BILLERICA, Mass. -– Shawsheen Tech senior guard Stephanie Champoux stepped to free throw line with her team trailing by one point and six seconds remaining in the game. She knew at that moment that her season and high school career were on the line.
“It was definitely nerve-racking,” Champoux (12 points) said after the game. “I had my team behind me cheering me on and I just wanted to do anything I could to help them win.”
The senior co-captain calmly made the front end of a one-and-one and after a New Mission timeout she stepped back to the line and sank the second to give No. 3 Shawsheen (17-2) a 56-55 lead.
“I said before the game that this was going to be a tough battle,” Shawsheen head coach Dick Barriss said after the game. “It was going to come down to the end of the game and we were going to have to make a key free throw, a key basket, and get a key rebound and that is what happened.”
Shawsheen’s eventual 57-55 win did nothing to overshadow one of the best performances of the year by New Mission junior point guard Jaszala Laracuente. The talented lead guard scored 32 points, including two huge shots down the stretch that tied the game and gave No. 6 New Mission (14-7) a one-point lead at 55-54 with 11 seconds remaining in the game.
“She was unstoppable,” Barriss said of Laracuente. “She just played phenomenal out there tonight.”
Laracuente, a Division 1 recruit and must-see athlete, also added six rebounds, five assists, and six steals on the night.
In a back and forth battle that saw both teams exchange leads in each quarter it was the clutch shooting of Shawsheen junior guard Arianna Medeiros and the efficient work at the free throw line that helped Shawsheen earn the win.
“Ari Medeiros made some huge threes tonight for us,” Barriss added.
Medeiros scored nine of her team-high 17 points in the fourth quarter and hit five 3-pointers on the night.
New Mission senior guard Shantel Soloman (10 points, seven rebounds) also had a great fourth quarter for the Titans as she was effective on both ends of the floor and had a key offensive rebound and put back in the final minute of the fourth quarter.
Fourth quarter action: In a game that saw numerous lead changes throughout it was the fourth quarter that provided the hottest action. The final minute of play saw four lead changes and big plays from both teams and their star players.
“We are just a very determined team,” said Champoux. “Even though we were down we stayed positive. We just wanted this win and to try to get to the Garden.”
Shawsheen trailed 43-37 entering the final quarter of play, and tied the game in the first minute of the fourth on threes from Medeiros and junior point guard Shanell Nardone (seven points).
Shawsheen junior forward Rachel Fahey (nine points) was also big down the stretch for the Rams.
Humphries’ loss: New Mission junior forward Deandra Humphries went down, early in the fourth quarter, on a play going to the basket where she drew contact but a foul was not called. After being helped off the floor and checked by the Shawsheen trainer, she was ruled out with a concussion as a result of the play and was not able to re-enter the game.
The loss clearly hurt the Titans as Humphries was beginning to assert herself in the third quarter as she scored seven of her 11 points in the third and was beginning to find space to slash to the basket.
Next Up: Shawsheen will take on reigning Division 4 state champion Fenway in the state semi-finals.
No. 7 seed Fenway defeated No. 2 seed Pope John 64-55 on Friday night.