Central Catholic ends Cardinals run
By Jamie Rosa and Justin A. Rice
With 30 seconds left in Monday night’s EMass Final, Madison Park trailed Central Catholic by 10 points when the Cardinals’ coach Dennis Wilson walked down his bench and shook each and every one of his players hands, thanking them for the magical run that was the longest in program history.
“That was about thanking them for the season, thanking them for the love that we have for each other and thanking them for all of the love and joy that they brought to me and this school and this community,” Wilson said after the 59-50 loss at TD Garden.
“These guys don’t just represent Madison Park they represent Boston and I think we represented them in a fine fashion.”
Madison Park (22-2) had its championship dreams crushed by the Raiders (25-1), who advance to Saturday’s state title game in Worcester.
Madison cut the lead to two in the fourth quarter with a strong layup from senior center David Campbell with 5:50 remaining to make the score, 49-47.
But Central sophomore guard Luis Puello responded by draining a back-breaking 3-pointer with 4:17 left.
Six different players scored in Central Catholic’s 11-2 run that closed out the game despite the Raiders’ poor free throw shooting.
Both teams shot under 50 percent from the charity stripe, but Central Catholic was 5-for-11 from the line in the final five minutes.
Central’s senior center Carson Desrosiers, who will play for Wake Forest next season, said his team also struggled with the Cardinals’ half-court press.
“They went on runs but we knew it was going to happen, we went on runs but it was good,” Desrosiers said “We struggled on free throws, if we hit our free throws it would be a little different ending.”
Desrosiers finished with a game-high 20 points while Campbell went toe-to-toe with the 6-foot-11-inch big man, scoring a team-high 15 for MP.
“It was real tough, I had to change how I shot my shot, change how I attacked the basket and everything so it was real tough,” Campbell said. “That was the game plan to attack the big man and get him in foul trouble and after he’s in foul trouble just go up by 10 and 15 and it would be a good game. But he wasn’t biting.
“That gives me confidence going into college, working with other big men stronger than me to get me ready.”
From the tip, Central Catholic looked like it would dominate the game, opening with a 7-0 run. Madison Park managed to get within two, 12-10, on Tyler Pettus’s 3-pointer before the Raiders finished the quarter with a 12-2 run to go up 22-13 that looked like it would break the Cardinals back.
But the Cardinals came out swinging in the second quarter, using a 12-2 run of its own to take its first lead of the game, 26-23, with 4:32 left in the half before ultimately trailing 34-29 at the break.
Madison Park finished 7-for-17 from the free throw line.
“They got a couple stops, we missed a ton of free throws and ultimately they won,” said senior guard Spencer Braithwaite, who was the only other Cardinal in double figures with 11 points. “This is my senior year and I don’t want to end my senior year like this but we came pretty far and I can’t be upset.
“I’m a little choked up right now because I’m a little upset but I love my team. We came a long way.”
Madison Park was built around nine seniors and Wilson will have to build a whole new team next year with only three returning players.
“It’s back to the drawing board with these young guys, I got two freshmen and a junior so they’re of course not going to be ready by next year but they’re going to have to work as hard as these guys worked in the weight room, running and working on their skills, developing their weaknesses,” Wilson said.
“I’m bummed out and I’m disappointed because I believe we could’ve been and should’ve been number one in the state and that’s no knock to Central Catholic. I do realize all the success and things that we achieved but I felt we came up two wins short.”
Wilson said he is proud that the team won back-to-back conference and city championships and brought so much joy to the players, their families and supporters.
“So that’s what it’s all about,” he said. “It’s a bummer but there’s that underlying joy and happiness of what they’ve done and what they accomplished.”
Jamie Rosa is a junior football player at South Boston High. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.