BEVERLY — No matter how well the St. John’s Prep basketball team shot the ball in the first half or how good it felt to push the lead to nine points late in the third quarter, coach John Dullea knew it wouldn’t matter in the end.
When St. John’s Prep and Central Catholic meet on the basketball court, it always seems to come down to the wire.
The two teams added more intensity to their recent postseason rivalry last night at Beverly’s Henry Cabot Lodge Fieldhouse as Central came back to win 81-74 in overtime.
“As always you can pretty much take the first 31/2 quarters and throw them out the window,” Dullea said. “It’s always going to come down to the last four minutes of the game. They made plays and we didn’t. They executed and got stops when they needed and we didn’t help ourselves on the boards. We didn’t make the plays at the end.”
Central Catholic moves on to play Andover in the Division 1 North final Saturday at Lowell’s Tsongas Center. St. John’s finished its season at 17-5.
The Eagles went up by nine points when Spencer Danforth finished a fastbreak with 36 seconds left in the third quarter.
Central (20-5) answered with a 9-0 to tie it with 5:07 to go.
“We just stuck around and kept saying, make one stop at a time and crawl back in it,” Central Catholic coach Ricky Nault said. “That’s what we did.”
The lead went back and forth in the final couple minutes of regulation and the Prep’s Mike Bisson made one free throw with 45 seconds left to eventually force overtime. Kareem Davis had a good look off the dribble just before time expired, but it didn’t fall.
The Prep led 71-69 in overtime after Ben Judson made two free throws and Max Burt finished a drive.