Jose Padilla’s 3-pointer at buzzer gives Newton North thrilling Garden City title

NEWTON — Dating back to his days as a youth basketball player, Jose Padilla always dreamed of making a big play at Newton North’s annual holiday tournament. However, extenuating circumstances prevented him and his teammates from really taking in the full experience.

On Thursday, the Tigers had the opportunity to host the Garden City Championship in front of a packed house, and Padilla took advantage of the moment. The senior captain drilled down the game-ending three-pointer at the buzzer and finished with 23 points as Newton North secured the title with an unforgettable 61–58 overtime win over Catholic Memorial.

Newton North coach Paul Connolly said, “That was a classic.” I keep saying he’s one of the top players in the state, if not the best guard we’ve ever had. I’ve been repeating myself, he’s a great leader in our school, he’s just a solid, solid kid and he’s a great player. Not surprisingly, it was a classic high school basketball game.

Most used Thursday night’s title game as a preview of what Massachusetts high school basketball fans can expect in March. As Connolly noted, Newton North (5-0) controlled the tempo early on and in the second quarter he led 14-6.

But the Catholic Memorial responded. The Knights started the next stanza with a 17-9 run as Ryan Higgins knocked down a triple to even the score at 23-all with 3:02 left in the first half. From that point on, the program traded punches until the end of regulation.

Down 2 with just seconds left, Catholic Memorial realized it needed a bucket of desperation. Higgins cut through the clutch on a layup to tie the game at 54-all and force an overtime session.

The program went back and forth all night, until Catholic Memorial’s Matthew St. Martin stepped into the free-throw line and needed to hit both shots to extend the game. Junior succeeded and with 4.2 seconds left he tied the game again at 58-58.

But that was all the time the Tigers needed. Will Davis hit an inbounds pass to Padilla. Senior began sprinting from coast to coast, firing an off-balance prayer with his horn.

Padilla scored 16 of 23 points in the second half while Davis double-doubled (12 points, 12 rebounds) to propel the Tigers forward.

Malachi Bryant had 18 points to lead the Catholic Memorial.

“I saw four seconds on my watch,” Padilla said later. “I wanted the ball. I shot it.They were a very good team and good energy in the gym.It was definitely a good environment.”

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