BEVERLY, Mass. -- For all of the major Division I talent on the floor, it was Worcester Academy's Tim Burns who stole the spotlight on Wednesday night at the NEPSAC quarterfinals.
Burns, a 6-2 guard from Greenfield, Mass., (the younger brother of former UMass guard and current Youngstown State assistant coach Ross), hit a three pointer to give the Hilltoppers the lead for good in a hard fought 74-69 victory over the St. Thomas More School.
"Timmy Burns won us the game tonight," said Worcester Head Coach Mo Cassara. "He hit three-three pointers, hit them at key times, and he defended and played hard."
Burns' three pointer broke a 56-56 deadlock with 5:06 to play, and sparked an 8-0 run that was capped by Dwight Brewington's (right) three pointer with 3:29 remaining. When the smoke cleared, Worcester led 64-56.
St. Thomas More hung around, and pulled to within 68-65 with :29 left on a three pointer by forward Ryan Cahak. The Hilltoppers put the game out of reach by hitting six of six free throws over the final 27.3 seconds, with Steve Hailey (Boston College) hitting a pair and the providence-bound Brewington four.
Free throw shooting proved to be a big difference in the game. Worcester shot 21 of 25 from the charity stripe, while the Chancellors managed just 14 of 24 from the free throw line.
"We had to shoot the ball very well and make free throws, and those were two things we were weak at," said STM Head Coach Jere Quinn. "Often times with prep schools, it's always a kid that you don't expect to beat you, and I thought the kid for them was [Burns]."
Brewington led the way for the Hilltoppers with 15 points. Sam Kaplan (Yale) and Hailey netted 14 points apiece, while Carl Elliott (George Washington) and Burns pitched in 12 and 11 points, respectively.
"We gutted one out," Cassara said. "Sometimes you have to gut that first one out, get it under your belt, and then go play."
"I am happy that we won, but I was not happy with our performance," Cassara continued. "Our guards have to take care of the ball better, and make better decisions."
Despite playing without star shooting guard Quincy Douby (Rutgers) who was sitting out for disciplinary reasons, STM got solid performances from Hofstra bound Loren Stokes (19 points) and Quinnipiac signee Van Crafton (15 points). Cahak also hit for double figures with 11 points.
Fifth seeded Worcester advanced to Friday's semifinals against Bridgton Academy at Endicott College.
Fourth seeded St. Thomas More finished its season at 24-6 with the loss.