White Leads Winch to Title; Tilton, Holderness Win

Winchendon claimed its first Class A title in seven years behind Dominique White's MVP effort against Brewster while Tilton and Holderness won championships for the first time ever in Class B and Class C.

When Mike Byrnes claimed the NEPSAC Class A title in his first season at Winchendon in 1997, he thought it was going to be easy to win another crown. Little did he realize he'd have to wait seven more years for another one.

Unsigned senior point guard Dominique White scored 27 points and dished off 12 assists to lead Winchendon to a 102-85 victory over Brewster Academy (N.H.) on Sunday.

``My second year coming back isn't in vain now," said White, who somehow doesn't have a single offer on the table. "This is what I came back for to win a championship."

Stuard Baldonado added 21 points and 7 rebounds while Jesus Verdejo finished with 20 points in the win. Both players are unsigned, also. Cedric Middleton led Brewster with 32.

Brynes and assistant Alex Magay watched as a 20-point lead was cut all the way down to a single point in the second half. However, The Winch took advantage from the foul line down the stretch and pulled away late in the game. One of the primary reasons why Brewster struggled was because its leader, Washington-bound swingman Joel Smith, got into early foul trouble.

``We won it back in 1997 when we had John Linehan," Byrnes said. "Linehan and Dominique White are very similar. The knock on both is that they couldn't shoot, but they are both unbelievable, underrated leaders."

Winchendon started the NEPSAC playoffs with the top seed, but struggled early and even went into halftime trailing against eight-seeded Exeter. However, they rallied to blow out Exeter in the second half and knocked off a tough St. Thomas More (Conn.) squad in the semifinals, 79-71.

``We came out really flat against Exeter, but that's been how we've played all year against teams that haven't been high caliber," White added. "We were sluggish, but we found a way to win."

What's even more impressive about Winchendon's championship is that it basically came without its projected top player, Providence signee Robert McIver, who injured his ankle in November and missed nearly the entire season before returning to play limited minutes late in the season. McIver did not play in the title game.

``The special entity with this team is that winning was so important to them and they played very unselfish," Byrnes said. "Jason (Smith) does a great job at Brewster and we knew they'd make a run."

Tilton (N.H.) came away with a victory in the Class B title game as standout junior big man Alfred Aboya led Scott Willard's group to a 90-85 victory against Berkshire.

Aboya finished with 31 points and 17 boards and Pat Escabi added 21 points and 6 assists for Tilton, which claimed its first-ever title.

``This exceeded all of expectations," said Willard, in his first season at the helm at Tilton. "No question about it. But once we were able to compete against Brewster, we knew that we shouldn't lose another game the rest of the season. "

And they didn't. Tilton ran off 17 straight victories, culminating with a comeback win against Berkshire.

``Alfred was so raw and was a perimeter player when he first got here," Willard said of his Georgetown-bound big man. "He's developed into an outstanding post player who found a way to score despite being double- and triple-teamed all the time."

In Class C, it was junior point guard Greg Johnson who earned MVP honors after scoring 24 points to lead Holderness (N.H.) to a 62-57 victory against Lawrence Academy (Mass.). Ryan Howard added 19 for Holderness.

Like Tilton, Holderness claimed the first championship in school history.

``The kids played so well at the end of the season," Holderness coach Jamie Gallagher said. "Last season we peaked midway through, but this year we played well until the end. Our team was so unselfish and played so well together. They didn't really care who scored."

Championship:

Class A:

#1 Winchendon beat #3 Brewster 101-85

Class B:

#2 Tilton beat #5 Berkshire 90-85

Class C:

#3 Holderness beat #4 Lawrence Academy 62-57

Semifinals:

Class A:

#1 Winchendon beat #4 St. Thomas More 79 – 71

#3 Brewster beat #2 Bridgton 87 – 85

Class B:

#5 Berkshire beat #1 Tabor 73 – 72

#2 Tilton beat #3 Loomis Chaffee 72 – 54

Class C:

#4 Lawrence beat #1 St. Andrew's 75 – 64

#3 Holderness beat #2 St. Mark's 63 – 55

Quarterfinals:

Class A: #1 Winchendon vs. #8 Exeter 89 – 67

Class A: #2 Bridgton vs. #7 Worcester 95 – 44

Class A: #3 Brewster vs. #6 South Kent 90 – 81

Class A: #4 St. Thomas More vs. #5 NMH 87 – 75

Class B: #1 Tabor vs. #8 Deerfield 74 – 53

Class B: #2 Tilton vs. #7 Williston 78 – 72

Class B: #3 Loomis Chaffee vs. #6 Wilbraham Monson 65-50

Class B: #4 Trinity Pawling vs. #5 Berkshire 68 – 79

Class C: #1 St. Andrew's vs. #8 Hyde-CT 83 – 62

Class C: #2 St. Mark's vs. #7 Nobles 42 – 40

Class C: #3 Holderness vs. #6 Masters-CT 69 – 57

Class C: #4 Lawrence vs. #5 Brunswick 80 - 67


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