Eastern MIAA High School State Semi-Finals Wrap Up

Mansfield couldn't do the impossible, as Pat Connaughton and St. John's Prep took care of business Tuesday! (Credit Dan Libon)
BOSTON, MA – Did you miss any of Tuesday’s MIAA eastern high school boy’s basketball games? Well in case you did, here are all four game recaps and rapid reactions.
 

Division I State Semi-Finals: St. John’s Prep 64 – Mansfield 55: Thanks to clutch free throw shooting down the stretch, St. John’s Prep ended Mansfield’s exciting playoff run.

“We play to try to extend leads, we play aggressively  and that’s how we built the lead in the first place,” said St. John’s Prep senior guard Patrick Connaughton.

“I think we did a pretty good job defensively against them,” said St. John’s Prep head coach Sean Connolly. “They have a kid [Michael]Lofton who is very good. Creates a lot of mismatches [and] once he gets to the paint it’s tough because he’s such a good passer, but overall, I thought we did a good job defensively.”

The Pioneers indeed play great defense, as they not only began the game by holding Mansfield to just seven points, but also, forced the Hornets to win the game outside the paint, which didn’t seem to work quite well. However, Mansfield did force St. John’s Prep to turn the ball over on offense during the second half, as well as provided extra pressure, but once Mansfield’s senior forward Jeff Hill fouled out, the Hornets were a completely different team that struggled to score points and stop the Pioneers transition game.

St. John’s Prep was led by Connaughton who finished the game with 15 points and junior forward Steve Haladyna, who ended his night with a team high 20 points. Mansfield was led by Hill with a 20 points and senior forward Michael Lofton with 10 points.

 

Division II State Semi-Finals: New Mission 67 – Hopkinton 56: New Mission junior guard Kachi Nzerem scored 13 points during the first half and finished the game with 21 points, as the Titans scored early and often en route to the Division II state finals.

“Toughest team we faced all year,” said Hopkinton head coach Tom Keane. “They definitely have a great chance [to win] Division II. Definitely a tough game”

Both teams constantly battled each other through the first 16-minutes, as both teams were tied, 33-33 at halftime.

The Hillers held the Titans to 11 points during the second quarter, as Hopkinton relied heavily on junior forward Jason Dlugolecki to keep the score close, but once the second half began, New Mission completely took over the ball game, as they recorded 34 points. A major reason for their success was their press, which certainly baffled the Hillers.

“It took a really strong fundamental effort for us to win this game today,” said New Mission head coach Cory McCarthy.

New Mission was led by Nzerem, as well as senior guard Samir McDaniels who ended the game with 13 points. Hopkinton was led by senior forward Jake Doucette and junior guard Barrett Hanlon, both players finished with 13-points.

 

Division III State Semi-Finals: Watertown 56 – Cardinal Spellman 36: After Watertown’s senior guard Marco Coppola sank a three-pointer to end the third quarter, it seemed most likely that the Raiders would hold onto their 25-point lead with just eight minutes to go in the game and advance to Worcester on Saturday for the Division III state finals.

“This [team] has some holes in at time, but they make up for it,” said Watertown head coach Stephen Harrington. “They’re relentless. They take it to another level.”

“Once we have the lead we know to just put it on,” said Coppola.

Coppola played excellent and so did his entire team, that forced the Cardinals to play the game their way. Not only did the Raiders dictate the pace of the game, but also, they held Cardinal Spellman to literally one shot during most of the multiple Cardinals offensive series.

The Cardinals didn’t tally double digits in a quarter until the fourth when freshman guard Ryan Roach contributed five of the 14 points during the final eight minutes.

“Their defense was as advertised,” said Cardinal Spellman head coach Michael Perry.

Watertown was led by Coppola, who finished the game with 26 points and senior forward Joe Donahue added 11 points. Cardinal Spellman was led by senior forward Joe Glynn who finished the game with 13 points.

 

Division IV Eastern Championship: Winthrop 58 – Cohasset 53: Winthrop’s senior center Anthony Hatzisavas sank two free-throws during the closing seconds of the fourth quarter, which was followed up by a Cohasset three-pointer by sophomore guard Shane Haggerty. Yet, after a quick foul, Winthrop missed two critical free-throws, but held on to win the Division IV MIAA Eastern Championship.

“Unfortunately, we didn’t box out early and the big kid, [Anthony Hatzisavas] caused some serious problems for us on the boards. [He is a] very big and talented kid,” said Cohasset head coach Bo Ruggiero. “My guys gave it their all.”

“No one expected this team to win the state championship, not even myself. I knew we could be competitive at times, but to be Division IV state champions is unbelievable,” said Winthrop head coach David Brown

Winthrop was led by Hatzisavas who finished the game with 16 points, while junior forward JP Doherty ended the afternoon with 15 points.

Cohasset’s sophomore guard Shane Haggerty had a game high 17 points and junior forward Kyrel Jaundoo finished the game with 12 points.

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