BOSTON — As teammate Jimmy Zenevitch fired up a pair of free throws in the game's final seconds last night, Central Catholic star Carson Desrosiers took a moment to bask in the singing of the Raiders' alma mater near the Boston Celtics' logo at center court.
"It was something I'm never going to forget," said Desrosiers. "It was such a relief that we survived. Now we want to come out on top one more time. We'll celebrate for a day, then focus again."
Desrosiers had reason to celebrate, delivering another outstanding performance and receiving plenty of contributions from role players as Central Catholic rode a stellar fourth quarter to a berth in the Division 1 title game by downing Madison Park in the Division 1 semifinals last night at the TD Garden.
"Unbelievable," said Zenevitch. "To go in and win two games at the Garden is huge. So many guys stepped up, and going back to the title game is amazing."
The Raiders (25-1) advance to the Division 1 title game at 7:45 p.m. Saturday at the DCU Center in Worcester. They will face the winner of today's battle between St. John's of Shrewsbury and East Longmeadow. It could be Central Catholic's second title in three years, having downed St. John's of Shrewsbury for the crown two years ago.
"Guys like Carson and Jimmy were here for a title two years ago," said point guard Jaycob Morales. "So they want a second ring, and a lot of us are eying our first ring. We want that state championship."
Having forced Desrosiers to the bench with four fouls early in the fourth, Madison Park was able to muster a late rally.
With a free throw and a basket by David Campbell, the Cardinals cut the lead to just two points (49-47) moments into the final frame. But that would be as close as they would get.
"We just looked up and said it was a new ball game," said Morales. "The fourth quarter was a whole new show because it was one quarter for the chance at a state title. We weren't letting it get away."
After the Campbell bucket, the Raiders simply locked down. Central Catholic allowed just three points over the final 9:14 of play, two of which coming on a basket as time expired.
"We do what we do, we defend," said Central head coach Rick Nault. "There wasn't a lot of panic when Carson had to come out of the game. We kept playing defense, and whenever they needed a basket, we were able to come up with a stop."
The Raiders also managed just two baskets in the fourth, but a 3-pointer by Morales and a driving layup by football quarterback Andrew Ouellette were enough, along with five combined three throws.
"The fourth was huge," said Ouellette. "We came out with a lot of energy and closed them out. I had gotten blocked earlier in the game, so I made an adjustment and hit a shot. And Jaycob jacked one up from NBA (3-point) range and we all said, 'Oh no!' But it went in."
Desrosiers was once again a force from the opening tip, despite battling foul trouble. The Division 1-bound center scored a game-high 20 points, grabbed 20 rebounds and blocked nine shots. And all that was while battling hulking 6-foot-5 Cardinals center David Campbell (team-best 15 points).
Jimmy Zenevitch added 12 points, Morales had nine and sophomore Luis Puello drew rave reviews for his work guarding Madison Park guard Spencer Braithwaite.
"I really can't say enough about how everyone played today," said Desrosiers. "So many different people stepped up. It is a great feeling. But we want to be on top again. We want one more win in Worcester."
Central Catholic 59, Madison Park 50
Division 1 State Semifinal
Madison Park (50): David Campbell 7 1-5 15, Jamill Moquete 2 0-0 5, Spenser Braithwaite 5 1-2 11, Tyler Pettus 2 0-0 6, Jamal McCollum 3 3-6 9, Khayree Hudson 0 2-2 2, Kevin Stokes 0 0-2 0, Dave Stewart 1 0-0 2. Totals 20 7-17 50
Central Catholic (59): Carson Desrosiers 8 3-8 20, Jimmy Zenevitch 5 2-6 12, Luis Puello 2 1-2 6, Michael Alvarez 0 1-2 1, Jaycob Morales 3 1-4 9, Evan Sheehan 1 1-2 3, Andrew Ouellette 1 0-0 2, Cam Wroblewski 1 0-0 3, Chris Conlin 1 0-0 3, Jose Battistine 0 0-0 0, Zack Bardwell 0 0-0 0, Brandon Curley 0 0-0 0, Shawn McCoy 0 0-0 0. Totals 22 9-24 59
3-pointers: CC — Morales 2, Desrosiers, Puello, Conlin, Wroblewski; MP — Pettus 2, Moquete
Madison Park (21-2):13âÇ16âÇ15âÇâÇ6 — 50
Central Catholic (25-1):22âÇ12âÇ15âÇ10 — 59
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