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Randolph Boys Top Wahconah in Final Four

By Stephen Dravis
iBerkshires Sports - Print
07:04PM / Wednesday, March 16, 2022


WORCESTER, Mass. -- The Randolph boys basketball team Wednesday started the second quarter with 13-0 run to open a 16-point lead and never looked back in earning an 80-51 win over Wahconah in the Division 4 state semi-finals at Worcester State.
 
Lenny Tangishaka and Joacine Stevens each scored 20 points as the top-seeded Blue Devils moved on to this weekend's state title game.
 
For most of the game, Wahconah was able to match Randolph basket for basket.
 
But Marquis White knocked down two 3-pointers, and Dylan Swinton hit twice from beyond the arc in that 13-0 spurt, which opened up a 33-17 margin.
 
Wahconah (17-7) was able to get within 11 points before half-time, but the margin never got down to single digits the rest of the way.
 
"Our game plan obviously was to keep them out of the paint and take away the easy 2s and make them hit some contested 3s," Wahconah coach Dustin Belcher said. "When they started to do that, it made us spread out a little bit, and it created some more gaps and created opportunities for them to get to the rim.
 
"Credit them. They're a great team. Best team we played all year, and they did a great job executing their game plan as well."
 
Wahconah started the game in a 10-4 hole but battled back to make it a one-possession game by the end of the first quarter after Patrick McLaughlin knocked down a 3-pointer at the buzzer to make it 20-17.
 
McLaughlin finished with 14 points, and Jesse Chapman scored 10.
 
Brody Calvert finished tied for game-high honors with 20 points despite being the focal point of Randolph's defense.
 
Belcher said the junior was well prepared to face pressure, but Randolph brought a different level of team defense than Wahconah has seen this winter.
 
"I think we're battle-tested," Belcher said. "I think we did a good job of that. We played a tough schedule: Bay State twice, Taconic, those kind of teams. He's faced some pressure like that.
 
"We haven't seen a team that could also pressure other guys as much as they could. I think that made it a little more difficult on Calvert at times that the other guys didn't have the space they normally had. But, overall, I thought Calvert did a good job competing ... and all of our guys."
 
After being outscored, 26-13, in the second quarter, Wahconah was nearly even with the Blue Devils in the third.
 
It was 62-46 after Calvert scored on transition off a Ben Noyes defensive rebound, but Tangishaka ended the quarter with Randolph's first 3-pointer of the half and last 3-pointer of the game to make it a 19-point margin going to the fourth.
 
In the last eight minutes, the wheels really came off for Wahconah, which found itself down by with four minutes to play before both teams emptied their benches.
 
Although Wahconah ended up on the short end of the scoreboard on Wednesday night, Belcher was quick to point to the success that got them to the state's Final Four.
 
"At the end of the day, it's a learning experience for our young guys, but our seniors did something that hasn't happened at our school in 29 years, getting to this game," he said. "For those guys, they're part of an elite group of basketball players. Wahconah's had some good basketball teams over the years, and this team is going to be remembered as one of those good teams.
 
"Three seniors on our roster, so we're a relatively young team on paper. I think [the experience] is huge. I think we can build off of that. It hurts like that, an I told them it should hurt. They put a lot of time and effort into it. ... But, at the same time, take some time to think about the journey and how far we've come.
 
"And I'm super proud of them all."
 

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