After a silent ride, the bus pulled up to the DCU at 2:58 p.m. Summers was the first one standing and exclaimed “Let’s do this!” before dancing her way down the aisle.
“We’re not getting back on this bus without a win,” said Downer.
Sitting in Balcony Section 234, the Raiders caught the end of the Medfield-Nashoba game for the Division 2 championship. As the final horn sounded, they were silent. Twenty-four eyes were fixed on the middle of the court, where Medfield was huddled, jumping — this is what a championship looks like.
At 4:32, seventy-three minutes before tip-off, they arrived at locker room 5 — “a good omen,” said Boomer. “The boys were here when they won’’ in 2010.
Downer had vowed she wouldn’t get emotional before the game, and followed through with a spirited motivational speech.
“I have never been prouder of a group of girls,” she began.
“We’ve got to push and push and push and fight and fight and fight with everything we’ve got.” She never says “you” — always “we” to her team.
“Most importantly, we need to play Central Catholic basketball. There is no tomorrow after this. . . . Get out there, win that opening tip and we’re going to score first. That’s our first goal.”
Then the team huddled and prayed together. Downer walked to each player and put a stamp on each hand — “team,” it read — and the players finish with a “one, two, three, team!” before heading to the court.
After junior Amanda Williams won the opening tip, McLaughlin found Walsh for an open baseline jumper; she nailed it. McLaughlin would score or assist on 8 of 9 Raider field goals in the opening quarter, helping the Raider lead grow to 14 (22-8) just 1:44 into the second.
“I just wanted it so bad,” she said later. “We wanted it, as a team.”
Holy Name would come storming back to within three points in the final two minutes, but a few clutch free-throws from Summers, McLaughlin, and junior guard Caitlin Dell’Orfano iced the game.
The final horn sounded at 7:08 pm, and the celebration began. Each senior took a turn hugging the trophy. Back in the locker room, Downer received the traditional Gatorade shower, with ice water in its place. The bus pulled away at 8:02 with Queen’s “We are the Champions” blaring on the speakers, but it’s not the song everyone will remember.
Pat Bradley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.