BOSTON -– For 24 minutes, North Quincy was able to keep within striking distance of the top-seeded Mansfield Hornets. But in the final eight minutes, the Hornets took complete control, outscoring the Raiders 16-8, on their way to a 57-45 win to be crowned the Division 1 South Sectional Champions.
The Raiders were trailing at the end of each of the first three quarters, but responded each time Mansfield tried to pull away. Down six at 41-35 to start the fourth quarter, it looked like the Red Raiders were ready to make their move. Senior Marquis McClendon came away with a quick steal and finish to cut it to four.
But Mansfield sophomore Ryan Boutler answered with the game’s next seven points -- including two three’s -- to give the Hornets their first double-digit lead of the game at 48-37.
After an empty trip from the Raiders, Mansfield junior Kyle Wisnieski hit a straightaway three to essentially seal the win for the Hornets.
“Our goal is to win tournament games, and we’ve done that,” Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan said. “Now we will go as far as our talent and our effort will take us.”
Wisnieski and Boulter -– both who come off the bench for Mansfield -– each finished with a team-high 16 points, with Wisnieski scoring 8 in the third and Boulter hitting a three in each quarter.
“Hats off to Kyle Wisnieski,” Vaughan said. “He was the game MVP today in my mind. He came up with two huge threes, plays awesome defense, and gets a couple baskets penetrating to the basket.”
Wisnieski has started for Mansfield this season, but adjustments have changed his role for the Hornets, something Vaughan said he has embraced.
“We took him out of the starting line up to move some match ups,” Vaughan said. “Talk about a kid who has excepted his role. He’s the type of kid we have in this program and that’s why we’re here.”
Wisnieski, who also quarterbacked Mansfield to a Super Bowl appearance in the fall, was key in keeping the Hornets ahead in the third.
When Dan Gould’s layup brought North Quincy within two at 30-28, Wisnieski answered to extend it back to four. When Patrick Gould’s field goal made it 35-32, Wisnieski hit his first of two three’s. And when it looked like North Quincy would just be down four heading into the final frame, Wisnieski drew a foul on a drive and converted both free throws to make it 41-35.
“After shooting the ball so well, Ryan [Boulter] and Greg [Romanko] were getting a lot of attention and obviously Brendan [Hill] draws attention every game we play,” Wisnieski said. “I just happened to get open looks and they were going in for me tonight.”
Hill, just a sophomore, did demand plenty of North Quincy’s defensive attention and although only scored 5 points, balanced it out with 11 rebounds and six assists.
Daniel Gould finished with a team-high 16 points for the Raiders. Efthim Butka chipped in with 10 and Anthony Green had 8.
Mansfield will now meet Central Catholic –- the North champions -– in the D1 State Semifinals. The game will be played at the TD Garden.
“I saw them over the Christmas break, they’re phenomenal,” Vaughan said about Central Catholic. “We’ll be ready but we have our work cut out for us.”