Monty Tech Prevails in Div. 4 Championship
WORCESTER -- Monty Tech’s biggest stars shined bright on Saturday, leading the Bulldogs to a Central Mass. Division 4 championship.
Behind the talented quartet of Erica Regan, Emily St. Thomas, Arianna Saladini and Ashley Girouard, the top-seeded Bulldogs ran past third-seeded Maynard, 56-49, in Saturday’s final at Worcester State University.
“They’re gamers,” Monty Tech head coach Scott Malboeuf said of his talented roster. “And they worked hard in the paint in the second half there and we came out with the win.”
The Bulldogs share more an few similarities to this year’s Boston Celtics squad. Regan, like Al Horford, is their big player and center who plays hard defense and scores points in the paint; St. Thomas, like Kyrie Irving, is their star point guard who can handle the ball and shoot with ease; Saladini, like Jayson Tatum, is a young superstar with a great outside shot; and Girouard is the team’s grinder, just like Marcus Morris.
Those superstar talents were on full display during Saturday’s championship showdown.
Right from the start, Regan won the opening tip, but the two teams took some time feeling each other out before either offense kicked into gear. After Maynard got the board first, the Bulldogs embarked on an 12-0 run for an 12-2 lead and early control of the game. Despite the Bulldogs’ suffocating defensive effort, the Tigers worked their way back into the contest, pulling within 12-7 before two free throws from Saladini and another by Regan made it a 15-7 game at the end of the first quarter.
To open the second quarter, St. Thomas got the ball to Saladini, who hit a quick 3-pointer to push the lead to 18-7. Maynard missed its next shot and Girouard got the rebound, sending a pass over to Saladini for another 3-pointer to make it 21-7. Regan got another quick score after another Maynard missed shot and the Bulldogs led 23-7, as it appeared the rout was on.
Instead, it was Maynard that took control of the momentum, embarking on a 7-0 run to cut the score 23-14. St. Thomas briefly halted the surge with a free throw, but Maynard added nine straight points from there.
After a long two-pointer from St. Thomas, the Bulldogs were left clinging to a 26-23 halftime lead.
The teams battled back and forth to open the second half, with Girouard’s basket making it a 30-25 Bulldogs lead. Maynard went on a 5-0 run, using a Hailey Malozzi 3-pointer, a turnover and an easy layup to tie the score 30-30.
Regan answered with an old-fashioned three-point play and St. Thomas made a nifty steal, but Malozzi added another 3-pointer and it was 33-33. Four quick points by St. Thomas put the Bulldogs back in front, and soon after assisted on a Saladini 3-pointer that made the score 40-35 at the end of the third.
Both teams started slowly in the final quarter before Maynard got in the paint and cut the score 40-37. Monty Tech answered with a pair of baskets from Regan to make it 44-37, and a St. Thomas steal led to another quick bucket.
Monty Tech advances to the state semifinals, with the game’s date and location yet to be determined.
“I saw and scouted the (Western Mass.) teams this morning,” Malboeuf said. “We’re going to give them practice off tomorrow, but they’ll be ready for the time when it’s here.”