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March 17, 2013

Call her Casey 'Clutch'

Central's sensation was the biggest star in biggest moment

WORCESTER — There’s a reason the highly-touted Holy Name of Worcester girls basketball team, before 6,000 fans at DCU Arena, couldn’t get closer than four points the entire night after trailing 6-1 to Central Catholic just three minutes into the game.

Casey McLaughlin wouldn’t let them. Literally.

The Central Catholic senior not only finished her career scoring 27 points in the Div. 1 girls state championship game, more than half of her team’s points in the 53-48 win over Holy Name, but she did it when it mattered most.

“That’s Casey,” said Central’s 5-foot-2 spark plug, Alexandra Nagri, of Salem, N.H. “We have a lot of good players here. Everybody plays a role. On this team, Casey is our go-to player.”

This, though, was bigger than being a “go-to” gal. The was the stuff of legends. This was something we’d expect — and saw — from Andover High great Nicole Boudreau.

Holy Name got within four or five points on seven occasions in the second half — 31-26, 33-28, 36-30, 40-36, 44-38, 46-41 and 48-43.

McLaughlin was seven-for-seven with the dagger. “Clutch” might not be strong enough of a descriptive word.

“What an athlete! What a competitor!” exclaimed Central coach Sue Downer afterward. “I can’t put into words how important she has been to our program. She played her best game when it mattered most.”

It was a repeat performance of sorts. McLaughlin scored 18 points in the win over Braintree, also grabbing 17 rebounds while going against three 6-foot-plus defenders, two of whom are eventually headed to Boston College.

This time, McLaughlin was head-to-head with 6-foot-2 junior Brianna Frias, who is headed to Providence College in September of 2014.

Most of those “clutch” hoops were with Frias on McLaughlin.

“You can see the determination in her face,” said Frias. “You can see that she’s quick on film. But she’s quicker in person. She’s unbelievably quick.”

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