LYNN —There was no panic from Josh Campbell and the Archbishop Williams boys’ basketball team.
Not when St. Mary’s erupted for a blistering second-half run and held a double-digit lead. And certainly not when the Bishops trailed by 1 point with seconds left and their undefeated season on the line.
Embodying his team’s calm and collected manner down the stretch, Campbell converted the winning layup with 1.2 seconds left as the fifth-ranked Bishops earned a 78-77 win over No. 15 St. Mary’s Friday night.
The victory enabled the Bishops (14-0) to keep their perfect season intact and clinch the program’s first Catholic Central Large title since 2006.
“It took a lot tonight,” said Campbell. “We had to dig deep. We stayed confident and we knew what we were doing wrong. It was a matter of time before we fixed it.”
On the winning sequence, Campbell caught the ball on the left block and spun to the hoop, but his initial shot hit the front rim. Andres Espiallat corralled the offensive rebound and passed to a relocated Campbell in the paint.
The senior did not hesitate on the second try, rising to the rim for an uncontested lay-in as the clock wound down. St. Mary’s had one final shot, but a desperation heave from midcourt caromed off the backboard to close out an intense battle between the top ranked teams in the MIAA’s Division 3 power rankings.
“That last play was just a scramble and it was a great rebound by Andres,” said Campbell, who finished with 23 points and eight rebounds. “It was a great feeling.”
Senior guard Tristan Rodriguez netted a game-high 29 points on seven made 3-pointers, his hot shooting fueling the Bishop’s fourth-quarter comeback.
“It’s funny when Tristan transferred in from Braintree, I didn’t know he was a great shooter,” said Archbishop Williams coach Brian Holden. “It’s been 14 games and he’s done this. Tristan is a gamer and when stuff is on the line he makes plays.”
The comeback spoiled a momentous day for St. Mary’s senior David Brown Jr., a Globe Super Teamer in football and basketball. Earlier Friday, Brown announced his commitment to play football at Bentley. Then in the first quarter, the senior guard recorded his 1,000th career point on his way to a 27-point performance.
Brown helped the defending D3 state champions build a 55-44 lead late in the third quarter and then a 75-70 lead with two minutes left. Omri Merryman added 15 points and five rebounds for the Spartans (10-4).
“David’s had a great career here and it’s a great accomplishment,” said St. Mary’s coach David Brown Sr. “It’s tough it was on a losing night, but I’m proud of him.”
Last year, the Bishops traveled to Lynn and fell to St. Mary’s with the league title on the line. On Friday, Holden and his team celebrated in the visiting locker room for a program-defining win.
“What St. Mary’s has done is something we aspire to do,” said Holden. “We answered their runs and I’m really proud of my team.”