Brighton was unable to end national powerhouse St. Anthony's win streak at 68 games on Thursday night.
The Jersey City, N.J., team led by Hall of Fame coach Bob Hurley extended its best-in-the-nation run to 69 games with a 78-42 victory against the Bengals during the second annual Shooting Touch Holiday Shootout at Emmanuel College’s Jean Yawkey Center.
“That’s crazy, I didn’t even know that,” said Brighton junior guard Nick Simpson, who scored a game-high 21 points. “I could [imagine a 69-game win streak] if you were coached by one of the best coaches to ever coach; they all work hard. That’s what they do, they all work hard. They are one team, they are together.”
The Friars (4-0), who will play Central Catholic at 7 p.m. Friday night, defeated New Mission, 68-25, in the inaugural tournament at the Kroc Center in Dorchester last year. New Mission played Christ the King of Queens, N.Y. in Thursday’s nightcap.
Hurley is on the Shooting Touch board of directors and all tournament proceeds go to the Shooting Touch Sabbatical Program, which grants graduating college seniors the opportunity to partake in a 10-month international work program using basketball to foster education and influence positive social change in third world communities.
Hurley will also conduct a free coaching clinic for coaches in Boston on Saturday at the Shelburne Community Center (2730 Washington St.) in Roxbury from 9 to 11 a.m.
Brighton (2-3) spotted St. Anthony 20 points before it finally got on the board in the first quarter. St Anthony senior forward Kody Jenkins (20 points) scored 11 points in the 20-0 run, including the first 4 of the game. He also had a 3-pointer followed by a transition dunk in quick succession.
Brighton finally scored with 47 seconds left in the first quarter when junior point guard Malik James hit a runner in the paint before the Friars took a 20-2 lead into the second quarter.
“They missed a lot of threes early,” Hurley said. “If those shots are going in, things could be a little different early. They got that little run going and hit a couple and all of a sudden they started to go, but then we banged a bunch in a row.
‘They are going to be a very difficult team. I like their athleticism; they really get off the floor. When they miss shots they are all over the offensive boards. We had problems keeping them off the offensive boards.”
Brighton opened the second quarter with a quick 3-pointer by Simpson but St. Anthony responded with a 3-pointer by senior guard Hallice Cook to go up 23-5. Simpson scored the next bucket followed by one by Brighton junior shooting guard Mark Mojica to make the score 23-9.
But St. Anthony closed out the half with an 18-3 run, including three 3-pointers, to go into the locker room with a 41-12 edge and the game pretty much in its pocket.
“I’m trying to figure out what makes our guys tick and why we didn’t have more energy to start the game,” Brighton coach Hugh Coleman said. “That’s mind boggling to me. After a while I felt like we had an opportunity to hang a little bit. We came on late, had a very slow start. Tough one, but we go to the drawing board and we take positives out of it and we build on it.”
Coleman said it was an honor to coach against Hurley.
“Coach Hurley is a hall of fame coach, I hope to emulate that and build a program on the same kind of principles and foundations he has and that’s what we’re working for,” Coleman said. “I desire to get to that position and it was an honor for us.”
During the Friar’s 69-game win streak, St. Anthony won two state championships, including Hurley’s 27th state title last spring to cap a 32-0 campaign.
After the game Hurley was a little tight-lipped about the 69-game win streak.
“This is a four-game winning streak,” Hurley said. “A lot of other guys are part of those other 65 [wins]. We’ll leave that alone. We never talk about it.”
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