Clean sweep for Central boys at DCU

All done here at the DCU Center. Central Mass made it a clean sweep tonight, with all three of its participants winning their respective divisions in the Central/West boys basketball state semifinals. Here's how it went down:

D1 Boys: St. John's (Shrewsbury) 56, Northampton 43

Northampton cut it to within four in the second half, but the Pioneers finished strong in the third quarter -- keyed by some big shots by Matt Harrington -- and were able to keep that momentum going in the fourth, and the rest of the way. Harrington led the way for the Pioneers with 18 points, including four 3-pointers. Meanwhile, Richard Rodgers contributed 12 points and Matt Palecki added 10. Northampton was led in scoring by Jarrod Neumann, with 13 points, while sharp-shooting senior Jake Laga also added eight points.

St. John's moves on to Saturday, where it will face St. John's Prep for the Division 1 state title. This marks the Pioneers' fourth straight appearance in the Division 1 state championship game, having won it in 2009 over Lynn English and lost to Central Catholic in both 2008 and last year.

At halftime, St. John's Rodgers has six points and six rebounds, but more importantly has limited Northampton's Jarrod Neumann to four points and three rebounds. Northampton's offense has had success getting into the lane, but has failed converting layups at the basket. With Neumann having little success in the until the last few minutes of the half, it will be interesting to see if 'Hamp can get back in the game.

Second in scoring for the half was St. John's Matt Palecki with six points to go along with four rebounds.

Pretty even score sheet so far for the Pioneers, but Richard Rodgers definitely swung momentum midway through the first with a thunderous block, charging across the lane and promptly slamming the ball into press row.

We've got an interesting battle of student sections, between the robust and creative red-clad Pioneer faithful and Northampton's camo-clad supporters. Yes, that's right, the Hamp students are here in full force, head to toe in military gear. Coulda sworn that army surplus store on Route 9 closed down a few years ago, no?

D2 Boys: Northbridge 57, Sabis 41

Out and out dominance on the boards by Northbridge, as they've seemingly gotten every defensive rebound in the fourth quarter. Corey Pryor led all scorers with 24 points for N'Bridge in the win, while Thomas Murphy had nine rebounds.

Northbridge will face New Mission for the D2 state title on Saturday at 4 p.m.

Once again, Northbridge controlled the glass, holding a 13-2 advantage on the boards in the third quarter. The Rams have started off the third quarter strong, extending their lead to 32-20 with an 11-1 run. Corey Pryor made it a 12-point lead when he took a handoff from Thomas Murphy on the right wing and sank an 18-footer, then he grabbed a loose board, ran the length of the floor and landed a soft finger roll as he avoided a charge. He then capped the run with a three-pointer two steps back from where he hit the long two just a few possessions earlier, for a 35-20 lead.

After struggling on the boards in the first quarter, Sabis is picking up steam with Davonte Johnson and John Williams extending possessions with big offensive boards. The Bulldogs are attacking the rim with abandon -- now if only they could hit their free throws. Corey Pryor leads Northbridge at the half with 11 points, while Thomas Murphy has seven points. Xavier Garcia leads all scorers at the break with 12 points for Sabis, while the Rams hold a 17-12 advantage over Sabis on the glass.

The Rams controlled the boards in the first quarter, with an 11-5 advantage in rebounds. Corey Pryor has seven points so far to lead Northbridge, while Xavier Garcia leads Sabis with six.

D3 Boys: Whitinsville Christian 57, Lenox 41

All done here, what a clinic by WC's tandem of 6-foot-9 senior center Hans Miersma (18 points, 13 rebounds, five blocks) and sophomore point guard Colin Richey (16 points). Whitinsville moves on to Saturday's Division 3 state final against Watertown, slated to start at 12:30 p.m.

Kevin Carpenter led Lenox with 12 points in the loss.

Once again, Lenox has started the fourth quarter hot, sparking an 11-2 run to cut WC's lead to 44-38. But Hans Miersma just answered with a thunderous two-handed slam. Three straight layups from Taylor Bajema have extended the Crusaders lead to 57-39 with 1:44 to go in the ball game, capping an 11-1 run -- that should about do it.

Lenox started off the third quarter on a 10-1 run to cut the Crusaders' lead to 32-23, but the Crusaders have answered behind transition baskets from sophomore point guard Colin Richey. Through three quarters, Miersma has 15 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks, while Richey has 13 points.

The Millionaires quite simply do not have an answer in the post for Whitinsville's 6-foot-9 senior center, Hans Miersma, and it's showing up on the stat sheet in dividends. So far, the big guy has 10 points, nine rebounds and four very loud blocks. Meanwhile, sophomore point guard Colin Richey leads all scorers with 11 points, while Chris Bravo leads Lenox with four points.

Lenox's Chris Bravo had four points for the Millionaires in the first quarter but Whitinsville Christian's Colin Richey ended the first quarter hot by scoring eight points in the last two minutes. Six-foot-9 big man Hans Miersma is already cleaning up on the boards, with four rebounds and three blocks in the first quarter.