By Cary Shuman
The St. Mary’s High School boys basketball team defeated Cathedral, 65-64, in dramatic fashion in the Eastern Mass. final Monday at the TD Garden.
Matthew Cross, a 6-foot-6-inch eighth grader, scored the winning basket with two seconds left after receiving an inbounds pass from senior Joseph Fama. St. Mary’s coach David Brown set up the winning play in the huddle following a timeout with 4.5 seconds left.
Brown elaborated on the game-winning play during an interview with reporters in the Will McDonough Press Room.
“We knew that they [Cathedral] would come out man-to-man in that situation,” said Brown. “I told the guys if we run it correctly, they’re going to jump to Calvin [Johnson] or Johnny [Mercado]. I said, ‘Joe, fake to both of them and they’re going to jump those passes and Cross should be open for the seal and it was wide open. The pass was made, which was great, and the basket was great as well.”
Cross had 15 points, but his final basket will become legendary if St. Mary’s goes on and defeats Maynard Saturday for the state championship.
“That kid has made me a better coach, definitely this year,” said Brown. “He’s so talented, he plays hard and he controls the game. He wants to win. He’s a tough competitor. The bottom line is at the end of the game he’s trying to win a basketball game.”
Cross was asked what it ewas like to play at the Garden and score the winning bucket.
“It feels great because I know a lot of eighth graders don’t get to play at the Garden, so it was good to do it here,” said Cross. “
Calvin Johnson (18 points) and Johnny Mercado (17 points) were outstanding for the Spartans, who had to contend with Cathedral’s excellent sophomore, Moises Flowers (26 points). Jonathan Mola had 11 points for the Spartans. Defensive whiz Michael Cerulli swished a three-pointer and added a key free throw late in the fourth quarter.
St. Mary’s will play Maynard Saturday at 2:15 p.m. at Springfield College.