BEVERLY, MASS. — The Cinderella run of the St. Andrew’s School Varsity I boys’ basketball team in the NEPSAC Class AA playoffs came to a crushing halt Sunday afternoon, March 3, when the Saints suffered a buzzer-beating loss to Cushing Academy, 61-60, in the championship game played at Endicott College.
Penguins’ sophomore standout guard Jalen Adams connected on a running, 30-foot, banked-in 3-pointer as time expired to give second-seeded Cushing the title. The trey by Adams, on the radar of many Division I college programs including Providence, was the only made by the Penguins in the contest.
“I’m devastated for the kids. They played their hearts out today,” said St. Andrew’s head coach Mike Hart. “We just didn’t do enough down the stretch to win the game. We played not to lose instead of playing to win.”
The Saints, seeded eighth in the event and already upset winners over top-seeded Worcester Academy and fifth-seeded Tilton Academy, led by 11 points (55-44) with three minutes to go in the game.
St. Andrew’s, however, couldn’t deal with Cushing’s pressure down the stretch. The Saints also didn’t help themselves at the foul line late, failing to convert on a one-and-one in the final seconds just prior to Adams’ game-winning heave.
“We didn’t handle their press well, we threw the ball away and missed too many free throws,” Coach Hart said. “My hat’s off to Cushing. They made the plays down the stretch.
“This game reminded me a lot of our run in 2006 when we won and were the eighth seed and beat Proctor (Academy) at the buzzer. That year Michael Culpo (later of Long Island University-Brooklyn) hit the shot. Today we were on the losing end.”
Junior forward Bonzie Colson led the locals with 14 points and 16 rebounds. Portsmouth’s Henry Bolton added 11. Cushing’s Portsmouth product, Butler-bound senior forward Andrew Chrabascz, finished with 13 points while battling foul trouble most of the day.
“Bonzie was awesome as he has been for us for most of the year. He had a great night,” said Coach Hart.
St. Andrew’s finished it season with a 24-9 overall record. Cushing wound up with a 23-6 mark.
“Outstanding, we had an outstanding season,” Coach Hart added. “We have eight guys back next year. I’m very, very happy with where St. Andrew’s basketball is at this point. We have great kids who have accepted their roles, which is very hard to find right now in high school basketball.
“They play for the name on the front of the jersey, not the back. They play for St. Andrews, not themselves. I’m very proud of my guys. I’m very happy for the season we had and I’m excited for the future.