WORCESTER — Aaron Hall waited anxiously on the bench, hoping for one more shot with the game on line.
Unfortunately for Hall and Central Catholic, the Raiders senior big man was left to cheer from the sidelines for much of last night, and he was not alone.
With Putnam slashing to the hoop early and often, Central Catholic found itself in major early foul trouble, greatly disrupting the Raiders’ plan.
Before the first half had come to a close, both Hall and Nick Cambio had been whistled for three fouls, two away from fouling out of the game.
That meant both spent extensive first half time on the bench. While Cambio was able to overcome the foul woes, Hall picked up his fourth early in the third and fouled out in the fourth.
It wasn’t just on offense, as Putnam found a number of easy baskets without having to contend with Hall and Cambio forced to play carefully. It helped the Beavers hold on for a 74-70 and their second consecutive Division 1 state titles.
“When you lose two of your bigs, it really throws you off,” said Raiders coach Rick Nault. “There were times our tallest guy on the floor was 6-feet tall. That hurt us in rebounding and on defense.”
Just five days after the twin terrors carved up Catholic Memorial on the TD Garden floor, Cambio was forced to play gingerly in the second half and Hall managed just a single hoop.
“We have relied on those two big guys the whole tournament,” said Nault. “They have dominated for us. To have them out for extended minutes hurts a lot. Hall getting hit with that fourth hurt. We asked Alex Santos (6-foot) to defend (6-foot-4) Tyronne Malone, and he did his best.”
Both Hall and Santos fouled out. That was great news for Putnam head coach William Shepard.