By Jim Stout
The wait for a championship lasted 90 years. The pain of coming tortuously close in recent seasons had been agonizing.
So what if the Boston College High boys basketball team had to sweat out the final eight minutes of Saturday's Division I final against Holy Name? After everything the Eagles had been through, what was eight more minutes of nervous hand-wringing?
Trailing by 10 points with 7:58 to play and still down by nine with 5:39 left, BC High won its first state title since 1917 as it rallied to win the 2007 Massachusetts Division 1 title with a 56-52 win over Holy Name at the DCU Center in Worcester.
For BC, which finished at 25-0 overall, the victory ended a recent string of failures and frustrations in the postseason, endings that had come following otherwise stellar regular seasons.
A year ago, the second-seeded Eagles fell to Madison Park by three points in the South Sectional semifinals. In 2005, they lost to Bridgewater-Raynham in the South quarterfinals. In 2004, Brookline eliminated BC in the sectional final. Brookline also knocked BC out in 2002, while it was Durfee that turned the elimination trick in 2003.
There was no denying the Eagles this time, late-game deficit or not.
"I'm just so happy for my team," BC coach Bill Loughnane told the Boston Herald. "They worked so hard every day in practice. They were a joy to be around and we're going to miss these seniors real bad."
BC High was sparked by the play of senior point guard Chris Hurley, who scored a game-high 18 points, while contributing six assists and seven steals.
"Any time you have a point guard as good as Chris on the floor, it allows other guys to do an awful lot," said Loughnane, who was a point guard himself at Northeastern University under then coach Jim Calhoun.
"You saw tonight, in the last five minutes, (Hurley) did not allow us to lose."
Holy Name, 20-5 and champions of the Central Section, held a 10-point lead at 46-36 with left in regulation. It was the first time since the regular-season opener at Brockton that BC High had trailed by 10 or more in a game. Holy Name still led 48-39 with to go.
With the score tied at 48, Mike Baldarelli would give Holy Name its last lead with a free throw, setting the scene for one of the key plays of the game, a three-pointer by Nick McLaughlin with 1:34 showing, one that put BC High ahead to stay. Brian Mahoney hit a another three-pointer with 15 seconds remaining to boost B.C.'s lead to 54-49.
"Brian Mahoney hits the biggest shot of the season taking in Tim McKinney's place (following a knee injury), and the happiest person on the bench was Tim McKinney," Loughnane said.
Now it's Holy Name that has to figure out how to win the big one again. The Naps, playing without injured point guard Dan Onorato, dropped their second-consecutive Division 1 final. A year ago they lost to another undefeated team, Newton North.
"The (BC High) pressure really affected us," Holy Name coach Jason Chavoor said. "It put guys in situations they really aren't used to."
The BC High hockey team then went out on Sunday and capped the wild weekend for the Eagles by winning the elite Super 8 championship with a 6-1 victory over Weymouth at TD Banknorth Garden.
Tantasqua Regional Pulls Out Another Thriller
Another 25-0 team, Tantasqua Regional, also came from behind in the second half to capture the state Division 2 championship at the DCU Center as the Warriors beat Catholic Memorial, 64-58, in Saturday's final.
Tantasqua trailed 48-39 with nine minutes left, but went on a 25-10 run to end the game and win the title in front of 4,000 fans. Catholic Memorial finished at 20-6.
Senior Andrew Kazanovicz scored 16 points for Tantasqua, including the 1,000th of his career, while junior Brian Vayda also had 16, and senior Terry Peretti scored 15. The Warriors went 21-of-28 shots from the foul line.
"I'm just so proud of the kids, they deserve it and they worked so hard," Tantasqua coach Jeff Child told the Worcester Telegram. "It hasn't really sunk in yet."
"You have to give credit to their (Tantasqua's) defense," Catholic Memorial coach Denis Tobin said. "They got the momentum (in the second half) and in the state tournament, momentum is everything. We didn't shoot as well as we have all year. We needed to make a couple of those shots to increase the tempo of the game and we didn't do that."
Though Tantasqua had been seeded No. 1 for the Central sectionals, it had to go to overtime to beat St. Bernard for the Division 2 section title, then edged South Hadley. 64-59, to reach the state championship game.
Coppola Lends (Broken) Hand to Watertown Title
Despite playing with a broken bone in his shooting hand, Anthony Coppola scored a team-high 24 points to lead Watertown (22-3) to its first state title with a 62-61 win over defending champion Sabis International Charter in the Division 3 final in Worcester.
Coppola had broken his hand in practice the day before the Red Raiders' Eastern Mass sectional final win over Medfield last week.
"It's unbelievable," Coppola told the Boston Globe. "This is the best feeling of my life."
Watertown's last appearance in a state final had been a 66-52 loss to Lexington in the 1971 Class B final.
Defending champ Sabis, meanwhile, had trailed by as many as 16 points in the first half and was in an 11-point hole to start the second half before rallying.
"We came out a little gun-shy; we were a little reserved for what we like to bring on the defensive side of the basketball," Sabis coach Dan Sullivan told the Springfield Republican. "The adjustment we made just before the half really gave us momentum going into it. Our 1-2-2 press really allowed us to bring forth our athleticism."
Sabis closed out its season at 21-4. Isaiah Wallace had 24 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists for the Bulldogs.
Boston Cathedral Takes Division 4
Boston Cathedral won the abbreviated Division 4 state title on March 13 with a 55-52 win over Savio Prep, a final that pitted the winners of the North and South Sectional titles against each other. There are no Division 4 playoffs in either the West or Central regions in Massachusetts.
Jim Stout is the MaxPreps.com Master Photographer for the Massachusetts/Rhode Island area and a Northeast Region columnist. He may be reached at (203) 563-2297 or at firstname.lastname@example.org