A Championship Season: St. Mary’s Wins North Sectional Title Defeating Pope John

March 16, 2012
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The St. Mary’s High School boys basketball team continued its magical season with a 62-39 win over Pope John High School, capturing the Division 4 North title Friday night at Emmanuel College.

St. Mary’s was set to play Cathedral High School for the state championship Monday afternoon at the TD Garden.

Head coach Kevin Moran couldn’t have asked for a more complete effort than he received from his surging team that is playing its best basketball of the season when it matters most.

Senior Nick Gagliolo was a force for the Spartans, pouring in 20 points and playing the game very well at both ends of the court. Sharpshooting guard Devin Thompson lit up the board from the outside and finished with 18 points.

Randolf Thurman, the smooth and efficient floor general for the Spartans’ offense that has dominated Winthrop, Manchester-Essex, and Pope John, added seven points and five assists.

“We had our scoring leaders and Randolf is our guy as far as handling the ball,” said coach Kevin Moran. “I think he’s the best point guard around.”

Brendan Moran, the Spartans’ 6-foot-4-inch center, helped give his team the edge on the backboards and played aggressive defense in his usual unsung starting role. Junior forward Matt Manning had four points and was part of a team-wide defensive effort that held Pope John’s leading scorer, Malcolm Brown of Lynn, to four points.

Kevin Moran and his staff had their team ready for the championship game, devising a defensive scheme that contained and frustrated the Brown and an offensive plan that produced fast break and set-play points. Moran has his team peaking at the right team and rather and riding a wave of momentum and championship-level confidence after its big win over defending state champion Winthrop in the tournament opener.

Following Friday night’s victory, Moran spoke about his team’s trip to the Garden.

“Going to the Garden, for me it’s unbelievable excitement, but I think for the kids it’s an experience they’ll never forget,” said Moran. “I’m so happy for those guys to be able play at the Garden. The hard work, the energy that they put in all year, now they deserve to play on the big stage and I’m as excited as they are.”

Brendan Moran shines in the big game

Brendan Moran wasn’t going to hold anything back in the biggest game of his high school basketball career, even making a nifty behind-the-back pass in St. Mary’s 62-39 win over Pope John that sent the Spartans on to the TD Garden.

Brendan is the son of St. Mary’s head basketball coach Kevin Moran, a former college basketball star and Hall of Famer at Curry who scored more than 2,400 points.

Brendan, who is 6 feet, 4 inches tall and starts at center for the Spartans, understood the significance of the Division 4 North final, knowing a win would send the team on to the state championship game at TD Garden.

“This [win] is huge, it’s unbelievable,” Moran said after helping his team roll to its third win of the State Tournament. “At the beginning of this season, I knew we had a real good group of kids. We had a good team last year and we’ve had kids come up from the JV team like Tommy Deveau and help a lot.”

Brendan said he and his father do talk about basketball beyond preparing for and playing the games.

“Yes, we talk about the games and then we refocus on our next opponent,” said Brendan.

Is he aware how great a basketball player his father was in college?

“I’ve heard many stories, but not by father, though – he’s pretty humble about it,” said Brendan. “

Brendan, who’s part of a Peabody delegation that’s been together since their days in the Peabody Basketball Association (PBA), was looking forward to playing at the Garden along with the other members of an outstanding senior class that includes starters Devin Thompson and Nick Gagliolo and reserves Jonathan Capano, Mike Sonia, J.J. Cavanagh, and Ryan McVann.

“Oh, my God, it’s unreal – I honestly can’t wait,” he said.

Spartan boys win state title in TD Garden final, 70-64

The St. Mary’s High School boys basketball team put the finishing touches on its outstanding season by defeating Cathedral High School, 70-64, in the Division 4 state championship game Monday afternoon at the TD Garden.

Senior guard Devin Thompson scored 25 points to power the Spartans to the school’s first boys’ basketball title since 2002.

The quintet of Nick Gagliolo, Devin Thompson, Matt Manning, Brendan Moran, and Randolf Thurman helped St. Mary’s set the tone with an excellently played first quarter.  The Spartans played well at both ends of the court in the second quarter to take a 32-23 lead in to the half.

From there, the Spartans kept their composure while Thompson continued his superb offensive performance. Tommy Deveau keyed a solid effort from the St. Mary’s reserves.

St. Mary’s, led by head coach Kevin Moran, completed its state championship season with a 20-4 record. The Spartans bested Winthrop, Manchester-Essex, Pope John and Cathedral in the State Tournament.

“I congratulate coach Kevin Moran and the players on a truly brilliant seaso n,” said Athletic Director Jeffrey Newhall. “The players and coaches worked hard to reach their goal of a state championship and they represented our school and our community very well with their exceptional athletic performance and sportsmanship. Everyone at St. Mary’s is very proud of this team’s accomplishment.”

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