The Bishop Connolly boys’ basketball team is headed to TD Garden. The Cougars will attempt to capture its first state championship after holding on to defeat Cohasset, 67-61, at Taunton High on Saturday, in the Division 4 South final. Bishop Connolly will play North champion Lynnfield on Tuesday.
The Cougars (18-6) got off to a great start, connecting on their first six shots to take a 15-6 lead. Bishop Connolly was led by sophomore center Konrad Bradbury, who was a force in the paint. Bradbury (13 points and 17 rebounds) had 13 rebounds before halftime.
Cohasset (20-5) bounced right back despite being physically overmatched. The Skippers cut the deficit to 19-18 midway through the second quarter. Bishop Connolly answered with a 17-7 run as cocaptains John Goncalo (17 points) and Thomas Keyes (21 points), along with Brian Quinn (12 points) paced an attack that gave the Cougars a 36-25 lead at halftime.
The game took a turn midway through the third when Bradbury was assessed his third foul and was forced to the bench for the next five minutes with his team holding a 43-30 lead. It was the only substitution of the game for Bishop Connolly.
“We knew that we had to take him out of the game and hold on to the end of the third quarter, without him,” Bishop Connolly coach Matt Coute said. “When the lead began to shrink, we still had the confidence that with our five starters back in there for the fourth quarter, we would be able to hold Cohasset off.’’ We were fortunate to do so and got contributions from the whole team and made our free throws at the end.”
Cohasset did take advantage of Bishop Connolly’s foul trouble and fatigue. Behind the efforts of senior cocaptains Christian Davis, who had 24 points (including five 3-pointers in the second half) and Shane Haggerty (20 points), the Skippers cut the deficit to 45-42 entering the final quarter.
The Skippers managed to take its first and only lead with 1:30 remaining when Davis hit a jumper for a 58-57 advantage. The lead was shortlived as Bradbury scored on an offensive rebound and was fouled. Bradbury hit the free throw to give Bishop Connolly a 60-58 lead with 1:09 left.
“This is the best game from an execution standpoint that I’ve had,” Bradbury said.
Bishop Connolly preserved the victory with three great defensive efforts and six consecutive free throws in the final minute.
Lynnfield 58, Snowden 44 — Coming in to the North championship, Lynnfield coach Scott McKenzie said his team had played a combined nine minutes of zone this season.
That must have been all the experienced they needed.
Lynnfield held Snowden to four field goals in the first half and cruised to victory.
“I don’t think there was a doubt in these kids minds that they were going to win the game,” McKenzie said. “I think these kids we’re just confident as heck and it shows in the way they played.”
Junior Edward Moore’s 3-pointer sparked a 10-0 Lynnfield run, which was capped by senior Patrick Kearney’s 3-pointer.
“He’s a safety net that most teams don’t have,” McKenzie said of Kearney, the Cape Ann League Division 2 player of the year. “He’s the best player I’ve ever coached, and I’ve been in the program for 13 years. He is fantastic.”
Senior Jaquann Smith’s 3-pointer with 1:14 left in the quarter ended the run, but it was Snowden’s lone field goal in the quarter because of Lynnfield’s 2-3 zone.
“We knew that they had an athletic advantage on us, they like to run a lot of isolation stuff on the perimeter. That’s just not our thing, we’re not that athletic,” McKenzie said.
For Snowden, the loss marks the end of a great run to the city tournament and although they will not make a trip to the Garden, coach Paul Rogers still found positives.
“With the guys that got this game experience, where it really counts, hopefully we’ll come back more focused, ready to compete again for a state championship,” Rogers said.