St. John's Prep looked like it might be stifled by St. John's of Shrewsbury and its stingy defense in the first half of Massachusetts' Division 1 championship game Saturday, but the No. 1-ranked team in the state eventually figured it out in the third quarter on the way to a 72-57 victory at the DCU Center in Worcester, Mass.
Led by Massachusetts' Gatorade player of the year Pat Connaughton, a 6-foot-4 small forward who has committed to Notre Dame, Prep scored 30 points in the third quarter to make it 58-39 heading into the final stanza.
The fact that Prep (25-1) had 58 points with a quarter left was made more impressive considering that St. John's of Shrewsbury had held its opponents to just 43, 38, 47 and 41 points in its previous four playoff games.
Connaughton scored 22 points in the game -- 12 in the first half to help St. John's Prep to a 28-21 halftime lead -- after averaging 22 points, 16.9 rebounds and 7.9 assists per game leading up to Saturday's championship.
St. John's Prep, which hadn't appeared in the state championship since 1974, was led in scoring by junior Steve Haladyna with 29 points.
For St. John's of Shrewbury (21-4), which was competing in its fourth straight state final, senior Richard Rodgers scored 26 points. The 6-foot-5 Rodgers is a football signee of Cal-Berkeley.
Notes: According to the Worcester Telegram's Twitter account, The DCU Center announced the official attendance for all the games played on Saturday was 9,460.