REGION – It was a busy week for local athletes as hockey and basketball teams continued their foray into the MIAA tournament.
It was quite a fortnight for wrestler Raphael Knapp.
The Algonquin senior had already won the 170-pound Division 1 State Championship and the All-State Championship. On March 4, he put an exclamation point on his career and remarkable 14-day run by earning his first New England Championship.
After a first-round bye, Knapp built an 8-1 lead before pinning Liam Meeker of Minnechaug at 48 seconds of the second period. Knapp was forced to go the distance in his quarterfinal match, but he still rolled to a 12-5 win over Nicholas Baccala of Ponaganset.
In the semifinals, Knapp was matched with a familiar foe, Joe Bolduc of Methuen. The pair were locked in a terrific bout, with Knapp holding a 4-2 edge, when Knapp managed to score the pinfall win at 1:24 of the second round.
The championship match would prove to be an instant classic between two Central Massachusetts stars. Hopedale’s Isael Perez gave Knapp everything he could handle and then some. Knapp built a 5-0 lead after two periods and lead 9-2 midway through the third, before Perez began a frantic comeback. An escape by Perez, followed by a takedown and a near fall on a stunned Knapp and suddenly it was 9-8 with 26 seconds remaining. With the championship within his grasp, Knapp dug deep, managed a one-point escape and survived a one-point penalty for stalling to claim the crown.
No. 31 Grafton High (13-8) saw its season come to an end with a heartbreaking double-overtime loss at home to No. 34 Newburyport in the opening round of the Division 2 Tournament.
Ethan McInerny led the Gators with 22 points. Shabd Murty and Mark Dickson added nine points each.
The season came to an end for No. 26 St. John’s (10-12) with a 90-46 preliminary round loss to Needham on March 2.
Noah Basgaard led the Pioneers with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Harrison Miles added 11.
No. 12 Hudson was upset by Bishop Stang, at home in the opening round of the Division 3 Tournament.
Jackson O’Brien poured in a game-high 27 points to lead the Hawks, including 14 in the fourth quarter. Ryan Moreira added eight.
Gracyn Barnes scored 12 of her game-high 24 points in the fourth quarter, lifting the No. 30 Gators (18-3) past Dighton-Rehoboth in the preliminary round of the Division 2 Tournament on March 1 43-29. Ella Molinari added six points.
Grafton’s season came to an end with a second-round loss to Wakefield 42-26. Barnes, McKenzie Anderson and Leah Quilty had six points each to lead the Gators.
No. 34 AMSA jumped out to a 10-point halftime lead and rolled to a 53-47 win over Diman in the opening round of the Division 4 Tournament on March 1. Riley Whittier poured in a game-high 25 points to lead the Eagles.
However, AMSA’s tournament run ended with a 64-33 loss to No. 2 Norwell (19-2) in the second round.
Riley Whittier had 10 points to lead the Eagles (13-9).
No. 29 Algonquin Regional had its season ended by No. 4 Wachusett, 67-21, in the preliminary round of the Division 1 Tournament.
The Titans (12-9) got six points from Lilly Morse and five from Sophie Hjerpe.
The Rangers fell in the round of 32 of the MIAA Division 2 state championship against Nashoba Regional High School 33-65. The Westborough team roared through their preliminary round with a 60-45 victory over Agawam High School.
No. 7 Hudson (19-2) had no problems against Auburn in the opening round of the Division 3 Tournament. They won 60-31.
Samantha Collette dropped in 16 points and pulled down 12 rebounds to lead the win. Madison Kiley added 14 points.
The Hawks will continue onto the Sweet 16 against Fontbonne on March 7.
The No. 4 Gators will be moving onto the Elite 8 following wins over Rockport and Dedham. The Gators will play against Shawsheen Valley on March 8.
The No. 26 Colonials (10-11) were no match for No. 7 Xavarian (13-8) in this Division 1 preliminary round matchup. Shrewsbury fell 1-9.
A goal by Sean McNamara with 5:23 left in regulation gave No. 11 Plymouth South (13-7-1) the win over No. 22 Westborough (11-10-0) 1-0.
Westborough played a strong game, peppering PS goalie Tristan Holmes with 33 shots but it couldn’t find the back of the net.
Gavin Daly had two goals and two assists to lead the No. 6 Panthers to the easy win over No. 27 Middleborough 5-0 in the preliminary round of the Division 3 Tournament at Navin Rink.
Sean Hamann added a hat trick for Marlborough (13-5-2). Daniel Esteves had 22 saves to post the shutout.
However, Marlborough’s tournament run came to a heartbreaking end with a double-overtime loss 3-2 to No. 11 Nashoba on March 4.
After falling behind 2-0 in the first period, Marlbrough got a second period goal from Oliver Harris and one in the third from Luc Masse to force the overtime. The game-winner was scored by Joe Quinn at 6:08 of the second extra session. Marlborough goalie Daniel Esteves was brilliant in net with 31 saves.
Luke Gerardi and Dominic Reidy had two goals each to lead the No. 9 Pioneers past Winchester 5-3 in the opening round of the Division 1 Tournament.
Zack Jennings had the other goal for St. John’s. Ryan Melanson was solid in net with 29 saves.
The Pioneers kept their state title dreams alive with a 5-1 win over Arlington Catholic on March 5 at New England Sports Center.
Connor McKenna had a pair of goals to lead the Pioneers (11-10-1), who advanced to the round of 16 and were scheduled to face top-seeded St. John’s Prep on March 8.
Zack Jennings, Luke May and Sean Farrell also scored for the Pioneers. Goalie Ryan Melanson was strong with 35 saves.
Saint John’s will face St. John’s Prep on March 8.
Brynna Joyce played the hero, scoring at 1:41 of the second overtime to lift the Titans (17-3-1) over Natick in the opening round of the Division 2 Tournament.
Trailing the Red Hawks 1-0 through two periods, Emily Johns scored for Algonquin to tie the game 3:27 into the third period. Kaitlin Matthews was brilliant in net for the Titans, making 26 saves.
Algonquin went on to beat Dedham 4-3 on March 6 in the Sweet 16. The Titans will face off against Canton March 9.
The Shrewsbury High School girls hockey team’s quest for a state championship got off to a strong start with wins over Old Rochester and Pope Francis in the first two rounds of the Division 1 Tournament.
The Colonials (20-2-2) advanced to the Elite 8, where they were scheduled to take on Hingham High (16-5-2) March 8.