By Bill Burt
WORCESTER — After clumsily getting through some early and mid-season defeats, five in all, the Central Catholic girls played their best when it mattered most.
Central ran off six straight wins in the state tournament, finishing off Holy Name of Worcester, 53-48, to win the Div. 1 state title here at the DCU Arena last night.
“I’ll bet a lot of people didn’t think we’d be here after some tough losses,” said Central’s senior captain, Casey McLaughlin, while holding the championship trophy. “But we did it. We came together as a team. We never let it get us down. And we won a state title. I can’t believe we won a state title.”
Well, believe it.
Central played stellar back-to-back games at the TD Garden in the EMass championship, beating Braintree (55-51), and then Holy Name last night. Central entered both games with five losses, while their highly-seeded foes suffered only two defeats.
McLaughlin was the MVP of the game with 27 points, more than half of Central’s output. But McLaughlin had lots of help as star guard Courtney Walsh, a junior, chipped in with 13 and 6-foot Amanda Williams, also a junior, added 10 points and 12 rebounds.
“This has been one of the best years I’ve had coaching because the girls never gave up. Never,” said Central coach Sue Downer, who earned her 301st win at age 43 last night. “These things don’t happen without players that are committed to winning.”
It marks the fifth straight year a Merrimack Valley Conference team has won the girls Div. 1 state title, with Central winning in 2009, and Andover High winning three straight from 2010 to 2012.
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