It’s the most wonderful time of the year! No, not the holidays and Christmas–I’m talking about postseason basketball, more commonly known as March Madness.
The heart of championship basketball in the Commonwealth this season runs directly through Bob Cousy’s hometown. Perhaps nowhere else in the state is postseason excitement and anticipation as high throughout the high school, prep school and college game as Worcester looks to leave a permanent mark on the Massachusetts and New England hoops scene this month.
Starting with the high school ranks, the city boasts two remarkable high school teams that are poised to make a deep run in the state tournament–the North High boys and the South High girls. Both squads recently claimed district titles for Central Mass. and no team in Massachusetts has beaten either team all season.
The North High Polar Bears (18-2), who host Wellesley at home at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, March 3 in the Division 1 state tournament, have only lost two games and both were at a holiday tournament in Florida to nationally recognized teams. Keep in mind that a Worcester public school has never won a Division 1 boys basketball state title, so a new chapter could be written in the city’s storied basketball history.
The South High Colonels (21-0) will put their perfect record to the test when they host Hanover in the Division 2 state tournament at 6 p.m. on Friday. The only unbeaten team in the bracket, South has won 41 of 43 games in the last two seasons.
You can bet that both gyms at North and South will be filled to capacity with pumped up Worcester fans on Friday night. Get there early and get loud! Hopefully we can get these games in before the heavy snow starts to fall.
Also of note, the South High boys team, a winner over Melrose in the Division 2 state tournament on Monday, travels to Sharon for a second round matchup on Friday at 6:30 p.m. The boys teams at both Worcester Tech (2019 Division 4 State Champions) and Abby Kelley were eliminated from tournament play earlier this week along with the Doherty High girls team.
At the prep school level, the Worcester Academy (25-5) boys team has been quite impressive all season up on Providence Street as they hope to repeat as NEPSAC Class AA champions. The Hilltoppers, who feature a handful of players committed to top Division I college programs, host Brimmer & May in the semifinals on Saturday at a time to be announced.
In the college game, the men’s team at Worcester State University punched its ticket to the NCAA Division 3 tournament this season for the first time in 29 years. The Lancers (22-5), alma mater of No Excuse Produce founder Robert Hunter, square off against Middlebury College in Vermont on Friday at 6:10 p.m. A Worcester State win could set up a second round all Central Mass. matchup with Nichols College. The Bison (23-5) have won six straight conference titles and come into the tournament on
a 17-game winning streak.
Whether you’re a fan of the Polar Bears, the Colonels, the Hilltoppers or the Lancers, Worcester has quite a lot to offer in exciting basketball over the next few weeks. So sit back, relax (well, maybe not), root for the Worcester teams and enjoy the show! We are truly fortunate to live in such a rich basketball community.
Let’s bring home a championship Worcester!