Cardinals blow past Mansfield for first sectional title since 1982
By Jamie Rosa and Justin A. Rice
The Madison Park boys’ basketball team won its first South Sectional title since 1982 on Friday night, defeating Mansfield High 72-60 at TD Garden.
“I’m so much more happy for them, they worked for this since March,” Madison Park coach Dennis Wilson said after coaching his first game at the Garden. “We got three honor roll students and we all get along. They deserve all the accolades and the praise that they get.”
Senior center David Campbell led the way for the top-ranked Cardinals (22-1) with a game-high 29 points while senior guard Spencer Braithwaite contributed 19 points.
“I knew I had to catch it off the rebound, go right up and throw it right up,” Campbell said.
Madison Park came out strong from the tip, using a 7-0 run to go ahead 21-12 with just more than a minute to play in the opening quarter, which ended with Braithwaite’s half court shot at the buzzer.
“Lucky shot I guess, I guess I was just feeling it a little bit,” Braithwaite said of the shot that put his team up 24-15. “It probably hurt them a little bit going into the second quarter. I just think it was a good shot.”
With 5:15 to play in the second quarter, Braithwaite dazzled the crowd again, this time with a back-to-the-basket, over-the-shoulder bucket to put MP up 32-19. He was fouled but failed to convert the 3-point play.
“That shot, I was all off balance,” Braithwaite said. “If I didn’t lose the ball I would’ve had a better shot so I guess it was alright.”
Braithwaite hit another shot as time expired at the end of the half but this time the refs disallowed the shot.
“I thought it was good but the ‘NBA’ officials called it off,” Braithwaite said.
Despite Braithwaite’s heroics, the Cardinals—who gave up a 19-point halftime lead in the semifinals to Brockton—failed to put Mansfield away. Going up 13 points at one point, MP went into halftime with a 40-31 edge.
No. 3-seed Mansfield (22-2) Mansfield never got within seven-points in the second half as Madison Park eventually opened up a 15-point lead and cruised to victory.
“The key thing I stress is play how we play, rebounds, block shots, cover the floor, do what we do, run,” Wilson said. “We’re greyhounds and you don’t keep greyhounds locked up.”
But as well as the Cardinals played on the parquet floor on Friday night, they know they have to ground themselves this weekend and do it all over again in the Eastern Mass final on Monday. They will play the winner of Friday night’s Central Catholic-St. John’s Prep game back at the Garden.
“We just have to stay humble and execute,” said senior forward Jamal McCollum, who added eight points, “because we haven’t got it all yet.
Jamie Rosa is a junior football player at South Boston High. He can be reached at email@example.com.