Dracut High basketball players swarm the court after defeating Weston in Division 3 North final on late basket.  (SUN Julia Malakie)
Dracut High basketball players swarm the court after defeating Weston in Division 3 North final on late basket. (SUN Julia Malakie)

LOWELL -- The Dracut High basketball team has emerged as the poster boys for the madness that makes state tourney time in March so special.

DHS 43, Weston 42

After finishing with a 1-19 record in 2018, the Middies were just happy to be dipping their toe in the postseason pool this season. Dracut, which compiled a 10-10 regular-season record competing in the rugged Merrimack Valley Conference, was the 12th seed in the Division 3 North field.

Since Dracut had butted heads with the likes of Lowell, Central Catholic and North Andover this winter, it was assumed the battle-tested Middies were capable of making some noise in the tourney. But few expected this noise to turn into a roar that has resonated like summer thunder all the way from Lakeview Avenue to Causeway Street in Boston.

Dracut High’s J.C. Santiago (left) and William Peters celebrate their win over Weston in the MIAA Division 3 North championship game. SUN/Julia
Dracut High's J.C. Santiago (left) and William Peters celebrate their win over Weston in the MIAA Division 3 North championship game. SUN/Julia Malakie

Playing like the second coming of Buster Douglas in high tops, the Miracle Middies have defied the odds while punching their ticket to local high school basketball's ultimate Garden party.

Senior guard Mitchell Monette scored the winning basket on a put-back with 2.1 seconds left to play as Dracut edged Weston, 43-42, in the Division 3 North championship game at the Tsongas Center Saturday.

Dracut (14-10) will play South champion Bishop Stang (19-5) in a Division 3 state semifinal at the TD Garden on Wednesday at 3:45 p.m.

According to Dracut officials this is the Middies' first sectional crown in boys basketball.

"Coming into the season I told them, 'We're going to get a ring,'" said Monette, who hit a game-winning trey with 15 seconds remaining in the semifinal win over No.


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1 seed St. Mary's. "And we're still playing. We're going to the TD Garden! It's just amazing. A dream come true."

It's one thing to put a dream into words, but it's another thing to make that dream come true. From a one win season a year ago, Dracut is now two wins shy of a state title.

"From where this program has come from is a story for ESPN," said Dracut's first-year head coach Brian Myers. "I pinch myself every night that we're even in this spot. As I reflect and I look back at the road we traveled to get here, it wasn't easy. When you beat Newburyport on the road (in the quarterfinals), and then you beat a St. Mary's club that not one person outside of our locker room gave us any chance of winning. It's so special.

"The tough part today was getting our guys to refocus after the big win against St. Mary's. But we've been able to do that all year. These kids were locked in. It's emotional. We're all tired. But we're still playing."

Freshman guard Adrian Torres, who hit the game-winning trey with time winding down to beat Newburyport, paced Dracut's offense with 14 points.

Monette tallied 11 points and had eight rebounds. Will Peters (3 points, 11 rebounds), Cam McCullough (5 points, 13 rebounds) and Farai Zuvaradoka played well. JC Santiago (6 points) and Tyler Guerriero (4 points) turned in great efforts off the bench.

"I've been through the tough times," said McCullough, a senior guard. "If you told me after last year that we'd be headed to the TD Garden this year, I wouldn't have known how to respond. It's something that never would have entered my mind."

But Dracut has proven anything is possible when a team plays as a unit.

"This means everything," said Peters. "Coach Myers has done a great job rebuilding this program. The town is very excited. I can't believe we're going to the Garden."

Weston led 23-20 at halftime and held the lead for much of the second half. Weston (13-11) took a one point lead when Sawyer Mayhugh sank a free throw with 35.9 seconds left to play.

On its final possession Dracut had a tough time getting an open look. With the seconds winding down on the shot clock, and more importantly the game clock, Santiago threw up a trey that caromed off the back rim and into the waiting hands of Monette, who grabbed the rebound and sank the winning shot from the middle of the paint.

"It was chaos," said Monette. "We were just trying to get an open shot. When the shot went up I just crashed. Once I got the ball I just threw it up."

No matter what thrills remain this season, the Magical Middies have made the good folks of Dracut proud.

"This is unbelievable for the community," said Myers. "I'm so proud of these kids. You don't want it to end. There are only a couple teams standing at the end of the year, and right now we're one of them."

Follow Carmine Frongillo on Twitter @cwfrongi