Upset Win by St. Mary’s Sets New High in Tech Drama
By John Vellante, Globe Staff
Down through the years, that annual March basketball carnival they call the Tech Tournament has provided thrills by the thousands. Few though, can equal those felt by a capacity Boston Garden crowd on March 11, 1961 – 10 years ago. There was little St. Mary’s High of Waltham, with an enrollment of less than 300 boys pitted against Braintree, the giant-killers of the Bay State League.
It was a Saturday and the two teams were matched in the Class B final. Braintree was a heavy favorite and the 13,909 fans expected no contest.
Why should they? St. Mary’s lacked height and represented the lightly regarded Catholic Central League. St. Mary’s had barely gotten past Jamaica Plain in its Tech opener, 48-42, and then beat Catholic Memorial in overtime, 60-56. In the semi-final, it rallied in the Second-half to oust Needham, 62–49.
Braintree was a tourney-tested entry. It had height, scoring punch and had rolled, over three opponents en route to the final.
Braintree raced to a 15-8 first period lead and upped the margin to 28-19 at the half. St. Mary’s pecked away and after three periods trailed by four, 42–38. Midway through the final period, Braintree opened up an eight-point lead with less than three minutes remaining. St. Mary’s proved a spunky bunch though, and with 1:42 left to play, tied the game at 48–48 when all-scholastic and all-Catholic guard Bobby Furbush scored on a steal and a lay-up.
It was the first time in the game that St. Mary’s had not trailed.
Braintree decided to hold for the one good shot and with 12 seconds left, super-star George Deehan missed from the right side. Furbush grabbed the rebound and immediately called time out. The Garden clock showed 10 seconds.
The play was simple and obvious. Guard Joe Driscoll was to put the ball in play to Furbush, the team’s leading scorer. But Furbush was double-teamed and had no shot. He passed back to Driscoll at mid-court.
Now there were two seconds. Driscoll uncorked a two-handed set, the ball swished and the buzzer sounded. St. Mary’s had defeated mighty Braintree, 50-48 to become the first Catholic school to win the Class B title in its 22-year history and the Garden erupted into pandemonium. In the 10 years
since, Driscoll’s two-handed set has been known as “the shot heard round the state.”
Joining Furbush and Driscoll as starters on that St. Mary’s team were Jerry Bowes, Frank Bergin and Paul Sullivan. Sullivan, who attended BC and coached at Newton, died in the Vietnam War.
Furbush went on to play for BC’s NIT team.
While the St. Mary’s student body wildly celebrated in the Garden, Furbush was somber.
His dad, Russ, St. Mary’s biggest booster and his son’s favorite fan, did not witness the win. He had died just days before.
Reprinted from The Boston Sunday Globe March 7, 1971