The race for the Catholic Conference is all tied up.
Corey Dolison had 23 points, including 16 in the second half, as Catholic Memorial evened the score with Malden Catholic, 69-62, on Friday night in Malden to get even atop the Catholic Conference standings.
Sophomore Matthew Gaffney, who was the Lancers star in the initial meeting between the two teams, poured in 28 points on Friday night. The loss represents the first blemish on the season for Malden Catholic, widely considered a top five team in Massachusetts and once again the favorite in Division 2.
“We were really looking forward to tonight,” Catholic Memorial coach Denis Tobin said. “We had a couple very good practices. I think they all thought they were going to beat Malden Catholic tonight. I did, too.”
While often proving as a key role piece for Tobin’s group, Dolison had to take on an even larger role Friday night when junior guard Ryan Higgins went down with an injury. Dolison showcased no signs of nerves despite entering into the game in front of a full house. The junior drilled three three-pointers in the third quarter, the latter of which put CM up 12, while also knocking down the game clinching free throws with less than a minute left.
“Corey is having a terrific season,” Tobin said. “Ryan Higgins got hurt and so we had to handle him the ball. That’s part of what makes us so strong. We have high character guys. Corey comes off the bench and we have no drop off whatsoever.”
Catholic Memorial (13-2, 7-1) held a 26-19 lead at the break but exploded in the third. Largely behind Dolison’s aforementioned triples along with five points from Peter Gellene the Knights took a 46-31 advantage into the final frame.
CM’s lead got as large as 19 points in the fourth quarter but MC came storming back. Buckley Moody finished through traffic to cap off a 13-3 run that trimmed the deficit to 53-44 with 3:30 remaining. Moments later, after Knights junior forward Jacob Cofield had a putback, Gaffney answered with consecutive three-pointers to cut the lead to 59-54 with 90 seconds left. Malden Catholic got as close as four, 64-60, but Dolison knocked down two key shots at the charity stripe and CM forced a turnover to secure the crucial road win.
“This team is unlike maybe some of my other CM teams where we would just outscore you,” Tobin said. “We held them to 19 points in the first half and they’re a very good offensive team. We stepped up at the end of the floor tonight and that’s what I am most proud of.”