After 13 years, championship trophy is back in town
LOWELL — After an astonishing run in the regular season and the playoffs, the Vikings boys basketball team is taking the Division 4 state championship trophy back to Wareham after its 13-year absence.
The Vikings beat the Springfield International Charter School Bulldogs 66-40 in the championship game, held at the Tsongas Center on Sunday, March 19.
It was the Vikings’ first state championship win since 2010.
“Our goal from our first practice was to win the state championship,” Head Coach Steve Faniel said after the game.
In the regular season, the Vikings had a 22-3 record, the best in the South Coast.
In Sunday’s game, the Vikings won the opening tipoff and never lost their stride.
Vikings center Antoine Crosson scored the first basket of the game, creating a lasting lead over Springfield.
Crosson was a key defensive player throughout, rejecting shots and grabbing rebounds.
Faniel said that “rebounds were huge” in bringing the Vikings to victory.
The Bulldogs gained momentum during the beginning of the second half as Wareham racked up fouls, but by the end of the third quarter, the Vikings built a 19-point lead.
Team captain Ajay Lopes led the way in scoring. He racked up 20 points for the team, many of them coming on the fast break.
According to Lopes, “athleticism and speed” were the keys to his team’s success.
“We kept running and they couldn’t keep up with us, they got tired fast,” he said. “We just kept going and pushing it.”
Lopes said that the Vikings were determined to win so that senior and center Elijah Carrion could end his Vikings career on a high note.
“There wasn’t a better way for him to finish playing in high school,” said Elijah’s dad Johnny Carrion.
Faniel said that he was proud of his team and their performance throughout the season.
“We were the number one seed for a reason,” he said. “It was a lot of hours of effort that they put in on their own.”
Wareham High School Principal Scott Palladino echoed Faniel’s words, saying that the Vikings “are even better human beings than they are athletes.”
When the Vikings returned home, escorted by police and fire trucks, they received a hero’s welcome.