FOXBORO - Winning all seven of its games, the Mass. Premier Courts captured the National AAU Division 2 Boys' Championship during the week-long series.
"This was a great group of young men who competed in each game as a team," said Michael Vaughan, the highly successful Mansfield High boys' basketball coach who directed the No. 4 seeded MPC Team. "I was very proud to be a part of such a great group of people who play the game the right way."
Among the eight players on the MPC roster were Mansfield High's Ryan Boulter and Michael Boen, Frank Oftring of Bishop Feehan and Eric Ryan of King Philip High.
Also on the team were Hockomock League players Marcus Giese, Dylan Reno and Tim Prunier of Franklin High and Tri-Valley League player Andreas Kontopidis from Dover-Sherborn.
"Whether it was a defensive stop, block shot, big steal or clutch free throws it seemed everyone made a huge play at some point - we had the perfect group of players who all contributed at some point during the weekend," said Vaughan, taking his MPC team to the "national" tournament for a 13th time, the entry never having finished higher than fourth place.
The MPC came out of its "pool" competition unbeaten in three games and then went on to win four more games en route to the national title.
The MPC team beat Ohio 67-65 in the championship game, almost relinquishing a 12-point lead taken during the third quarter. "It was a "who got game," said Vaughan of the non-stop action. MPC had a three-point lead with 8.6 seconds to go in regulation time. "We were playing aggressive defense with the idea of fouling to send them to the foul line and we missed a loose ball which put us in scramble mode," said Vaughan. "They got a contested look prior to us fouling them."
Ohio missed the shot, the ball banging off of the rim - the rebound coming out above the free throw line. "As time expired the center from the Ohio team dribbled behind the line and chucked up a 3-point point shot that about hit the ceiling or at least seemed like it was that high - hitting nothing but the bottom of the net," said Vaughan, to tie the score at 58-all and force extra minutes.
"With some doubt in our mind and momentum against us, Giese won the tap and Reno advanced the ball up to Boulter who hit the first three-pointer of overtime," recalled Vaughan of MPC re-taking the lead. MPC held on as Boen hit four free throw, while Oftring hit another in the final minute.
In the semifinal round, MPC beat the Columbia Nuggets from South Carolina 65-50, "a much closer game until about three minutes left when we opened it up," said Vaughan.
In the quarterfinal round, MPC beat The Unit from South Carolina 51-38. MPC faced a six-point halftime deficit, when went on lockdown defensively during the third quarter and took a four-point lead into the fourth quarter.
During the first round of bracket play, MPC beat the Albany City Rocks 55-44, using a surge midway through the fourth quarter to break a tie.
"We had a great series," said Vaughan as MPC beat the Florida Tarheels, Nova Cavaliers from West Virginia and Southfield Transition from Louisiana in pool play.
"We went with eight guys so that each player could play and contribute," added Vaughan. "We never had a match-up problem. With guys that we had on the roster, we had players who could defend multiply positions.
"Each player set aside their personal accomplishments for the betterment of the team. This really is a great accomplishment by these young men."