After being pushed to the limit by Burlington, the Beverly High School boys’ basketball team was able to pull out a thrilling, 67-60 overtime win on Tuesday night, March 3, in front of a huge crowd at Tewksbury High School, who came to witness this Division 2 North semifinal clash.
With that victory, the top-seeded Panthers improved to 20-2 overall, and will either play Latin Academy or Belmont in the North final on Saturday, March 7 at the Tsongas Center in Lowell. The Latin Academy semifinal clash against Belmont is scheduled for Wednesday, March 4, at Wakefield.
The fourth-seeded Red Devils, meanwhile, ended the year at 18-5.
"We didn’t handle their full-court pressure, and it is tough to deal with," said Panthers head coach Matt Karakoudas. "We made some small adjustments in the second half, and cut our turnovers down."
On the game’s final possession in regulation, Beverly’s Duncan Moreland missed a shot, but he got his own rebound. However, his second try to win the game also missed at the buzzer, thus sending it into overtime tied at 56.
At the start of overtime, Damian Bouras hit a three-pointer to give the Panthers the lead, and Moreland hit two free throws to extend the advantage to five with 2:20 left.
Burlington cut the deficit to 63-60 with just under 40 seconds left. But Bouras then knocked down two free throws, and then got fouled again when the Red Devils missed a three-point attempt with just 15 seconds left. He buried those free throws to seal the deal.
This game was nip-and-tuck throughout the first half. Beverly led, 15-12 after one quarter, and 25-24 at the half.
Aided by nine third-quarter points by Gabe Copeland, the Panthers were then able to extend the lead to 43-37 after three quarters.
In the fourth, the Panthers increased the lead to 11, 53-42, when Moreland scored on a feed from Jack Crowley with 3:33 remaining in regulation.
However, Burlington then scored the next nine points to cut the deficit again to two with a minute left. Bouras hit a three, but the Red Devils scored the final five points to send it into overtime.
"The kids stuck with it," said Karakoudas. "Burlington is a very good team."
Copeland led the Panthers in scoring with 18 points, while Bouras was right behind him with 17. Moreland chipped in with 12 to go along with a team-high six assists, while Crowley had 10 points. He also led the team in rebounds with 18.
"Bouras was huge," said Karakoudas. "He put that game away for us."
Kyle Ingals, who fouled out in overtime, led the Red Devils on offense with 24 points. Mike Melanson tacked on 15.