Monday, March 13, 2017

Arlington Catholic GHOOPS Runs Away from Foxboro Late

By Matt Feld (@mattyfeld612)

The third quarter may have been one to forget, but the final eight minutes for Arlington Catholic will go down in history.

Behind 11 points and 14 rebounds from Lena Perez, including the game-tying bucket in the fourth quarter, the Cougars overcame a scoreless third quarter to take down Foxboro, 37-30, in the Division 2 Girls Eastern Mass finals on Monday night at the TD Garden.

Foxboro (22-3) led 26-19 entering the final stanza, but the Cougars (18-7) clawed their way back and closed the game on an 18-4 run.

Erin Donlan hit three at the charity stripe to pull Arlington Catholic within four, and after a bucket by Donlan got the Cougars within two, Monica Royo evened the game at 26 with a driving layup.

Foxboro reclaimed a 30-28 lead with two minutes to go thanks to a three pointer from Grace Tamulionis and a free throw by Lauren Flahive.

Perez and Ball, however, came away with consecutive baskets to put Arlington Catholic back in front, 32-30.

From there, Donlan (14 points) took control of the game for the Cougars, sinking five free throws and coming away with a steal to seal the victory for Arlington Catholic.

Arlington Catholic coach Dave Brady said his team has become accustomed to coming from behind.

“In our first four games of the year, we started 3-1, and we were down with under a minute to play in all four of them,” said Brady. “After the third quarter we reminded the girls of those times they persevered and that allowed them to keep their composure.”

Arlington Catholic trailed 6-3 early, but behind the play of Perez, the Cougars went on a 16-4 run capped off by a Perez put back to take a 19-10 advantage.

The Warriors, however, closed out the half by going on a run of their own. A Sampson trey marked her 1,000th career point, and Riley Collins and Grace Tamulionis each came away with baskets to pull Foxboro within two, 19-17, at the break.

Foxboro coach Lisa Downs said Sampson could not have been less focused on scoring her 1,000th point.

“We are obviously all very happy for (Sampson),” said Downs. “But, the truth is, if you asked her, she would much rather have won.”

The third quarter was all Foxboro, as the Warriors outscored Arlington Catholic 9-0 in the frame.

Lilly Sykes buried a trey from the corner to give the Warriors a 20-19 lead.

Moments later, after Sykes added a free throw and Sampson hit two more from the charity stripe, Collins splashed home one from behind the arc to give Foxboro a 26-19 advantage after three.

“In the first half we rebounded really well,” said Brady. “We were able to focus on Sampson and provide some help. The focus was really all on her. In the third quarter, though, (Foxboro) just ripped the ball away from us. They played tough, and just threw us to the side. All credit to them.”

Arlington Catholic returns to the state championship game for the first time in four years. The Cougars last participated in the state title game back in 2014 when they knocked off Longmeadow.

Perez – who was a freshman when the Cougars last won – said her career has finally come full circle.

“I was a freshman when we last won which was just a cool experience to watch unfold,” said Perez. “Now as a senior, being a starter, it is just unbelievable. Impossible to put into words, really.”

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