7. Fenway player finds strength on court
There’s pressure enough standing on the free throw line in a tight game with your teammates counting on you. And when you do that just hours after watching your stepfather die, it’s beyond what any teenager should face. But Fenway junior guard Cadejia Matthews found the strength not only to play in the Division 4 North final as well as the state final two days later, but to excel. Matthews hit two crucial free throws to lead Fenway past Whittier in the North final, then scored a game-high 15 points against Greater New Bedford to help Fenway win the state title. “I played my heart out for him knowing he was still looking down on me,” said Matthews.
8. This time, Brighton has the final say
Except for one little thing, Brighton had a great 2011-12 season. The Bengals’ 21-4 record included a win on the TD Garden floor. But the ending, a 45-41 loss to Mahar in the state championship, wasn’t what they wanted and the 2012-13 season was devoted to righting that ending. Mission accomplished. Led by Malik James (16 points), Brighton beat South Hadley, 59-41, to win the Division 2 state title. Their 21-6 season also included a city title. “The coaches are so proud that this is the first city and state title for Brighton High School in 171 years,’’ said coach Hugh Coleman. “That is amazing for me.”
9. McLaughlin ‘just everything’
The right knee brace is the only sign it hasn’t always been good for Central Catholic senior Casey McLaughlin. After missing time last winter with a knee injury, McLaughlin came back stronger than ever. On state championship Saturday, she was the day's high scorer on the DCU court, scoring more than half her team’s points (27) in a 53-48 win over Holy Name. McLaughlin also played great defense on Holy Name’s 6-foot-2-inch center Brianna Frias. “She’s our everything,” said coach Sue Downer. “She’s our emotional leader, our physical leader, our vocal leader. She’s just everything.” Including a state champion.
10. Blyzinskyj leads Weston to 21st title
Maybe you’re not sure how to pronounce his name, but really all you need to know about Weston swimmer Jack Blyzinskyj is that there’s never been anyone faster in the pool. At the Division 2 meet at Harvard, the University of Florida-bound senior broke the state record in the 50 free with a time of 20.50 seconds. That’s down and back in 20.50 seconds, an almost see-it-to-believe-it time. “I’m pumped about that,” an excited Blyzinskyj said after Weston had won its 21st state swimming title. “That’s the highlight of my life right there.” And to those in attendance that day, sad to say but his mohawk is gone. It was a nice look.