Post mortem; Desrosiers' turnaround shot dooms Pioneers.

Position::SPORTS
 
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Byline: Jennifer Toland

WORCESTER - Last year, St. John's players were the ones jumping, cheering, hugging, clapping and raising the Division 1 state champion trophy.

This year, the Pioneers could only watch - and it was hard to do so - as Central Catholic held its center-court celebration at the DCU Center.

Raiders senior center Carson Desrosiers scored with 5 seconds to play to cap a frantic finish and lift Central to a scintillating 56-55 victory and its third state title in school history.

The 6-foot-11 Desrosiers, who'll head to Wake Forest in the fall, scored a game-high 26 points, 19 in the second half. The game was a rematch of the 2008 final, also won by Central.

"We come out every year and we want to win a state championship, that's our goal," St. John's junior forward Richard Rodgers said. "We just didn't do it this year."

St. John's, making its third straight state final appearance, finished another outstanding season at 24-3. Senior guard David White led St. John's with 18 points. Rodgers added 16.

After Desrosiers' bucket and a timeout by each team, White drove to the basket but missed as time expired.

"A layup by our best player at the end of the game, that's what we wanted," St. John's coach Bob Foley said.

Both teams were backed by large and lively student sections, which had plenty to get excited about.

A White rebound basket gave St. John's a 44-43 lead early in the fourth quarter and the Pioneers maintained the advantage until Desrosiers' winning shot.

Desrosiers got the Raiders within a point with 1:35 to play, but on Central's next possession, St. John's sophomore Matt Palecki came down with a huge rebound and sank two free throws to give the Pioneers a 55-52 lead with 53 seconds left. Palecki did an admirable job with starting center Chad LaBove in foul trouble the whole game.

Desrosiers scored to keep the Raiders within a point and, in the closing seconds, Rodgers missed three straight free throws to set the stage for Desrosiers' winner.

"I went to my favorite post move, a fadeaway over the right shoulder," he said, "and right when I threw it up there, I knew it was going to be good off the glass."

Central Catholic, 26-1 this season, went 93-11 in Desrosiers' four years.

"He's our guy," said Central Catholic coach Richard Nault, who played at Worcester State. "He's going to Wake Forest for a reason. He makes plays for us."

St. John's survived a 17-0 second-quarter Central run to trail by only five at halftime....

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