Courtney Walsh drained two free throws with 7.8 seconds left to help Central Catholic clinch the Division 1 EMass championship as the No. 12 Raiders defeated third-ranked Braintree in a dramatic 55-51 win.
Central Catholic will move on to the Division 1 state final Saturday at the DCU Center in Worcester.
Trailing by 12 in the fourth quarter, Braintree attempted to fight its way back in the final quarter when the Wamps forced a 24-second shot clock violation after cutting the deficit to two points, 53-51, with 51 seconds left in the fourth quarter. But Casey McLaughlin, who scored 18 points on the night for Central Catholic, came up with a huge steal.
“I just did not want anyone getting that ball, I just wanted to end the game,” McLaughlin said.
Braintree upped its defense in the final minutes of the fourth quarter and put together a 12-2 run to close the gap.
“They definitely stepped up the defense in the fourth quarter, so it was a tight game. They’re a great defensive team, so we just need to relax and get back on our defensive end and not let them get second opportunities,” McLaughlin said.
Several reporters and editors contribute updates, news and analysis to the High School Sports Blog.
- Bob Holmes: A Reading resident (Go Rockets!) and Boston College graduate, Holmes is the Boston Globe High School Sports Editor. We remind you now that his weekly picks are often made in jest so everyone just calm down when he picks against Everett for 11 straight weeks. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeHolmes.
- Craig Larson: A native of West Springfield (Leo Durocher anyone? Tim Daggett?) and Curry College graduate (a proud Colonel!), Larson is the sports editor for the Globe's regional sections: South, West and North, as well as a frequent contributor on the college beat. Abington to Xaverian: it all starts with the schools. Have a compelling story idea? Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeLars.
- Zuri Berry: Berry attended the same high school as sports legends O.J. Simpson and Joe DiMaggio. (Guess which one is his hero.) He's a South Boston resident (formerly of Eastie) and the editor of the High School Sports blog as well as the go-to-guy for everything high school sports on Boston.com. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @GlobeSchools for all of the latest updates.
Then there are our winter correspondents:
- Emily McCarthy | @EmilyMcCahthy | BPS correspondent
- Jake Fischer | @GlobeFischer | Boys basketball
- Michelle Fenelon | @michfenelon | Girls basketball
- Andrew MacDougall | @Andy_MacDougall | Boys hockey
- Liz Torres | @etorres446 | Girls hockey
To reach the high school sports department, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.