The Pope John XXIII High School boys basketball team saw its hopes for a state championship ended by St. Mary’s High School, 62-39, in the Division 4 North sectional final Friday night at Emmanuel College in Boston.
Pope John, led by head coach Dave Sacco, had advanced to the Final Four in the division by defeating Lynnfield, 57-54, in the sectional semifinals. The Tigers had bested Matignon, 67-56, in the quarterfinals.
The St. Mary’s defense was able to accomplish what very few opponents were able to do this season: contain Pope John’s 1,000-point scorer Malcolm Brown. The 6-foot senior guard was closely guarded throughout the game and held to 13 points.
St. Mary’s coach Kevin Moran said his team worked hard to defend against Brown, who can hurt teams with his outside shooting and slicing drives to the basket.
“The whole focus of our game was to defend well against Pope John’s potent offense,” said Moran. “When you have a streaky scorer like him [Brown] and he gets going, you’re in trouble. So we tried to contain him a little bit.”
Sacco acknowledged that the St. Mary’s defense gave his usually prolific offense problems throughout the contest.
“They took us out of everything we were trying do offensive and defensively,” said Sacco. “It seemed at times they had six or seven guys on defense. We couldn’t really get going at all and that’s a credit to them – they’re a great team.”
Pope John junior guard Kaysean Woods played a solid all-around game and contributed 10 points. Cam Selfridge, a senior guard, displayed his long-range shooting capabilities by swishing a pair of 3-point field goals. James McCormack, an unsung performer in the Tigers’ excellent 19-4 season, had five points.
Peter Pires (3 points) and Mike Igo (2 points) also contributed to the Pope John offense.
Pope John had an outstanding winter on the hardcourt with its boys and girls basketball teams both winning 19 games and making strong runs in the State Tournament.
The 6-foot-5-inch Sacco, the school’s all-time leading basketball scorer, credited his team for compiling one of the best seasons in the program’s history.
“I’m so proud of this team,” said Sacco. “They had one of the greatest seasons in Pope John boys basketball history; finishing the year 19-4 is quite an achievement.”
The St. Mary’s boys basketball team went on to defeat Cathedral, 70-64, in the state championship game Monday at the TD Garden.