The New Mission boys’ basketball team turned a near-collapse into triumph by outlasting Whitman-Hanson, 79-70, in overtime in Thursday’s Division 2 South semifinal at Taunton High.
New Mission will face TechBoston in Saturday’s D2 South final at 3:15 p.m. in Taunton.
The fifth-seeded Titans (21-4) led by 10 throughout most of the fourth quarter and held a 66-59 advantage with less than two minutes remaining, but a string of turnovers and unfortunate whistles allowed the eighth-seeded Panthers (18-7) to creep back into the game.
On the final possession of regulation, Whitman-Hanson sophomore Cole Levangie (18 points, 3 assists) corralled a missed 3-pointer and scored at the buzzer to send the game to overtime tied, 68-68.
But the young Titans responded, as sophomore guard Jaheed Allen-Paisley scored 7 of his 8 points in the extra frame, and New Mission’s defense finally contained Whitman-Hanson junior Stevie Kelly (17 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists).
“I thought our man-to-man pressure would wear [Whitman-Hanson] down,” said New Mission coach Malcolm Smith. “But we had to rebound. If we don’t rebound, we don’t win. I told them that one possession against [Whitman-Hanson] is going to kill you, and it killed us.”
In the first half, New Mission junior Abubakar Aden scored 11 points, including three deep 3-pointers, to spark a 13-1 run that expanded the Titans’ lead to 27-20 midway through the second quarter. Whitman-Hanson responded with a 12-2 run to briefly regain the lead, but Xavier Baker hit a triple to give New Mission a 35-34 halftime lead.
Whitman-Hanson took a 44-38 lead on consecutive triples from Max Borgen (11 points), but New Mission responded with a 10-2 run to take a 48-46 lead into the fourth quarter.
In the fourth, Aden (20 points, 6-for-9 from 3-point range) drilled two more triples and Tyreese Marshall (10 points, 5 rebounds) exerted his will down low to help New Mission open a 66-56 lead with under four minutes remaining.
Using waves of substitutions to ratchet up the defensive pressure, the Panthers held the Titans without a field goal from that point on, but the Titans found their nerve in the extra period.
“It was a natural reaction. They were hurt,” Smith said of his teams’ attitude after the game-tying basket. “It was a letdown, but the bottom line is, we were good.”
Division 2 South
TechBoston 83, Scituate 57 — Defeating defending Division 2 state champion TechBoston is a tall task. Beating the Bears at their own game? That is nearly impossible.
Scituate learned that hard lesson in a semifinal at Taunton High, as the Sailors challenged TechBoston to a fast-paced game and watched the Bears excel en route to convincing victory.
TechBoston (21-2) will face Boston City League rival New Mission (21-4) for the fourth time this season in Saturday’s D2 South final at 3:15 p.m. in Taunton.
“We have a target right on our backs, everyone is gunning for us,” said TechBoston coach Johnny Williams. “Hingham was gunning for us [in the sectional quarterfinals], Scituate was gunning for us, and New Mission, they’re gunning for us.
“But we’re also gunning too.”
At first, third-seeded Scituate (18-5) matched TechBoston’s blistering pace. But Shamar Browder (25 points) and second-seeded TechBoston hit the afterburners with a 13-1 run to open a 29-17 advantage midway through the second.
The Bears led, 41-31, at halftime and the Sailors kept the deficit around 10 points by mixing their defenses and getting tough baskets from junior Jack Poirier (team-high 17 points).
But with Browder, senior Lyron Bennett (23 points, 10 rebounds), and sophomore Alan Nunez (13 points, 4 points) leading the charge, the Bears erupted for 22 points over the first five minutes of the fourth quarter and turned up the defensive pressure to contain Poirier and Scituate point guard Aidan Sullivan (11 points, 3 steals).
“They wanted to play fast, and we wanted to play fast, so we were right at home in that style,” said Williams.
Since falling, 72-69, at New Mission on Jan. 16, TechBoston has won 15 straight, including two wins over the Titans.
The Bears will look for a third straight over their rivals to reach the state semifinals at TD Garden, an opportunity they missed last year when snow postponed their state semifinal.
“When we were snowed out last year we were mad,” Browder said. “We were crying about it, so to get a shot to go now, we have to give it our all and get the [win].”Nate Weitzer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.