Cinderella still had her dancing shoes on early in Wednesday night’s final as Northfield Mount Hermon, riding a wave of momentum coming into the game, quickly built up a double digit lead.
Laurent Rivard was the story to start the game as the Harvard bound guard was splashing shots from all over the court. But true to their form, Brewster Academy would chip away and only trail by six heading into the locker room.
NMH continued to carry a slim lead throughout the majority of the second half, this time relying on Hector Harold to make big shot after big shot to carry the team. But with their backs against the wall, Brewster would again answer the challenge as various players would step up and make plays. Big man Mo Walker scored a couple of key buckets inside the paint while Melvin Ejim exploited a mismatch with Majok Majok, pulling NMH’s shot blocker away from the rim and beating him off the dribble.
Ultimately, it came down to the final possession of regulation with the score tied and Brewster putting the ball in Will Barton’s hands at the top of the key. Barton penetrated to the left side and got stuck in the air when NMH’s defense rotated to stop the ball. He found teammate Austin Carroll just before landing and Carroll made a quick drive and almost got a runner to drop as time expired forcing an overtime.
Brewster quickly jumped ahead in the opening period, and when they were up by six it with a minute to play it looked like they were on the verge of pulling away until NMH’s Harold hit his latest big shot, this a three from the right wing to make it a one possession game.
With approximately 45 seconds left to play in the game, NMH elected to defend instead of sending Brewster to the free-throw line and the strategy payed off as they got their stop and possession of the ball with 10 seconds left to play, trailing 79-76. NMH ultimately got two chances to diagram a three-point play but Brewster defended both sets beautifully and never allowed NMH another good look at the basket.
Joe Sharkey made a valiant attempt at a fade-away 35 footer with two hands in his face but when the shot fell off the rim the celebration was on as Brewster Academy captured their first ever National Prep Championship.
Will Barton earned team MVP honors after scoring a game high 23 points while Walker, Ejim, and C.J. Fair also scored in double figures.
For NMH the loss ended what had been a tremendous run through the tournament field, beginning with a win over fourth seeded Notre Dame Prep and then an upset of top seeded and previously undefeated Hargreave Military Academy.
For Brewster the win was the culmination of a steady development throughout the season. Projected by most as one of the top two teams in the country in the pre-season, Brewster lived up to that and more as they are the first team to capture the NEPSAC Class A title and the National Prep Championship in the same year.