Peabody would go on to top Boston English, 58-44. The season-long goal was made complete only a few short days later as the Tanners took down their third undefeated team of the tournament, St. Peter-Marian by just three points, 47-44.
“This story is the greatest win in Peabody basketball history,” Foley told The News after the championship game. “We beat four giant killers. It was an amazing feat, but this was our year.”
Masco had a similar road to the finals, with a couple of speed bumps along the way. The Chieftains went 11 straight game without a loss, while beating their opponents by 19 points or more— but Milton’s Fontbonne handed them their first of the season.
Masco took just four free throw attempts, while Fontbonne took as many as 31. Luckily for Masco though, it was the worst shooting game of the season and it wouldn’t be repeated.
“As a the year went on we continued to grow,” said Cleary. “Even the losses were against some strong Div. 1 teams. We learned from them and the excitement of the season continued.”
The Chieftains won another eight games in the regular season, before falling to Methuen, 64-52 in the final game. The Rangers did everything they could to shut down Stepherson offensively.
Despite the two blemishes to their record, the Cheiftains went on to the earn the No. 2 seed in the tourney. They breezed by Reading (62-42), Lincoln-Sudbury(59-40) and Concord-Carlisle (67-43), while Davis helped them beat Burlington by two points.
It was off to Boston, for a rematch against Fontbonne in the Eastern Mass. finals at the then brand new Fleet Center. The Chieftains were seasoned vets when it came to playing at the Garden, but they were in awe of the shiny parquet floor in the new building.
“I remember during pregame they couldn’t stop talking about how nice the Fleet Center was and how new the locker rooms were,” Cleary joked. “They were excited to be back in the Eastern Mass. finals and I was focused on keeping them in tuned to the game and not the locker rooms.”