NORTH CHAMPS! Raiders Win Shootout With Bedford, Heading to Garden

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Charlie Breitrose

Watertown junior John Korte jumps into the arms of a teammate after the Raiders won the North Section Final.

Charlie Breitrose

Watertown junior John Korte jumps into the arms of a teammate after the Raiders won the North Section Final.

BURLINGTON – The Watertown High School boys basketball players and their fans could not contain themselves when the final buzzer sounded Saturday night. Having won the a thrilling North Section final, 59-52 over Bedford, WHS students poured out of the stands to celebrate with their classmates.

Each game during the Watertown High School boys basketball team’s tournament run someone stepped up to make key plays, and Saturday night the Raiders had to dig deep onto the bench to secure the win and the trip to the Garden for the state semifinal.

Watertown basketball coach Steve Harrington, a veteran of 10 section finals, said Saturday’s win was one to remember.

“It was as intense a game as I’ve been involved with,” Harrington said.

Charlie Breitrose

Junior point guard Julio Fulcar scored a game-high 27 points in Watertown’s win over Bedford.

Watertown spent the first half building a 10 point lead, but when two of its big three players – junior center John Korte and sophomore guard Vondre Chase – on the bench with four fouls, the Buccaneers erased the lead and went ahead 52-51 with 2:39 left in the fourth quarter.

On the Raiders next possession, senior forward Jayden Hairston would not let Bedford get the ball back. He grabbed two rebounds off Watertown misses, and eventually the ball got to the remaining big gun, junior point guard Julio Fulcar, who drained a three pointer with 2:05 left.

“Jayden keeps the ball alive. The amount of tips he gets and finds a way to get it back to us, or gets it himself. Those are big plays,” Harrington said. “He gives us extra possessions, and I think those extra possessions were big for us.”

Charlie Breitrose

The Raiders got some key contributions from senior Jayden Hairston in the North Final victory over Bedford.

Watertown’s defense clamped down, and held the Bucs scoreless for the rest of the game. Fulcar scored four more points – a basket and two free throws – and Korte added another freebie to extend the final margin to seven.

Watching his teammates sit with foul trouble, Fulcar said he knew things just got a lot tougher, and he had to do whatever he could to help his team win. He did so by scoring a game high 27 points, including 11 in the fourth quarter, but he said he had help.

“We knew we had it in us,” Fulcar said. “I knew Jayden had it in him. I knew Vondre had it in him. I knew the bench guys had it in them – everyone had it.”

Charlie Breitrose

Watertown junior center sails in for a dunk in the first quarter of the 59-52 win in the North Section final.

Hairston also had the duty of guarding Bedford’s big man, Malachi Hazelton.

“It was definitely tough, extremely physical. I knew I had to bring my most physical game,” Hairston said. “(Hazelton is) a phenomenal player. I studied him.”

The studying paid off. Hazelton scored 13 but fouled out at the end of the game. Along with six points and some key rebonds, Hairston also drew a couple charges.

Just like he did in the Section Semifinal, Watertown senior forward Isaac Huff hit from outside. He scored nine points on three treys.

The bench even got into the act. Senior guard Lance Kuo drove to the hoop for a key two points to help the Raiders limit the damage of Bedford’s run.

Charlie Breitrose

Watertown senior forward Isaac Huff hit three 3-pointers against Bedford.

Korte, the team’s top scorer this season, contributed despite his foul trouble. The first two of his 12 first half points came on a break away dunk, and it helped build the 31-21 halftime lead. He finished with 15.

After the celebration settled down to a simmer, Fulcar talked about making it to the Garden.

“That was the goal from day one, and it happened,” Fulcar said.

Watertown will face South Champions Hanover in Boston on Monday at 4 p.m.

Charlie Breitrose

Watertown basketball players and students celebrate with the North Section Championship trophy.

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