Bulldogs’ state championship run falls short

Mar 16, 2024

LOWELL — After 13 straight victories, the Old Rochester Regional High School boys basketball team lost to Charlestown High School 61-40 in the MIAA Div. 3 state championship game on Saturday, March 16 at the Tsongas Center in Lowell. 

Senior Captains Chase Besancon and John Butler scored 17 and 16 points respectively, but their efforts were not enough for the Bulldogs to lift the trophy after the game.

“We didn’t shoot the ball well tonight,” said Old Rochester head coach Steve Carvalho. “We played them fairly tough at times…and they hurt us with the big guy down the stretch, he made some big shots.”

“The big guy” referred to Charlestown’s Jaylin Williams Crawford, who stood 6’6” tall. Williams Crawford scored 26 points, giving the Bulldogs problems inside of the paint, especially in the second half. 

“We’re disappointed but I couldn’t be any prouder of this team right now,” said Carvalho.

It was the Bulldogs’ first trip to the state championship game in nine years. 

Carvalho said that the teams’ tournament run, which included three victories at Old Rochester and one at Worcester State, was a memorable one.

“It might not mean all that much to our players right now but they will reflect someday and realize what they accomplished,” said Carvalho. 

Besancon said that he will look back at his time as a Bulldog fondly.

“I’m going to remember the fun practices and good times with my teammates,” said Besancon. “The bus rides, celebrating after victories and the chemistry that we had.”

Carvalho and Besancon agreed that rebounding was a problem for Old Rochester in the state championship game. Charleston was able to keep possession after missing shots on the offensive end for most of the game.

After Charlestown started the game on a 12-3 scoring run, Carvalho called a timeout and convened with his team. 

The timeout worked, as the Bulldogs managed to climb back into the game, trailing by just three points at the end of the first quarter. 

As Carvalho said, jumpshots just didn’t seem to be falling for Old Rochester. So, they looked to Besancon, who consistently made his way to the rim for layups. He scored 11 of the Bulldogs’ 16 first half points. 

After trailing 26-16 at halftime, Butler came out of the locker room on a mission, quickly making two 3-pointers. The second cut Charlestown’s lead to 28-23, but that would be as close as the Bulldogs got. 

Charlestown expanded their lead to 15 points by the end of the third quarter, mainly through the scoring of Williams Crawford, and maintained the lead for the rest of the game. 

The Bulldogs finish the season with 21 wins, 5 losses and a South Coast Conference title.