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North can end season with title; Polar Bears beat Naps in overtime.

Byline: Rich Garven

WORCESTER -- The home team is taking quite a liking to the T&G Hometeam City Tournament this year.

North High has hosted this annual gathering of eight boys' basketball teams from across Worcester since the tournament's inception in 2012, but has never advanced out of the opening round with losses by 28, 31 and 19 points.

The Polar Bears ended the one-and-done streak by handily defeating Doherty on Saturday and maintained momentum by catching and then overtaking highly regarded Holy Name for an 80-78 overtime victory in the semifinals on Monday in its home gymnasium.

North (7-12) has a chance to match its longest winning streak of the season -- that would be three games -- when it meets another surprising survivalist in Main South (17-2) here at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the championship. It'll be the final game of the season for the Polar Bears, who didn't qualify for the Central Mass. Division 1 Tournament.

"Unfortunately we didn't make the districts -- we put ourselves in a hole -- but I told the guys we had something to play for, that this is our district,'' coach Al Pettway said. "There is only one team that can win (Division 1) and there is only one team that can win the City Tournament and this is the tournament we want right now.''

The Naps (14-6) are off until the Central Mass. Tournament after losing for just the second time in the past 10 games despite trailing for just 23 seconds in the 32 minutes that comprise regulation.

"Everyone worked hard and it was one of those games where nobody deserved to lose, things just didn't go our way at the end,'' said coach Jason Chavoor, whose Naps were unable to protect a four-point lead with 1:07 to play.

"Obviously, at the end of regulation the kid made a tough 3 to send it to overtime. We just turned the ball over a few too many times today and gave North too many chances and they capitalized.''

"The kid'' would be North senior guard Tim Lessard, who was inserted into the game for the first time with 3.4 seconds to play after his third teammate had fouled out and promptly drained a 3-pointer from the right wing as time expired to knot the score at 71-all.

"It was just a matter of having confidence,'' Lessard said. "I sat on the bench the whole time cheering on my teammates and once I got in I knew I was ready to shoot. I just let it fly.''

Those were Lessard's only points of the night and pushed his season totals to 28 points and three 3-pointers. It's a shot he'll never forget, especially after not having played high school basketball since quitting the junior varsity team during the season as a freshman before deciding to give it a final go this year.

"This year I came back because I wanted to prove I could be on the team again,'' Lessard said. "I'm definitely happy I came back.''

The Polar Bears made good on their OT opportunity, which featured four ties and four lead changes, with junior Edimael Rodriquez leading the way with five of his team-high 22 points in the four-minute session. Senior Sokari Amache (16) and junior David Jones (14) were also in double figures for the winners.

Junior guard Jerry Magorombo was immense for Holy Name, netting a season-high 36 points and collecting 11 rebounds. Senior guard Jaimorri Sanders had 20 points before fouling out, one of three Naps to do so.

Contact Rich Garven at
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Title Annotation:Sports
Author:Garven, Rich
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Feb 17, 2015
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