boys basketball

Don Bosco (N.J.) wins first state basketball title in 47 years

Don Bosco’s Marcellus Earlington looking for an opening under pressure from St. Augustine’s Charles Solomon and Justyn Mutts. (Photo: Peter Ackerman, Asbury Park Press)

TOMS RIVER, N.J.  – Slowly, painfully, Don Bosco (Ramsey) watched as almost its entire 17-point halftime lead disappeared.

Excitedly, joyfully, the Ironmen celebrated their first state boys basketball title in 47 years.

“Typical game for these seniors,” longtime Don Bosco coach Kevin Diverio said, “down to the wire and somehow they find a way to pull it out. …

“It’s a great feeling. Twenty-two years I’ve been doing this, and it’s nice to get one.”

Don Bosco senior guard Charlie Bagin made two free throws with 9.4 seconds remaining to provide the three-point lead, and sizzling-hot St. Augustine senior guard Austin Kennedy missed a potential game-tying three-pointer in the final seconds.

“It seemed to take forever,” Bagin said of the fourth quarter, which began with the Ironmen holding a 54-40 lead. “We turned it over a little too much, we missed a few too many free throws, and every time we turned around, they were coming down and making a shot. But luckily we answered when we had to.”

The Ironmen (28-1) advance to the 29th annual Tournament of Champions and will learn their seed in the six-team field following the conclusion of Sunday’s four public state finals at Rutgers.

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