CHELSEA — Snowden sophomore Javaughn Kittrell banked in a fadeaway circus shot off the glass with 36 seconds left in double overtime to help beat St. Mary’s of Lynn on Monday night in the Division 4 North semifinals at Chelsea High.
“That shot, what a [once in a] lifetime shot, what can I say,” Kittrell said after scoring a game-high 23 points in the 63-58 victory. “It happens once in a lifetime, I couldn’t do anything about it. I just hoisted it up, prayed and that’s what happened.”
After junior Derron Stone hit a pair of free throws to give Snowden the 59-57 lead with 1:21 left in the game, Kittrell stole the ball and took it down to the paint, where he pulled up for a jump shot. After being blocked by sophomore guard Nick Amenta, the 15-year-old recovered the ball and threw up his fadeaway prayer over Amenta's outstretched arms to give Snowden a 61-57 edge.
On St. Mary’s next possession, Stone (12 points) pinned senior guard John Teehan’s shot against the backboard with 13.7 seconds left as St. Mary’s fans called for a goaltending call.
“I knew it wasn’t goal tending, I knew it,” said Stone, who was 3 for 8 from the foul line before he hit his go-ahead free throws in double overtime. “During the first quarter I went to block a shot and I hit my hand on the glass. My finger was bothering me all throughout the game and coach, he’s a good coach, and he had to talk to me and I had to suck it up.
“He told me ‘This is what we live for.’ Double overtime; I just had to knock it down.”
Senior Juquann Smith (10 points) and sophomore Rayshawne Mercury (19 points) also made several clutch shots down the stretch, including Mercury’s deep 3-pointer to tie the game at 41 with 3:28 left in regulation.
He also hit another 3-pointer to put his team up 50-48 in the first overtime before St. Mary’s tied it 51-51 to go into the final frame.
“Just confidence, coach told me to keep shooting and I kept shooting and they fell,” Mercury said. “That’s it. We all believe in each other. We all play for each other. We’re all brothers. That’s why we came out with a victory.”
The No. 10-seeded Cougars (11-10) have been playing with a short bench this post season after their best player was ejected from his second game of the season. Another top player is out injured.
“I’m really tired,” Kittrell said. “It was really crazy but we just held our composure, held it down and got the W for our team.”
No. 6 St. Mary’s (14-9) was the defending Division 4 champs.
“It hurts, it hurts,” St. Mary’s coach Kevin Moran said. “We didn’t seem to come with the same energy today that I think was necessary to win a game at this level.”
Snowden, who lost to Manchester-Essex in the quarter finals last year, is now one victory away from playing at the TD Garden. The Cougars will play the winner of Tuesday night’s Lowell Catholic-Lynnfield game on at 7:45 on Friday night at Emmanuel College.
“We’ve been telling our kids all year we have to fight for 32 minutes to get it done,” Snowden coach Paul Rogers said. “We didn’t realize it was going to take, what, 40 minutes to get it done tonight. But hey, they are tough kids, they know what it takes to win.
“We’ve been here before. We lost to the No. 1 seed last year and we just know if we keep playing and keep pushing we’re going to fight through. Our goal has been to make it to the Garden all year and we’re right on our way. We’re right where we want to be.”
Kittrell, who attends the Josiah Quincy Upper School in Chinatown, has been playing for Snowden since eighth grade because his school co-ops with Snowden since they don’t have a team of their own.
He said he’s been to the state tournament every year since he’s been on the team.
“It’s crazy. I don’t think we’ve been that far,” he said. “I’ve been playing since I was in eighth grade and we never made it this far.”
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