Dillon White Sinks Game-Winner To Lift Nauset Over Fitchburg In Division 2 Boys Opener

By: Brad Joyal

Topics: Basketball , Nauset Regional High School

Nauset coach Kevin Harrigan called senior Andrew Berardi, seen here cutting through the lane against Dennis-Yarmouth, “the total catalyst” for Monday’s comeback victory. BRAD JOYAL FILE PHOTO

The final play didn’t work out the way Nauset’s first-year boys basketball coach Kevin Harrigan drew it up. However, in the end, the coach and his team got the result they were searching for.

And the Warriors are moving on.

After trailing for most of Monday’s Division 2 preliminary-round matchup at No. 26 Fitchburg, 39th-seeded Nauset hung around and made its move in the final two quarters of play.

The team’s resilience paid off in the waning seconds, as senior Dillon White made a game-winning jump shot from the middle of the lane with seven seconds remaining to propel Nauset to a 59-58 win.

“I’d love to say that I drew it up, but I did not draw it up that way,” Harrigan said. “[The play] broke down and the ball got out to the corner in a scramble to Liam Johnston, who also had a really good game for us.

“Liam pump-faked in the corner, drove in and made a difficult pass to Dillon at the free throw line and he made a 10-foot jump shot.”

Nauset (13-8) now advances to face seventh-seeded Pope Francis (17-3) on the road in a Round of 32 matchup Friday at 6 p.m. Fitchburg finishes with a 13-7 mark.

Although it was White who came through in the clutch with the biggest bucket of his team-high 18-point night, the Warriors’ win was about the team’s toughness and resilience — two qualities that helped the squad capture the Cape and Islands League’s Atlantic Division title outright during the regular season.

Fitchburg led 17-8 at the end of the first quarter, 30-19 at halftime and 46-39 at the start of the fourth before Nauset clawed its way back into the game.

“I think we saw in the second quarter — even though it wasn’t really going our way yet — that we could play with them,” Harrigan said. “We just needed to try to limit our turnovers and really try to dig in and match up defensively and try to turn them into jump shooters. We did a good job executing.”

The rookie head coach credited seniors Andrew Berardi, Nico Harrington and Dillon White for helping to lead the comeback.

“Andrew Berardi was the total catalyst for it and really turned the tides with his energy and his slashing ability,” Harrington said of the senior, who scored 11 of his 13 points during the second half. “In a game full of athletes, I think he looked like the best one out there. He did a lot for us.

“There was another really big defensive effort from Nico — he probably had another seven or eight blocks and 14 points. And of course, Dillon White hit the game-winner. He really punished them down there all night.”

What made Nauset’s comeback even more impressive was that the team struggled shooting from outside. The Warriors didn’t make a single 3-pointer, instead relying on 27 2-point field goals and five made foul shots.

“To win on the road when you can’t make a shot from outside is a testament to the kind of grinders and hard workers the kids are,” Harrington said. “It’s really cool to see that success.”

Although the team’s rotation tightened, Harrington credited the entire team — including bench players — for their part in the win.

“It’s been a connected, really positive group all year,” he said. “The rotation has tightened a little bit, but the bench was really positive and exuberant as ever.”


Email Brad Joyal at brad@capecodchronicle.com.

Twitter: @BradJoyal