LOWELL — For three varsity seasons, Central Catholic’s Casey McLaughlin worked and waited for her chance at a Division 1 North title and an opportunity to play for a state championship.
For three years, she had to watch archrival Andover High celebrate the title, and dream of her chance.
Last night, McLaughlin and the rest of the Raiders grabbed their opportunity.
Central Catholic overcame a fourth-quarter surge by Westford Academy and locked up its first Division 1 North championship since its state title season of 2008-09 with a 60-51 victory at the Tsongas Center last night.
“I have never won a North title, so this is pretty amazing,” said McLaughlin. “I’ve been waiting for this for four years, so I am so happy to finally get it. All of us have been wanting this for so long, and we kept falling short. So to do this is great.”
The Raiders advance to the Division 1 state semifinal to take on South champ Braintree (23-2) at the TD Garden on Monday.
“I haven’t been to the Garden since I was a freshman,” said McLaughlin. “I am so excited for that game. It is going to be battle, and I can’t wait to play there again.”
McLaughlin, in fact, is the only member of the Raiders who has played at the Garden, as a freshman on the varsity team when the Celtics’ home arena hosted the North finals.
“It’s going to be like nothing I have ever experienced,” said junior Caitlin Dell’Orfano. “We have been working for this for three years, so to finally get to the Garden is a dream. We HAD to win this game.”
After years of frustration, the Raiders were dying for the opportunity last night.
“You should have seen us in the locker room before the game,” said Darion Summers, the only other senior on the team. “We were so crazy. We were ready to go to war. We had waited so long for this chance.”