'Canes blow past St. B's.

Byline: Rich Garven

WORCESTER - The St. Bernard's boys' basketball team had been in the zone since mid-January. Last night, it entered the dead zone.

The Bernardians, winners of 12 straight and 16 of 17, saw their terrific run end at the hands of hot-shooting Hoosac Valley, 66-52, in a Division 2 state semifinal at the DCU Center.

St. Bernard's was held to one point over the final four minutes of the first half and left the floor trailing, 32-30. However, a turnover-plagued start to the second half that saw it fall behind, 43-32, was too much to overcome.

The Bernardians never got closer than six after that, their season ending at 17-8. It wasn't the finish they dreamt of, but considering the nightmarish way things began it was more than most anyone expected.

"Coach told us all along we'd be there," said senior center Chris Lane, referencing that much-publicized 1-6 start St. Bernard's overcame. "We've lost before. We know what it's like. You just have to handle it and be gracious."

Hoosac Valley, 21-3 and Western Mass. champs for the first time in six years, will face the winner of tonight's EMass elimination bout between Woburn and Milton here at 4 p.m. Saturday in the final.

The Hurricanes made seven 3-pointers in its first three postseason games. They were 10 for 23 on long balls last night, including one ridiculous stretch in the second half when they made 5 of 6.

"They gave us the 3-point shot," coach Bill Robinson said. "When teams come out and play us (tight) we struggle to make them. I thought their defense was a little soft on the perimeter and gave us some breathing room."

The Hurricanes also dominated inside with 6-foot-4 junior forward Robbie Burke leading the way with 22 points, 18 of them in the first half. Burke, who added seven rebounds and four assists, stepped outside long enough to knock down a trio of treys.

"He's a good player," Lane said. "He's very physical, gets on the boards and definitely can finish. You just have to play him as best you can and get a body on him."

As great as Burke was, it's hard to get the job done when you're sitting on the bench. And that was the case for nearly six minutes in the fourth quarter, foul No. 4 leading to his departure with the Hurricanes leading, 49-41, with 7:12 to play.

Opportunity knocked for the Bernardians and they attempted to answer by aggressively attacking the basket. That resulted in a pair of free throws each by junior Andrew Gosselin (13 points) and sophomore John...

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