With six players on his nine-man roster new to his varsity basketball team at South Boston, Jeremy Silva worried how well his team would mesh going into the season.
In Tuesday afternoon’s season opener against Fenway at the Hennigan School, however, the Knights were able to come together for eight solid minutes in the third quarter to bust open what was ultimately a lopsided 89-49 victory.
After only leading, 39-31, at the half, South Boston (1-0) outscored the Panthers 32-10 in the third quarter to take a 30-point lead into the final quarter.
“We were playing a little lazy and nobody was working hard on defense to get back,” senior Phil Lodge, who scored a game-high 30 points, said of the first half. “In the second half we had to turn it up and play a little more aggressive and press. … It was a good game, it builds up our confidence a little.
“Give us one more game and we’ll be working hard like Coach Carter.”
The Knights (1-0) also got double-digit outputs from junior Andrell Reed (13 points), junior Jamari Jackson (11 points), and senior Marcus Campbell (10 points).
“The second half was better than the first half, definitely,” Silva said. “We had a talk about halftime about just doing your job. We had a lot of kids who were kind of freelancing, trying to cover for each other when that’s now what we need to do.
“Each kid just came out and did their job in the second half and when all five guys are doing their job good things happen.”
Fenway senior guard Rickey Smith, who had a team-high 19 points, opened the second half with a pair of free throws to cut the lead 39-33.
But then it was all South Boston the rest of the third quarter.
The Knights went on a 20-2 run, including 4 straight transition points off turnovers, to go up, 57-33, with 5:26 left in the quarter.
The run only ended when senior David Stewart accidentally tipped the ball into the wrong hoop.
Stewart made up for it by scoring 6 of the Knights' final 14 points of the quarter to take a 71-41 lead into the final quarter.
Stewart, who is the half brother of the David Stewart who plays football and basketball for Madison Park, was playing in his first ever varsity basketball game for South Boston.
Stewart started off slow but finished with 9 points.
“It was alright,” Stewart said. “I’m used to playing basketball so I just took it like a regular basketball game.”
Fenway (0-1) got back into the game at the end of the first half after an 8-0 South Boston run that made the score 35-22 with about two minutes left in the half. After scoring two straight baskets, the Panthers gave up two straight baskets before junior guard Johnel Ledesma converted a 3-point play at the buzzer to put his team down, 39-31 at the half.
“In the end of the second half we just started playing defense and we had a few turnovers that we were able to force,” Fenway coach Murales Louis said. “We were able to attack them from half court. But for the most part we didn’t do a good job of breaking the press even though we practiced it. We had like 29 turnovers.”
But Louis, whose team didn’t win a game all last season, is confident that they will be able to put up a ‘W’ this season.
“It’s the first game and we have a whole bunch of new guys playing organized ball for the first time,” he said. “So more practice and more time together and they’ll gel I think."
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- Justin A. Rice -- A metro Detroit native, Rice is a Michigan State University (Go Spartans!) and Northeastern University graduate. Rice lives in the South End with his dog and wife, who unfortunately attended the University of Michigan ... his wife, that is. He curates the BPS Sports Blog and is always looking to write about city athletes with great stories. Have an idea? He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJustinRice or @BPSspts.
- Ryan Butler -- A Rhode Island native and avid Boston sports fan, Butler played basketball, baseball and football throughout his time in Barrington Public Schools. Now currently in his middler year at Northeastern University, he joins Boston.com as a correspondent for the site's BPS coverage. Have a story idea? Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on his Twitter @butler_globe.