NEPSAC Crowns Champions
Western New England University was the site of NEPSAC finals on Sunday in classes AAA, AA, and A. All three were high level games that went all the way down the wire as New Hampton School, Wilbraham and Monson Academy, and Loomis Chaffee School captured championships.
Here’s a complete rundown of the action:
New Hampton 99 Brewster Academy 91
New Hampton held a 49-40 lead going into halftime and then pushed that advantage into the teens early in the second. Down the stretch though, it was starting to slip away and when Brewster went up 82-77 with under three minutes to play, it felt like they had the championship firmly in their grasp. That’s when Christian Davis delivered back-to-back three-pointers to give the Huskies back the lead. A Matt Cross tip-in on the other gave Brewster back a one-point lead with 40 seconds left on the clock. Now it was Matt Becker’s turn as he converted a three-point play with a hard lefty drive and finish. When Kadary Richmond, who was at his best all game, came right back with a drive of his own, the game was tied with just seconds left. The Huskies had one chance to win it in regulation but an Alex Karaban potential buzzer-beater rolled just off the rim.
That would be the last shot that Karaban would miss on the evening as he cemented a huge, 31-point, performance with a pair of buckets down the stretch in overtime to push NHS’ lead to 96-89 with under a minute to play in the extra session. The sophomore would go on to win MVP honors as the Huskies secured the championship in Andrew Gale’s first season as the program’s head coach.
Wilbraham & Monson 86 Worcester Academy 81
The Class AA championship game was one of wild runs. Worcester opened the game on a 10-2 and was in control for the entire first-half, taking a 42-35 advantage into halftime. The Titans opened the second-half a new team though, going on a 17-5 run to take the lead. Sophomore Kyle Filipowski was sensational. He had 18 of his team’s 29 first-half points and 26 of his team’s first 47. While the sophomore carried the team early, WMA’s offense had multiple contributors, and was nearly unstoppable down the stretch. Keller Boothby and Cinque Stephens were both huge down the stretch as Boothby splashed deep jumpers, including a pivotal one in the final moments, and Stephens provided dribble penetration. Both players finished with 19. Wilbraham was also near perfect at the free-throw line, going 27-30 as a team. Worcester was led by sophomore guard Dasonte Bowen, who finished with 23 points, while Judson Martindale did his best to bring the team back late, scoring 6 of his 17 points in the final moments.
Loomis Chaffee 84 Hotchkiss 79
Top-seeded Loomis earned a hard-fought win over second-seeded Hotchkiss in a well-played, fast-paced game. Dayton bound post-graduate RJ Blakney scored a game high 27 points to claim MVP honors and was dominant for stretches in the second half, not just showing his athletic attack of the rim but also making a couple of deep threes. Nate Santos and Josh Menard, who keyed Saturday’s semifinal win, helped the team get going and led the way for the majority of the first-half, finishing with 20 and 18 points respectively. Hotchkiss had five players finish in double figures as Dartmouth bound Dusan Neskovic finished with 21 points and Boston University bound guard Miles Brewster finished with 19.
At Worcester State, the NEPSAC also crowned champions in Classes B, C, and D. Canterbury School, who surived a double-overtime match-up with St. George's a day earlier, knocked off Brooks to win the Class B championship. In Class C, the Hyde School defeated MacDuffie school to win that title. Darrow School opened the day by knocking off New York Military Academy to take the Class D championship.