (five rebounds in fourth) to clinch the game for the Lancers. Murphy came up with a steal with just under seven seconds to play, and hit both of his free-throws to clinch the finals bid.
Norton scored 23 points in the second half, more than doubling their total from the first. The Lancers ended the game on an 8-3 run over the final 45 seconds.
“We wanted to do a better job of screening the zone,” said Liberatore of his second half game-plan. “In the second half it was more screening the zone, throw a chest pass and get the ball to our shooters.”
Get it to the shooters they did. Murphy led the Lancers with 15 points, while Caramanica had 12.
“I only do as well as my teammates do.” said Murphy of his hot shooting in the second half. “If they draw attention they get me open. It’s all about them.”
No. 6-seeded Norton will now advance to the MIAA Division-3 South sectional final, where they will play the Old Rochester Bulldogs on Saturday night at 7 p.m. at Taunton High.
Murphy 4 3-4 15, O’Neil 2 5-6 9, Jenkins 0 0-0 0, Caramanica 5 2-2 12, Coffey 1 0-0 2, totals 12 10-12 38.
Dwyer 2 0-2 4, Larason 1 0-0 3, Kulka 3 0-0 8, Hilsinger 0 0-0 0, Volpe 4 0-0 9, Smith 1 0-0 2, Doherty 2 0-0 6, totals 13 0-2 32.
Norton 8 2 15 8 – 38
Norwell 7 4 3 18 – 32
3-point goals – Norton 4 (Murphy 4), Norwell 6 (Kulka 2, Doherty 2, Larason, Volpe)