Season to cherish; 2007-08 made for memories

Sport:

Posted: March 23rd, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Season to cherish; 2007-08 made for memories
By Dan Ventura / In the Paint  |   Sunday, March 23, 2008  |  http://www.bostonherald.com  |  High School Basketball

Another basketball season has slipped by but not before providing enough highlights to last a lifetime. While last weekend’s state championship games proved to be anticlimatic, the road to Worcester was anything but.

Start with the boys ranks, where Central Catholic rallied to defeat Charlestown in overtime in the sectional semifinal, planting the final seeds for a successful run to its first state title since 1999. In Division 2, Brendan Monteiro’s jumper in the final seconds gave Catholic Memorial a sectional championship and the Knights parlayed that into their first state title since 1969.

The biggest surprise was in Div., 4 where North Cambridge Catholic, a team that finished seventh in a seven-team league, defied the odds and defeated Avon for the title. Scituate captured its first Div. 3 South title, then went on to dethrone defending champion Watertown, before falling in the state final.

On the girls side, let’s start with Div. 3 where Archbishop Williams successfully defended its title in style, rolling over a good Quaboag team in the state final. Wellesley created history of its own, knocking off defending champion Lincoln-Sudbury in the semifinal and Millbury in the final to take home the school’s first girls hoop title.

Cohasset, meanwhile, belied the belief that a young team cannot win when the stakes are high. Employing a roster without a senior, the Skippers defeated Manchester Essex in overtime to win the Div. 4 title. Andover relied on defense and 3-point shooting to get to the championship game before losing to Northampton.

As we’ve done through the years, the Herald provides the region’s loyal basketball fans with a final look at the 2007-08 season:

The final top 10 lists

Boys

* 1. CENTRAL CATHOLIC (25-2) -- The Div. 1 champions didn’t take the easy road to Worcester, defeating Charlestown, Lowell and BC High in succession.

* 2. LOWELL (22-2) -- The more experienced team in the North final came oh-so-close to playing on the parquet.

* 3. CHARLESTOWN (23-1) -- The perfect season went up in smoke in a heartbreaking way in the sectional semifinal.

* 4. BC HIGH (21-4) -- Offensive shortcomings were finally exposed in the state semifinals.

* 5. EVERETT (19-2) -- Yes, they do more than just play football in Everett.

* 6. BROCKTON (21-3) -- Like Lowell, Brockton wasn’t far away from winning a sectional title.

* 7. CATHOLIC MEMORIAL (22-4) -- The Knights’ tough nonleague schedule paid dividends in the postseason.

* 8. DARTMOUTH (16-4) -- The Indians were the only team to challenge Catholic Memorial in the Div. 2 tournament.

* 9. SCITUATE (22-3) -- Size does matter in Sailor Country, especially with 6-foot-10 Andrew McCarthy, 6-9 Sean McCarthy and 6-7 Blaine O’Brien leading the way.

* 10. WATERTOWN (22-3) -- The Raiders would certainly attest to the Sailors’ size issue, having seen their hopes of a repeat go up in smoke against Scituate.

Girls

* 1. ARCHBISHOP WILLIAMS (22-2) -- The Bishops certainly didn’t crumble under the pressures of trying to repeat.

* 2. ANDOVER (23-4) -- Coach Jim Tildsley will have a tough time replacing this terrific group of seniors.

* 3. CARDINAL SPELLMAN (22-2) -- It would have been interesting to see what would have happened had Jade Santos (torn ACL in the regular-season finale) been available in the tournament.

* 4. LOWELL (19-3) -- All three losses during the season came at the hands of Andover.

* 5. WELLESLEY (23-3) -- A nice blend of youth and experience paved the way to a Div. 2 state title.

* 6. LINCOLN-SUDBURY (21-4) -- The one-two punch of Sarah Wetmore and Shatasia Kearse led the Warriors to another sectional title.

* 7. MASCONOMET (20-2) -- A terrific season snuffed out at the hands ot Lincoln-Sudbury once again.

* 8. PENTUCKET (21-3) -- Youthful Sachems figure to enter the 2008-09 season as the team to beat in Div. 3.

* 9. CENTRAL CATHOLIC (16-8) -- Forget the overall record, this team was peaking at the right time and it showed in the tournament.

* 10. BISHOP FEEHAN (22-1) -- The Shamrocks had everything going their way until they ran up against Wellesley.

The 10 teams to keep an eye on

Boys

* 1. WATERTOWN -- Raiders return their top three scorers. Look for freshmen Marco Coppola and Connor Stockdale to play bigger roles next year.

* 2. BROCKTON -- Louis Montes and Jarrod DeVaughn should be the premier forward combo in EMass next year.

* 3. STOUGHTON -- If the Black Knights get any sort of consistent guard play to go along with their big frontcourt, they could be a state title contender.

* 4. DARTMOUTH -- Lots of good talent coming back from a team that gave Catholic Memorial all it could handle.

* 5. CENTRAL CATHOLIC -- You can do a lot worse than returning a rapidly improving 6-9 center (Carson Desrosiers), a proven scorer (Billy Marsden) and an underrated contributor (Tim Wheeler).

Girls

* 1. PENTUCKET -- If you are an investor who likes futures, this is your team. Almost everyone will be back from a team that lost to Archbishop Williams in the state semifinals.

* 2. WELLESLEY -- Let’s see here, we have a sophomore point guard, a freshman shooting guard with ice water in her veins and a junior rebounding machine. Need we say more?

* 3. SWAMPSCOTT -- Even with Pentucket lurking in their bracket, the Big Blue is going to be heard from next year as just about everyone returns for another go.

* 4. CENTRAL CATHOLIC -- A killer schedule benefitted the Raiders down the stretch. With future Div. 1 college forward Katie Zenevitch back for two more years -- and a good freshman class to boot -- watch out for this team.

* 5. READING -- Rockets had a great tourney run and return four starters, including Jackie Lyons.

Memorable games during the season

Boys

* 1. Brockton 91, Catholic Memorial 90 -- For sheer intensity and shot-making, we wish you good luck finding a better game. Kyle Gerry capped off a wild final minute by going coast-to-coast and hitting a 12-footer at the buzzer.

* 2. Central Catholic 74, Charlestown 63 -- Trailing the entire game, the Raiders rallied to tie the score on a layup by Carson Desrosiers with time running out in regulation. Central Catholic then scored the first 13 points of overtime and never looked back.

* 3. Avon 87, Cathedral 84 -- Akeem Williams scored 50 points, including the game-winner in the second overtime as Avon knocked off the two-time champs.

* 4. Scituate 66, Medfield 64 -- Keith Fleury’s steal and layup in the final seconds gave the Sailors a win in the sectional semifinals.

* 5. Reading 61, Woburn 59 -- Nick Edson’s putback with a second left gave the Rockets a stunning tournament win in a game better known for Woburn’s decision to ban its student body from attendance following an incident at a hockey game earlier in the week.

Girls

* 1. New Bedford 50, Brockton 49 -- The Whalers’ third win of the season over their bitter rival was the sweetest, this one being a come-from-behind win in the sectional quarterfinals.

* 2. Cohasset 44, Manchester Essex 36 -- After struggling to find their offense in regulation, the Skippers put it all together in a four-minute overtime to capture the Div. 4 state title.

* 3. North Quincy 66, Franklin 57 -- Siobhan Carnell sent the game into overtime by hitting two free throws with 16 seconds left, then the Red Raiders put it into high gear in the extra session to finish the upset.

* 4. Cardinal Spellman 53, Archbishop Williams 51 -- Cori O’Kane knocked down two free throws in the waning moments to give the Cardinals the win.

* 5. Watertown 52, Ipswich 51 -- Brittany Obi-Talbot scored 28 points and grabbed 19 rebounds as the Raiders survived in a game better known for its late-game clock controversy.

Five things i’ll never understand

* Why the league representative for girls basketball in the South Coast Conference annually fails to do his duty and report the league’s weekly standings. Every year, it is the same old song dance when we contact this rep, a million excuses and zero results. Hopefully, other coaches in the league will lean on him to do his job next year and publicize the standings.

* Why a local college with better facilities won’t step up so that the South sectional finals can be held at a better venue than UMass-Boston. The list of complaints we hear from coaches, players and fans grows with each year. God bless the North’s home, Tsongas Arena.

* Why more and more places refuse to list on the scoreboard how many fouls players have tallied. Have we become so PC that we fear ruffling a kid’s feelings by listing it on the board?

* Why the MIAA focuses on the need for postgame handshakes to promote sportmanship when the bigger issue is conduct in the stands. The ill will on the court is nothing compared to the stands, where kids are allowed to spew venom to their hearts’ content.

* Why can’t we go back to getting the best officials to referee the best games in the tournament? There’s just too many occasions in which top-flight officials were bypassed or even blackballed in the postseason. That shouldn’t happen again