BOSTON -- When Westport made their move in the fourth quarter, Cardinal Spellman had the answer, leading the Cardinals to a 45-34 win in the Division 3 South Finals.
The Wildcats made it a two possession game twice midway through the fourth quarter, but each time Spellman had answer - and it might not have been who you'd expect.
After trailing by 10 to start the final quarter, Westport was able to cut the lead to five at 37-32 after five straight points from Jacob Bailey. But on the offensive end, Spellman responded as point guard Ryan Roach fed senior Austin Joseph for a huge three-pointer to make it 40-34. Westport's Richard Hartnett knocked down two shots from the free throw line to cut it to six and then the Wildcats snuffed out an inside lob to get possession back.
But just as fast as the momentum had swung in favor of Westport, Spellman's Brian Donohoe made one of the biggest plays of the game to essentially seal the game. The senior swiped away the ball just seconds after Westport's steal, handed it off to senior point guard Ryan Roach for an easy two and the momentum completely swung back to the Cardinals.
Thought just two points in the game, Donohoe collected a game-high 17 rebounds and made what was arguably the play of the game.
"That was very important," Spellman head coach Mike Perry said. "Those are the little things. You don't have to dunk the ball or throw in a three. Get a key rebound or make a key steal. It was another one of those that won't show up all the time but as a coach, its real big. He's in the right place at the right time but it's not always by accident. He's a smart player."
Spellman jumped out to a 9-2 lead in the opening quarter but Westport closed the gap to trail by just one, 9-8, at the end of the first. It was a tight second quarter, with the Wildcats even taking a lead at 18-17, but Roach buried a three to send the Cardinals into halftime up 20-18.
The third quarter is where Spellman was able to really pull away, opening the quarter on a 9-0 run behind four points from Joseph Crane, three from Joseph, and a mid-range jumper form Nick George.
"At half we were only up two so we knew we had to come out in the third quarter and be really aggressive and play good defense and hit our shots," Roach said.
The Wildcats managed just five points in the quarter after a mix of missed chances and strong defense from the Cardinals.
"Anytime you hold a team to 34 points, that's good half court defense," Perry said. "They beat some good, good teams. We're happy with the way things worked out. I'm happy especially defensively. If things are going for you offensively, you still have the other side of the court."
Westport finishes their first season in Division 3 as sectional finalists.
"I'm very proud of my guys," Wildcats head coach Scot Boudria said. "I thought both teams played very well today and played very hard. The execution for us wasn't great in the third quarter. Offensively we kind of hit a snare there and we weren't shooting the ball awfully well but we were playing good defense. In the fourth quarter we made it a little tight for them. We cut the lead to five with about two minutes to go."
Roach finished with a game-high 15 points, Joseph added 12 points and Crane finished with 10. Westport's Chad Willard paced the Wildcats with 10 points and Hartnett added nine points.
"It's nice to win, it's nice to keep playing," Perry said.
Cardinal Spellman will now play Watertown, the winners of D3 North, on March 11th at the TD Garden at 4 p.m.