Div. 4 Finals: St. Mary's (Lynn) 70, Cathedral 64

BOSTON -- The St. Mary’s of Lynn players had to be told to stop celebrating with their fans after their 70-64 Division 4 State Championship win over Boston Cathedral High School Monday.

As the teams prepared to line up for the postgame trophy presentation, the St. Mary’s student section roared loudly, and its players did not want to keep them waiting. Before the ceremony could begin, the team walked over to its fellow students and literally crawled over folding chairs and the barrier to get to them.

After a few moments, St. Mary’s coach Kevin Moran and tournament administrators told them to get back to the court, and the trophy presentations commenced.

“It’s unbelievable, words can’t describe how I feel right now, they really can’t,” said St. Mary’s senior guard Nick Gagliolo (19 points).

It was not a normal state championship battle, where teams are more than likely to play a team it had only scouted from afar and never played before. That was not the case with Cathedral (18-7) and the Spartans (21-4), who are conference foes.

The two teams met twice during the regular season, with each team taking a game.

“It’s better (to play a team you’ve seen before),” said Gagliolo. “There was no surprises. Obviously we played them twice, and they were battles both games. It was great that we came out successful today.”

The two teams went back and forth in the first quarter, but St. Mary’s was able to get out to a lead in the second, outscoring the Panthers 15-8 in the quarter, and took a 32-23 lead into the half.

“We knew they had five or six athletes there that were going to come after us,” said Moran. “We tried to get on their three-point shots, and I think our offense started to flow a little bit. Once that did, it kind of made it a little easier for us.”

The St. Mary’s lead remained around 10 points throughout the third. It was not until the final quarter that Cathedral made a run, cutting the St. Mary’s lead to 62-58.

“On their run, our focus was that we had to stop them on transition,” said junior guard Randolf Thurman. “We had to box everybody out and then we also had to run through our plays and keep our composure.”

Cathedral’s Kyle Lawyer (26 points) had 10 points in the final frame for his team, and was a big reason why his team was in the game towards the end.

St. Mary’s didn’t help itself at all, missing 15 free throws throughout the course of the game.

However, it was the timely baskets by Devin Thompson (25 points) and Gagliolo down the stretch that helped St. Mary’s maintain its lead and ultimately win its first state championship since 2002.

Replenished by Randolf: One big difference between this game and the last time the two teams played (a 74-61 Cathedral victory on Feb. 17) was the presence of Randolf Thurman. He missed the last meeting, but came back in a big way, contributing 14 points in the win.

“We play some great, great kids, but from my perspective he’s the best guard around that I’ve seen,” said Moran. “He can do it all. He had assists, points, steals, rebounds. He’s just the guy that makes us go.”

“He wasn’t here the last game, but I think, the other thing about our team that is unusual is that we have so many different parts. We have guys like Matt Manning, who doesn’t get in the scorebox a whole lot, we have the scorers, then we have the point guard, and guys that get in there and play some roles for us.”

Spartan Pride: This championship is special for lots of reasons for St. Mary’s. While it is the culmination of a season’s worth of blood, sweat, and tears for a team, for St. Mary’s, it means the basketball team keeps pace with its other winter sports teams.

“Our school’s doing really well right now,” said Thurman. “Hockey teams, girls basketball team, and we just wanted to make our mark in the school and make our school proud.”