With the state qualifications on the line, a banged-up Charlestown team came back in the second half to defeat their rival.
After trailing by 8 at the half, the Townies (6-9) used their defense to take over the rest of the game, holding East Boston (9-5) to just six field goals for the entire second half to win, 67-48. East Boston was outscored, 40-13, in the second half.
“I told them if you lose tonight, you’re not making the state tournament, seniors this is it for you, so why not just leave it on the court?” Charlestown coach Edwin Cardoso said. “You guys are at home playing a great team but let's play with some heart, with some motors and intensity and they did it.”
Charlestown gave its coach the intensity he asked for by going on a 13-7 run to start the third. Junior guard Taris Wilson added to that run with electrifying dunk that sent the crowd into a frenzy. The dunk was 2 of 14 second half points for Wilson, who had been held to just one basket in the first.
“Picking up those three fouls early in the first half really got to me. I really got to thinking about how I can help my teammates and how I can just come out here and really be aggressive and not pick up any more fouls,” Wilson said.
Junior forward Freddy Oliveira was out with an ankle injury and junior forward Alijah Robinson was on limited time with a fractured hand and Wilson had to play the game with a hurt kidney and back spasms he suffered in Charlestown’s previous matchup against Brighton.
“I just try not to let it get to me. I know my team is playing for a spot in the states at this point, so I just got to go out and play hard in every single game left,” Wilson said.
With the injuries to the team. Cardoso came out with a much different starting lineup than seen in previous contests. Both Wilson and Robinson were on the bench and freshman forward Jovani Lopez Harper and sophomore center Chris Conway were given the start.
Conway was especially impressive, giving the Townies a lift with 16 points. He put the same amount of effort in to his defense on senior center Will March throughout the entire contest.
“I told Chris before the game, your job tonight is to make sure Will March does not get in to that blue paint. Every time a shot goes up, your only responsibility is to box out Will March,” Cardoso said.
While East Boston and Charlestown are known to be rivals, the Jets looked both mentally and physically defeated by the start of the fourth quarter.
“They wanted it more. They took our guys heart. Point blank. There’s nothing else to say about it. They took their heart. No fight in them,” coach Shawn Brown said after his alma mater completed the sweep against his team.
It was really the Charlestown’s defense that pulled them away from East Boston as the game went on. It looked like senior point guard Pat Santos was going to have a big game with 11 points in the first half, but the captain was held scoreless in the second.
“I’ve been looking for this all year round. In game 16, this is the best defense we’ve played all year and if we play that type of defense, we’ll be OK,” Cardoso said. “Yes we’re in tight pressure to win games but if they can bring it like that, we’ll be fine.”
Early in a rivalry game against New Mission on Thursday night, Brighton boys’ basketball coach Hugh Coleman took junior shooting guard Mark Mojica out of the game, not because he was missing 3-pointers, but because he wasn’t taking enough of them.
“Mark struggled shooting the ball, and he got down on himself early,” Coleman said after his No. 13-ranked team came back from a 20-point deficit to win, 57-52, against the No. 10-ranked Titans.
“In the first half he had a nice open look and he hesitated because I guess he missed a couple in a row. I took him out of the game because he didn’t shoot the ball and I told him ‘I got confidence in you to shoot the ball. You have to have confidence in yourself.’
"I said ‘I’m not going to take you out when you don’t make two in a row but you know what? I’m going to take you out when you don’t take the next one because you have to think like a shooter, I’ll hit the next two or three’ and you stay with it.'"
After cutting New Mission’s 20-point lead to 11 points with four minutes left in the game, Mojica nailed a 3-pointer with 1:23 left to make the score 52-48. Then, with 31 seconds left, Mojica hit another 3-pointer to put the Bengals up, 53-52, before a flurry of Brighton steals helped the Bengals hold onto the narrow victory.
“I was missing [in the first half] but the coach said ‘Keep shooting, keep shooting, keep shooting,’” said Mojica, who finished with 10 points. “I did what the coach said and I listened to him. We just worked hard and listened to what coach said.
“It was crazy. It was a good game.”
The post-game celebration, however, was anything but crazy considering the magnitude of the game and the comeback.
It was almost anticlimactic.
That's because after a chippy first meeting between the teams on Dec. 20 at Brighton High, school officials prohibited fans from attending Thursday night’s game at New Mission.
A fight between fans also broke out between Charlestown and Brighton fans on Tuesday night but Boston schools Athletic Director Ken Still said the decision to disallow fans from Thursday night’s game was made before Tuesday’s fight.
“There was a bit of a scuffle in the last game [between New Mission and Brighton], a couple hard fouls and I guess animosity between a couple of the players,” Still said. “So the headmasters got their heads together and said it was best to keep the fans out of the game.”
Brighton coach Hugh Coleman said there was still enough support in the gym to give his guys a boost.
“We got the JV guys, we got some of our people from our school, we got our own bench here,” he said. “So in terms of not having a huge fan base I’ll be honest with you, I know it’s a factor a lot of times, but I think when it really mattered there was enough noise and enough support that gave our guys the kind of confidence we needed at times."
Coleman was still disappointed in his fan base for their behavior in the first meeting in December.
“Sometimes our fans make [bad] decisions, and I’m really upset," he said "That not only hurt them from getting to be at the game but it hurt our team because we can feed off that. I talked to my AD to talk to my principal so we can talk to the kids about being responsible so they can be there to support us and not hurt us. Because they are a part of the team.”
Initially New Mission coach Cory McCarthy said the lack of crowd was not a factor on Thursday.
“It would have been more embarrassing to be honest with you [if there was a crowd],” he said before acknowledging that it could’ve given them a boost down the stretch. “Yeah that’s debatable. I don’t pay attention to crowds. Kids do.”
Brighton (10-3) won the first meeting, 79-68, but the Bengals found themselves in a hole early on Thursday night.
New Mission jumped all over Brighton from the tip, taking a 22-6 lead after the first quarter. Brighton didn’t get on the scoreboard until the 5:35 mark of the quarter on a layup by senior guard Daivon Edwards (team-high 13 points) for an easy layup to make the score 5-2.
But New Mission responded with a 11-0 run to make the score 16-2 with 1:41 left in the quarter.
New Mission went cold in the start of the second quarter but got hot again when senior guard Percio Gomez hit a 3-pointer with 3 minutes left in the half and another one about two minutes later to go up 34-17.
New Mission led, 36-22, at the half and was up, 49-30, after three quarters.
McCarthy called it a total mental breakdown.
“If we stayed within our game plan like we did for 26 minutes we would’ve been in good shape," he said. "My hat's off to Brighton. They played 32 minutes. we played 26 and that’s what it is. Hugh Coleman didn’t walk in with Noah’s Ark and two animals and two women and two other human beings. He didn’t. What he did is he got his kids to play for 32 minutes and our kids played for 26. So he’s Noah I’m Abraham. That’s what it is. That’s all it boils down to.”
McCarthy said it’s virtually impossible for his team to get the No. 1 seed in the city tournament now.
“We’re not going anywhere, we’ll be there in the end,” he said. “I still believe we’re the best team in the state. We lost, so what, but I think we have the best kids.”
Juwan Gooding scored a game-high 21 points for New Mission.
The victory was Brighton’s eighth in a row and it marked the second straight year it beat New Mission twice in the regular season.
“It’s tough to beat a team two times in a row let alone three times in a row,” Coleman said of a potential city championship matchup. “And if everything works out, ideally, it could be four times in the states.”
Standing against a wall that is just feet from the sideline in South Boston’s shoebox of a gymnasium on a recent afternoon, Chris McCarthy was displeased with his daughter’s play against Brighton High, a team that had only two victories on the season.
The Knights ended up winning the game easily but the father of South Boston’s junior point guard has high standards for his daughter, Elaina Wright-McCarthy, when it comes to basketball. After all, Wright-McCarthy’s older sister, Amanda McCarthy, is the starting senior point guard at Division 1 Jacksonville State in Alabama.
So saying they had a sisterly rivalry on the court growing up would be putting it mildly.
“A lot of scraped knees, bruised elbows and banged heads, but that’s the way it was,” he said. “They played. [Wright-McCarthy] battled.”
For Wright-McCarthy, having a sister who plays college basketball is both a “blessing and a curse” — but mostly a blessing.
“We’re sisters, we fight, we argue but at the end of the day we love each other,” she said. “She’s my rock. She pushes me. She’s the reason why I do it.”
The South Boston sisters spent this past summer working out together, practicing ball handling and playing countless games of one-on-one. Wright-McCarthy says she actually took a few games off her big sister, who actually isn’t so big. She’s the same height as little sis (5-foot-5-inches) even though she is listed at a wishful 5-8 on Jacksonville State’s roster.
“Yes, she has beaten me at one-on-one a few times,” McCarthy admitted during a telephone interview on Wednesday night, “but she failed to mention all the times I beat her. It’s alright, it happens. I’m happy she has the confidence to say that. She’s a trip.”
McCarthy was also happy that her little sister committed to working out with her this past summer, putting in at least two hours a day.
“You can’t make somebody else want it, they have to want it themselves,” said McCarthy, who spent three seasons at Savio Prep in East Boston before collecting 21 points, 11 assists and 5 rebounds per game while maintaining a 4.0 GPA during her senior season at Pope John in Everett.
“She has to want to work at it and she finally decided she wants to work at it and she has raw talent that is untouched and only can be further developed. ... I love her dearly, I wish her the best and I’m eager to get back home to watch her senior year and train and help her get wherever she wants to get to [in college basketball], whether that is Division 1, 2 or 3; whatever it is.”
Wright-McCarthy is eager to attend one of her big sister’s college games for the first time during February vacation. She has only watched her sister play for Jacksonville State on television or on the Internet.
The Feb. 23 game against Southeast Missouri will also be senior night at Pete Mathews Coliseum.
“I’m excited,” said Wright-McCarthy, who is averaging 13.5 points and 4 rebounds per game for the Knights. “I’ve seen women’s college games and men’s college games, but I’ve never seen a college game down in Alabama, it’s always been local. It’s going to mean a lot to me because it’s my sister.”
McCarthy’s twin brother, Michael McCarthy, also starred in basketball at Savio and Dexter High four years ago.
Wright-McCarthy attended Gate of Heaven in middle school before it closed and then she attended South Boston Catholic Academy for eighth grade. But when it came time for her to go to high school three years ago, her family could not afford to send another child to private school because of the downturn in the economy.
She attended the now defunct Odyssey High, which was part of the South Boston Educational Complex, her freshman year, and did not have a good experience.
“I was disappointed because I wasn’t learning to my capacity so I was asking teachers for extra work,” the straight-A student said. “I couldn’t go beyond and above like I could at a private school. It’s a lot harder to get noticed because there’s certain things teachers have to teach and at private school they could teach me other things.”
Still a straight-A student at the two-year old Boston Green Academy, which is also housed in the South Boston Education Complex, Wright-McCarthy is much happier in her academic life. But while she said she believes a private school would be better for her basketball development, she is more than happy to be playing for South Boston coach Andrea Higgins, who played for Boston University and graduated in 1993.
“Elaina sees the court very well and she’s a great passer,” Higgins said. “She’s someone who we can go to when we need the last basket. She’s definitely a coachable kid. No matter what I ask her to do she does it. If they are playing a box-and-one on her and I tell her to do nothing but set screens and don’t even go after the ball, she does and she does whatever it takes to win.
“She is [a vocal player] because she’s passionate about basketball. She tries to do whatever she can to help our team and she tries to get our girls to focus in on what they are supposed to be doing. She seems to know what she wants and wants everyone else to fall in with her.”
Higgins and Wright-McCarthy actually used to play against each other in a women’s recreation league at the Tynan Community Center when Elaina was in middle school. Elaina would go to the gym to shoot around and when teams in the league needed an extra player she filled the void.
“I used to be afraid of her and wouldn’t go near her,” Wright-McCarthy said. “It was funny, and then she ended up being my coach.”
Coach and pupil still butt heads occasionally because Higgins often rides her point guard to be more selfish with the ball.
“That’s my thing, I’m good at passing,” Wright-McCarthy said. “But I can shoot. I can score.”
Wright-McCarthy, who is the only white player on South Boston’s team, is also glad to be playing for the Knights because she has made some of her best friends on the team, including co-captain Daitannah Smith.
“Things would certainly be different if I went to a boarding school or private school,” she said. “I would’ve learned, I would’ve been ahead. Basketball wise I think I would be ahead as well.”
But she is not crying ‘woe is me.’
“I didn’t mind coming here,” she said. “I’ve met my best friends and have great teachers now. They care about me and they want me to go above and beyond and I’m learning in all my classes but I would’ve liked to go to a private school. I don’t know which one, not far away, because my sister went to a boarding school in Worcester [for a post-grad year] and I wouldn’t like to have gone there.
“As of now I believe I’m in the best possible situation.”
Exactly three weeks before the city tournament, the Fenway High girls’ basketball team looked like it was in fine form to defend its championship.
Playing without freshman point guard Takora McIntyre, who averages about a dozen points per game, the Panthers defeated Latin Academy, 67-28, on Wednesday night at the Shelburne Community Center.
But defending their Division 4 state title after losing two seniors from last year’s team will be a much more difficult task. While the Panthers (11-2) have rolled the competition in the city league this season, they have split four games against nonleague opponents.
The Panthers beat Lake Region (Maine), 53-33, on Jan. 12 and Notre Dame (Lawrence), 58-27. Their only two loses came to top-ranked Reading, 49-38, on Dec. 30 and to East Side High (N.J.), 56-38, last Saturday.
“Sometimes we do worry because the season is like practice to us because we don’t face that much competition, but when we get to the states we panic a little bit because we know the other teams are just like us,” said junior guard Cadieja Mathews, who scored 13 points for Fenway (11-2). “We basically struggle because we’re playing new competition.”
Mathews said the Panthers didn’t work well as a team against East Side and will try to improve against No. 15 Fontbonne on Friday.
“All we need to do is just work hard as a team,” she said, “just keep our head, don’t get into any arguments with anybody, yell at one another, just try to keep each other up, work hard as a team, run our plays, score, and get back on defense.”
None of those were problems on Wednesday against Latin Academy.
Senior guard Tajanay Veiga-Lee, who scored a game-high 23 points to go with nine assists and four steals, led the Panthers as they took a 12-0 lead.
Latin Academy finally got on the board with 44 seconds left in the opening quarter thanks to an uncontested layup by freshman forward Catherine Coppinger.
But Veiga-Lee quickly hit a 3-pointer at the other end to put her squad up, 15-2, which kicked off an 18-0 run. That spurt was ended by freshman forward Alex Wilson’s layup with 2:49 left in the half.
But once again Veiga-Lee responded with a 3-pointer that put her team up, 33-4.
Latin Academy scored 6 more points in the half — half of which came on junior center Catherine Loney’s 3-point play — before going into the locker room down, 36-10.
Latin Academy coach Emily Hunter-Coleman said she’s not worried that the loss demoralized her team.
“I prep my girls prior to going into certain games,” she said. “My girls, that doesn’t faze them, because I let them know ahead of time. I prep them, I let them know what games, such as CASH, that we’re not going to shoot threes, we’re going to hold the ball a little longer, and then there are games we’re going to have to hustle every play.
“They’ll be ready eventually. [Fenway] is a well-seasoned team, my girls are young so we’re going to go through the trenches, but eventually these are the types of games that are going to teach us how to get better. We’re going to go back and look at some game film and see what we did and try to rectify it.”
The Dragons (8-4) need to split upcoming games against Madison Park and South Boston to have a shot at making the city tournament, according to Hunter-Coleman.
“We’re fighting for that,” she said. “We have a tough game against Madison and a tough game against Southie. Not to say we have everything else in the bag, but those are the two games we have to really win to seal it.
“So, we’re looking forward to it.”
Fenway coach John Rice said his team will looked to improve every aspect of its game regardless of the opponents' skill level.
“Our schedule, it is what it is, so we do things according to our opponents to help us get better,” he said. “We won’t press; we’ll just walk the ball up and work on our offense so we can improve that way. I think our girls play year-round, they play AAU basketball, they are dedicated basketball players. So they get tested time and time again.
“It’s my job to make sure they are prepared properly.”
Brighton High School is seeking to hire a new boys' soccer coach as well as a cheerleading coach.
The school's athletic coordinator, Randolph Abraham, said he is looking to conduct interviews during the first week of March.
All potential candidates should contact Abraham at email@example.com
"We are looking for passionate, hard-working, experienced candidates," Abraham said via e-mail.
Even without a buzzer beater of any sort, senior captain Pat Santos was sure that this win against Madison Park was better than their previous SportsCenter-worthy matchup against the Cardinals.
“We won by more and we didn’t have to come down to the last shot. I played more aggressive and led my team more,” Santos said after East Boston’s 70-63 win Tuesday night.
For an East Boston team down, 22-11, in the first quarter, leadership was a necessity.
Madison Park’s hot start was largely a result of coach Dennis Wilson’s full-court pressure defense disrupting the East Boston backcourt.
“It was a surprise to us,” Jets coach Shawn Brown said. “Last game they did do some, but it was very little, so we prepared for a lot of their half court and [David Stewart] being at the top, so it kind of surprised us when they extended it.”
While Brown didn’t expect Stewart’s defensive position, he did expect the senior captain to be relentless on the offensive rebounds. The center controlled the paint in the first half, scoring 10 of his 18 points. While Stewart usually commands a double team, a majority of the defensive responsibility was on senior center Will March.
“He kicked Will’s butt in the first half and we told him [at halftime], ‘you’re scared. You’re scared and right now he’s taking your lunch money, so what you going to do about it?' ” Brown said.
Those words must have been the motivation March needed. With his team down 43-30, March scored the first four baskets for East Boston to start a 19-8 run. Stewart was held to just 2 points during the stretch.
“He played very aggressive today,” Santos said. “First half he came off slow, but second half he definitely picked up.”
While he had high praise for his teammate, it was Santos’s aggressiveness that gave East Boston the lead. Down 2 points with less than two minutes to go in the third, Santos scored 7 of his 16 points in a row to give his team the lead. From there, East Boston never looked back.
“He’s definitely our leader. He’s a feisty young man, but I think we have to lean on Pat. Especially with our younger guards,” Brown said. “So for Pat it’s great to have that extension.”
East Boston’s turnaround between halves came about from the Jets taking their turn at great full-court pressure defense. They were able to force multiple Madison Park turnovers, which turned in to easy transition buckets.
“First half we played aggressive, a lot of composure, we didn’t let the press affect us. We broke the press with composure, good passes and execution and attacking the basket,” Wilson said. “Second half was a different half. We lost our composure, we panicked, we started traveling, throwing the ball away and we fell apart.”
It’s never easy to come back from a halftime deficit and East Boston’s rally left Brown a proud coach.
“I told them at halftime that it’s not about X's and O’s. There’s nothing I can draw up. Right now it’s about all heart and desire. You guys got to go out and earn it and that’s what they did,” Brown said.
The following is a letter to the editor from Dr. Cheri Blauwet -- a clinical fellow at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, two-time winner of the Boston Marathon's wheelchair division, seven-time Paralympic medalist and member of the International Paralympic Committee Medical Commission -- and Anjali Forber-Pratt, two-time Paralympic Medalist, member, US Paralympic track and field team and Paul G. Hearne Leadership Award Recipient from the American Association of Persons with Disabilities, in response to a blog post from last Friday titled, "Boston schools ready for federal mandate to include disabled athletes."
To the Editor:
We read with great interest “Boston schools ready for federal mandate to include disabled athletes” published in response to the US Department of Education Guidance regarding the inclusion of athletes with disabilities into mainstream sporting activities at the K-12 level. Given our experiences as Paralympic athletes representing the United States on the world’s stage, as well as professionals engaged in the growth of sport opportunity for youth, we felt compelled to describe the importance of this federal guidance as it relates to ensuring the basic rights of youth with disabilities in this country. Additionally, there were misconceptions perpetuated in the aforementioned article that take away from the true impact of the Guidance issued last Friday, Jan. 25.
Growing up in rural Iowa (Dr. Blauwet) and Natick (Dr. Forber-Pratt), we have both experienced the importance of introducing youth with disabilities to the world of sports from a young age. For Dr. Blauwet, a small spark of talent was discovered on her high school track. Dr. Forber-Pratt’s interest was piqued as a childhood spectator in Natick watching the wheelchair racers in the Boston Marathon. In both instances, world-class athletic careers were launched, including the opportunity to travel and show others the potential we held within ourselves.
Only a few years earlier, our peers, just as talented, however growing up in a time prior to the development of the disability rights movement, would have been denied this opportunity simply on the basis of a disability such as being visually impaired, hearing impaired, an amputee, or – like us – wheelchair users.
In the United States, parents want their kids to play sports for what seem to be obvious reasons. Sports taught us humility, self-confidence, teamwork, and innumerable other skills that transferred into successes in our day-to-day lives. Youth with disabilities cannot be denied this opportunity. At a time when our society is plagued with child obesity and the consequences of a sedentary lifestyle, we cannot turn our backs on enabling opportunities for physical fitness and exercise for all – regardless of whether or not a specific activity may require “reasonable accommodation.” For people with disabilities, this Guidance is our Title IX, and we will work fervently to see its implementation.
Athletes who utilize wheelchairs are not “bound” by their disabilities. On the contrary, our disabilities have empowered us to become strong and, in many cases, influential leaders. Secondly, the issues regarding safety need not be an excuse to exclude students with disabilities from physical education or extra curricular sports. While school safety is of the utmost importance, viewing assistive devices such as a wheelchair, a walker, or a prosthetic leg as a “concern” is short-sighted and likely akin to the excuses that were once made to prevent the participation of women and girls in sport. This mandate is about opportunity and inclusion. Instead of making excuses, we should be paving the way for school administrators, coaches and educators to enthusiastically consider “reasonable accommodations” as tools to promote inclusion and foster the potential of students with disabilities.
Cheri Blauwet, M.D.
Clinical Fellow, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital
Two-time winner of the Boston Marathon, Wheelchair Division
Seven-time Paralympic Medalist (Sydney ’00, Athens '04)
Member, International Paralympic Committee Medical Commission
Anjali Forber-Pratt, Ph.D.
Two-time Paralympic Medalist (Beijing ‘08)
Member, US Paralympic track and field team (London 2012)
Paul G. Hearne Leadership Award Recipient from the American Association of Persons with Disabilities (2013)
Although she has been living, coaching, and teaching in Miami for the last 27 years, when Susan Summons reminisces about her basketball exploits at Burke High, in the Boston Neighborhood Basketball League, at Roxbury Community College, and for the New England Gulls, she makes it sound as though she were lacing up her sneakers just yesterday.
“I’m a Beantown baby, what can I say?” Summons said during a telephone interview Monday.
In real time, however, the Miami Dade College women’s basketball coach has spent the last 27 years taking her Lady Sharks to 22 Region 8 championship tournaments while maintaining a 93 percent graduation rate among her players.
And on Jan. 7, the Roxbury native was selected to be enshrined in her fourth Hall of Fame in just five years: the NJCAA Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
She will be inducted alongside her former coach at Roxbury Community College and current school committee member, Alfreda Harris, during an awards ceremony July 26 at Northwest State College in Niceville, Fla.
“It’s really huge when you think about a kid who grew up in Roxbury, who dreamed big,” she said. “I always dreamed big while I was in Roxbury, I never focused on the gangs and the street violence around me and I tried not to let it get the best of me.
“Fortunately, I had basketball in my life and basketball has taken me around the world.”
After helping the Bulldogs win back-to-back city championships, Summons graduated from the Burke in 1975.
“We wore special uniforms, blue uniforms, which had pleats,” said Summons, who was also a six-time BNBL MVP. “It looked like a skirt but really underneath, if you didn’t know, it had bloomers. Isn’t that crazy, when you think about the uniforms players wear now, compared to what we wore then?”
Basketball wasn’t the only experience at the Burke that left an indelible mark. Summons said she also learned how to speak Spanish from a teacher named Mr. Cameron.
“Imagine, I’m living in Miami so I’m speaking Spanish now,” she said. “So thanks, Mr. Cameron, because I wasn’t sure when I would need it, but it certainly came in handy.”
Summons, who went to school during the infamous court-ordered desegregation in Boston, also credited a history teacher and assistant basketball coach named Judith Baker for teaching her about the city’s history.
“She was very instrumental in helping me learn about the history of the city of Boston and the impact history has on who you are and where you are going and how you are going to get there,” Summons said. “In order to understand where you are going, you have to know where you come from.”
During that time, she was one of the first Boston 350 Jubilee Award recipients under then-Mayor Kevin White.
But with few opportunities for female athletes after high school, Summons enlisted in the Army. She was granted an early honorable discharge after serving three years because she had an opportunity to play for the newly created women’s basketball team at Roxbury Community College, coached by Harris.
After leading RCC to back-to-back national championship appearances in 1977 and 1978, she went to play basketball at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas, where she set an NCAA record by netting 43 points in one contest.
Summons was then the first African-American woman and first woman from Boston to be drafted in the country’s first women’s professional basketball league, the Women’s Professional Basketball League, by the New Jersey Gems before she was traded to her hometown team, the New England Gulls.
The league folded in 1981, a year after she joined, but Summons considers herself a pioneer who paved the way for today’s women’s league, the WNBA.
“There is a lot of history there, a lot of pioneers,” she said. “I was one of the first pioneers for girls' and women’s sports before girls' and women’s sports were huge. So it really behooves me and it really humbles me to know I was a pioneer to help open the doors for a lot of these players who are in college and are drafted and are getting media coverage.”
With no league to play in, Summons took a job as a police officer for the Boston Housing Authority. On weekends, she attended classes at the University of New Hampshire and eventually earned a degree in human services and counseling.
After graduating, she was offered a job teaching and coaching at Roxbury Community College, where she led the team to a state championship in the 1987-88 season during her three-year tenure.
Shortly thereafter, she took her current post at Miami Dade College, and her first team featured two players from the Burke: Ramona Edwards and Linda Collins.
“That’s part of the journey,” she said. “The journey evolves.”
Summons said she shares her election to the NJCAA Hall of Fame with people who helped her along in her journey.
“That’s a long leap [from Roxbury to the NJCAA Hall of Fame] so I have to really say this award and this honor is shared with all the kids in Roxbury, all the kids at the Shelbourne Center who aspire to be great and achieve their drams,” she said. “It’s shared with all kids at the Jeremiah E. Burke High School and all the kids in the BNBL league.”
Everyone in the city-league knows Pat Santos' name. After his game winning full-court buzzer beater against Madison Park landed him the No. 1 spot on SportsCenter’s Top 10, he was practically known on a national level.
However, time does not stop for anyone and the season must go on. The rematch between East Boston and Madison Park is this Tuesday and coach Shawn Brown is expecting another intense contest.
“Expect a close game out of all teams that compete in this division,” Brown said. “You don’t expect any night to be a night off.”
While the matchup was one of the more entertaining games for fans this season, Brown was more concerned about the areas of which his team played poorly.
“If we do the things we didn’t do well, that being rebounding, making free throws and limiting turn overs, we should be alright,” Brown said. “They get after it on the offensive rebounds so all five of our guys will need to rebound.”
Much of the rebounding concern when facing Madison Park has to do with their big frontcourt, led of course by senior center David Stewart.
“He was relentless on the boards the last time we faced them,” Brown said. “He’s definitely a focus with his length and size.”
Even the regarded hero of the game knew that his team could’ve played better.
“The first time we played Madison, we played terrible,” Santos said.
The senior captain agreed with this coach in that they’ll need to rebound and play better defense and added that they’ll also need to have better transition game.
While he admitted his team didn’t play their best, any play that can get national recognition is worth being proud of.
Santos described walking through the hallways in school the next day, seeing multiple teachers playing the replay of the shot in early morning classes while classmates that he didn’t even know came up to him asking how he did it.
“That shot was big for me because everyone knew my name,” Santos said. “But that wasn’t the biggest thing because that was just a buzzer-beater, it’s wasn’t like I had a real good game. I still got to play better than that.”
Santos only finished the game with only 4 points. However, three of those points were important enough to have students still coming up to him to this day asking about the play, even though Santos admits the hype has died down since that game on Dec. 18.
This hasn’t bothered the captain or any of his teammates though. It has fitted right into the motto that their coach has preached to them throughout the season.
“Me and my team have a motto, ‘L.I.G.’ That means ‘let it go.' " Santos said. “You celebrate for one night and after, you got to go back and get level-headed [and] get ready for the next game or next practice.”
Santos has been forced to “let it go” given that after the win against Madison Park, two of his teammates were hit with injuries and his role as a leader drastically increased.
“I got to be the leader of my team. I got to keep everybody focused, we got a lot of young players on this team right now and with the injuries they all got to step up so I got to help them a lot,” Santos said.
Brown agreed that his captain has been a great model to the young players on the team. He added that the motto works for good or bad, wins or losses, game-winners or turnovers. Either way his team must never linger on anything in the past.
“When you take a shower after the game, everything flushes down the drain,” Brown said. “If you’re going to talk about a great model of L.I.G., it’s Pat.”
Everyone’s been waiting for this rematch.
It will be the first time Madison Park and East Boston meet since Pat Santos’ nationally recognized full-court buzzer beater sent coach Dennis Wilson’s team home with a loss.
However, this will be much more than just a statement game. With only three weeks left until cities, every game is a little bit more important for two teams trying to climb in the north division standings.
East Boston (7-4) at Charlestown (5-8), Thursday, 7 p.m.:
East Boston’s mental toughness will be tested this week.
After a tough game against Madison Park, Eastie will have to bring their best ball against a Charlestown team that is desperately trying to improve in the win column.
The Townies have only won five of their last seven games, however, they are coming off a close win against Fitchburg, 56-54.
Burke (4-6) at CASH (1-10), Friday, 4 p.m.:
In a game between two struggling teams, a division win is always huge.
Burke has the chance to start a winning streak with their last win coming against Fenway 62-50.
For CASH, it’s the opportunity to break a losing streak. Their last win was on Jan. 11.
With three weeks to go before tournament time, these three games may be worth checking out.
West Roxbury at O’Bryant, 5:30 p.m., Wednesday:
Undefeated in league play, O'Bryant continues to sharpen its claws for a return to the city tournament at the end of February.
But West Roxbury is also playing well with only two loses on the season. West Roxbury will also be looking to avenge a 70-35 home loss to the Tigers on Dec. 19.
Latin Academy at Fenway, 6 p.m., Wednesday:
Latin Academy is on a two-game win streak, but that includes a 58-41 victory against last-place East Boston whom the Dragons beat 69-16 in the first game of the season.
Wednesday’s game will be a true test of Latin Academy’s mettle. The Dragons lost to Fenway at home 71-25 on Dec. 18.
Fenway will be looking to get back in the 'W' column after its six-game winning streak was dashed by East Side High (N.J.) in a 56-38 loss on Saturday.
Madison Park at Latin Academy, 5:30 p.m., Friday:
The last meeting between these two teams was a wild one and MP will be looking for revenge on the road.
Despite missing some key free throws in the final 40 seconds of the game, Latin Academy managed to make some key free throws to hold on for a 43-40 victory at Madison Park on Dec. 21.
With the game tied at 40, Latin Academy's Catherine Loney missed a pair of free throws with 36 seconds left. But Abigail Ohemeng got the rebound, was fouled and split the pair to put the Dragons up a point before Madison Park missed its own pair of foul shots on the other end.
About 10 seconds later, Loney redeemed herself at the foul line by hitting two foul shots with a second left.
New Mission’s full-court pressure was just too fast and disciplined on Friday.
Charlestown’s (4-8) guards could barely get past half court without getting swarmed by New Mission's defense, which propelled the Titans (8-3) to an 83-57 win.
“In high school, nobody [else] really runs a man press. We run a pretty strong man press. We got a lot of length on the backside, force people to the sideline, make people make perfect passes,” said coach Cory McCarthy. “It’s a luxury to have and we’re just taking advantage of a luxury.”
One of those guards wreaking havoc in the Charlestown backcourt was junior guard Kordell Harris. Harris, as well as junior guard Shaquan Murray, was able to come up with plenty of steals.
“Believe it or not, that was the game plan,” Murray said. “To play defense, pressure and attack. That’s how we were able to get turnovers and fast-break layups and shots.”
Coach Edson Cardoso recognized his guards were disturbed by the full-court pressure.
“It did give us some problems. I thought we did a better job against it in the beginning, but then got lackadaisical,” Cardoso said.
Murray also led the way for New Mission with 19 points, including three 3-pointers. Joining him in the offensive onslaught was junior forward Fred Rivers, who scored 16 points.
Rivers had the tall task of defending Charlestown’s Freddy Oliveria, who was held to 9 points. The two are familiar with each other after playing on the same team in offseason tournaments.
“He’s a great player, always brings the same intensity,” Rivers said.
McCarthy was also very high on Rivers’s activity, both offensively and defensively.
Practically every time Charlestown looked like they were going to make a run, Rivers either got a smooth jump shot to go or got himself to the free throw line.
“He’s one of the best players nobody knows,” McCarthy said. “I thought we showed we were the better team. We played better team ball.”
Half of Rivers 16 points came from the stripe.
“Free throws are very key to the game. For hours and hours your just shooting free throws and it’s time to show it in a game,” Rivers said.
With the score, 62-43, at the beginning of the fourth, Charlestown looked like it had one last run left. Senior forward Alijah Robinson, who led Charlestown with 22 points, got it started with a 3-pointer. Robinson came up with a steal on the very next play, resulting in transition dunk.
Both teams then traded free throws before Rivers and Murray hit back-to-back baskets for New Mission. Sophomore guard Juwan Gooding hit two free throws on the very next play off a New Mission steal.
Charlestown responded with a basket from junior guard Ryan Gunter. However, it led to Gooding making the most impressive shot of the night.
With the clock winding down, Gooding hit a step-back 3-pointer from the right side of the court, extending the New Mission lead to 25.
“He’s a good shooter, he can do that whenever he really feels like it,” Rivers said. “That’s my guy. I really appreciate him, glad he transferred.”
Gooding, who transferred from Milton, was able to provide a lift off the bench with 16 points.
“It’s a good test of character. Every once in awhile we got to find out who’s really for the team and he’s really for the team,” McCarthy said.
Despite the big win, McCarthy still does not think his first-place team is the best team in the city league.
“We lost to Brighton and until we beat Brighton, they’re the best team,” McCarthy said.
Zolan Kanno-Youngs covers Boston Public school athletics. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @KannoYoungs.
One of Brian Vaughan’s first orders of business as the new head football coach at Boston English High will be to print up T-shirts that read “Beat Latin.”
“I think small things like that just build pride in kids,” Vaughan said of the T-shirts, a reference to English's Thanksgiving rival.
The coach at Pope John in Everett for the last four coach, who was hired at Boston English on Tuesday, was speaking shortly after meeting with his new players for the first time.
“When kids think they are going to achieve some sort of goal they take more pride in it,” he added.
Named the Boston Globe’s Division 3 Player of the Year in 1990, the former Lynn English running back went on to play for Northeastern University. One of his assistant coaches at Northeastern was Tom Lamb, the legendary coach of Doug Flutie at Natick High who has been an assistant at Boston English for the last two seasons.
Lamb headed up the search for English’s new coach after the school’s former coach Chris Boswell was released from the position last month. Lamb said 35 coaches applied for the position and about eight or 9 were interviewed for the job.
“He’s a great kid, very special kid, very determined,” Lamb said of Vaughan. “He was also a very good player, but very special kid. So when he was interested in the job we talked to Pope John and talked to some different people and they all had glowing things to say about him. He’s a great person and also a great coach. And he runs an exciting offense and defense too so that’s another plus that the kids are excited about. We’re all excited.”
The 39-year-old, who served seven seasons as an assistant coach at Lynn English from 2000 to 2008, said his relationship with Lamb will help ease his transition into the new job.
“That’s huge, coach lamb gave me an opportunity to play college football,” he said. “If you look at me, I’m not that big of a guy, so a lot of college recruiters, even though I was successful in high school, with my height, people backed off a little bit. I’m 5-5, what can I say. Coach Lamb and Coach Barry Gallup at Northeastern gave me the opportunity to play college football and I’ll always owe him for that.
“Having him on the staff is excellent because everybody knows Coach Lamb is a legend. He’s going to make me a better coach, make my coaching staff a better coaching staff. He’s definitely going to make the kids better football players, actually better student athletes. I think it’s huge because he’s already given me information on kids he’s build relationships with. That’s a huge attribute and that gives me one leg up in that area.”
Vaughan, who teaches history and physical education at Pope John, is also familiar with Boston English because he worked in the schools special education department about three years ago. He said it’s been his dream to coach in a Boston public school.
“I did four years there, I loved Pope John, I loved the community there, I loved the staff there,” he said. “It was just one of those things, watching a lot of high school football, I always said I would love the opportunity to coach in Boston public. I just think there’s so much talent here and if you could try to do the things that you wanted to do and implement them in one of the schools, I think you could do something.
“I know it’s going to be challenging. I know it’s going to be hard but it’s worth it. I think it’s worth it if you can come here and some type of success, even if that success is changing the attitude of the kids.”
English finished this past season 3-7 but the team did record its first non-forfeit victory since 2009, a 14-6 win against New Mission.
After starting the season with 24 players, the injury plague squad only had 17 players on Thanksgiving Day against Latin, a game English lost 44-15.
About 16 students attended Friday afternoon’s meeting with Vaughan, who said a few more kids told him they couldn’t make it.
“He’s a good coach, I can tell he’s a good coach and he’s going to help to make us better,” junior wide receiver Gabriel Pacheco said after the meeting. “I can’t wait to start practicing with him.”
Pacheco was particularly close with Boswell and often helped the old coach scout games.
“For me it’s hard, I have to move on, life is never fair,” Pacheco said of Boswell, who coached three seasons at English. “It was hard for me when I heard the news.”
While 16 players might seem like a small amount of players to attend a first meeting with a new coach, Vaughan said only six players showed up for his first meeting at Pope John four years ago.
That team ended up winning 9 games but had to forfeit three or four of those games because they used an ineligible player.
The next two seasons they went 8-3 and made the playoffs. Last season Pope John finished 5-6.
Despite having success at Pope John with his no-huddle spread offense, Vaughan ultimately couldn’t pass up the opportunity to coach the first public high school in the United States. He’s also looking forward to coaching against the first public school in the country in the nation’s longest consecutive high school football rivalry.
But beating Latin on Thanksgiving Day will take more than just printing up a bunch of T-shirts. English has only beat Latin once since 1981 and has lost the last 14 meetings between the two schools.
“It’s going to be tough,” he said. “I’ll tell you right now it’s going to be an uphill battle. They do a good job over there. We got our hands full. That’s the challenge of coaching. I don’t want an easy coaching job. I want to be in a place where it’s going to be challenging. It will make you a better coach.”
As the U.S. Education Department announced Friday morning that schools must include students with disabilities in interscholastic sports programs or provide equal alternatives, Boston schools Athletic Director Ken Still said his department already allows disabled athletes to participate in mainstream sports.
“If you are able to get up there and play and make a team and the nurse and medical staff says you’re safe or fine to do so we’ll play you, we’re game,” Still said during a telephone interview this morning.
Viewed by many as the most important civil rights milestone in school sports since Title IX expanded opportunities for women, the new directive says schools must make "reasonable modifications" for disabled students to play with able-bodied athletes or offer separate programs for disabled athletes.
Still said there have been a handful of disabled athletes to play with able-bodied athletes during his tenure, including an athlete with one eye, an athlete with one arm and, most recently, a wheelchair-bound athlete who played for the Orchard Gardens girls' volleyball team this past fall.
“We never denied it,” he said. “If you are in school and want to play and want to go out for a team we say ‘Let’s do it’ and we’ll look at all the pieces that fit and the pieces that don’t fit."
Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Seth Galanter of the Department of Education said his office posted a 13-page set of guidelines on their website on Friday to help school districts comply with their legal obligations.
Galanter said in 2010 the federal government found that schools needed additional guidance about what existing federal civil rights laws required.
"This guidance that we're issuing today clarifies the school's existing responsibilities under section 504 which prohibits disability discrimination," Galanter said during a teleconference on Friday morning. "The 13-page guidance walks through the law and provides specific examples of what is and what is not required of the schools under established principles.
"We think this specific specification and clarification will helps schools and parents understand the rights and obligations."
Galanter said the focus of the new guidelines are to make sure more disabled athletes can participate on mainstream teams with "reasonable modifications" that do not fundamentally alter the nature of the sports' rules or competitive nature.
To do this, he said, schools have to gauge each individual student's abilities separately and cannot not make generalizations based on assumptions or prejudices.
"One student with a particular disability might not be able to play a certain type of sport or may not do well under pressure but another student with the same disability may be able to play that sport and thrive," he said. "Schools must look to the ability of kids not their disabilities."
An examples of a modification that does not alter the sport are to provide a flashing light to a deaf track athlete who can't hear the starter pistol.
If "reasonable modifications" can't be met in an existing program, Galanter said "we’re recommending that school districts create additional opportunities from those programs even if they are separate and different to others.”
Boston schools organize an annual Special Olympics for students and Horace Mann School for the Deaf has girls and boys varsity basketball league funded by the district’s athletic department.
The new clarification of the rules, however, could mean more widespread accommodations will be made for disabled athletes. And for a cash-strapped district like Boston that struggle to fund existing athletic programs as it is, adding new teams for disabled athletes could be difficult.
For one, Still said they would likely have to be district-wide teams since each school isn't likely to have enough disabled athletes to field their own teams. Second, Still said, his office is understaffed as it is and would have a hard time maintaining new teams and programs.
But Galanter said modifications and accommodations are generally inexpensive.
"It might be the cost of a laser pointer for example," he said. "And they can be achieved without altering the nature of the game or the competition at all."
Still is also concerned about safety. And not just the safety of the disabled athletes. For example, in the case of the wheelchair-bound volleyball player, her chair had to be padded in order not to injury other players.
“I think that’s the biggest piece to all of it,” he said. “If a youngster doesn’t have the ability to stand or to ski or whatever the sport may be, we’ll have to take a strong look at that.”
Galanter also made it clear that schools do not have to allow disabled athletes to play on a team just because they are disabled.
"This guidance is about expanding opportunity and inclusion, it’s not about changing the nature of an athletic activity," he said. "That is, if a school has a competitive and selective sports program the student with the disability does not automatically get on the team or get to play just because they have some minimal set of skills. In those cases schools may continue to select the best players as they define it as long as they are not discriminating against kids because of their disability."
The Boston Scholar Athletes program will honor its 2012 Boston All-City football team at Boston College next month.
The 28-member team will be honored during a banquet from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Feb. 7 at Boston College’s Murray Room.
Members of the All-City team can bring their coach and parents to the banquet and must wear business professional attire, including a shirt and tie.
RSVP’s are due by Jan. 30. To RSVP email Brad Schoonmaker at email@example.com or call him at 617-517-4526.
The following are the members of the 2012 All-City team:
Latin Academy: Brendan Harriette, Alex Guerrier, Kyle Dance; Brighton: Princewill Unaegbu, Ricardo Edwards, Jean Fanfan; Burke: Demetrius Richards, Sedeeq Rheddick; Charlestown: Ibrahima Diallo; Dorchester: Jeffrey Burton-Rhodes, Darrius Patterson, Robinson Cyprien; East Boston: Marcellus Etienne, Juan Elias Bonilla; Boston English: Jordan Carter; Madison Park: Michael Alexander, Kelvin Jones, Alexis Santiago, David Stewart; New Mission: Steven Thomas, Darien Amado; O'Bryant: Joseph Farrell, Tobi Fashemi, Christian Ransom; South Boston: Sean Hunter, Pannel Davis, Kingsley O'koye; West Roxbury: Michael Obianigwe.
The All-City cheerleading team will be honored during a banquet from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Feb. 5 in the Suffolk Construction Main Lobby (65 Allerton St.).
Participants should RSVP to Schoonmaker by Jan. 29.
The following are the members of the All-City cheerleading team:
Brighton: Crystal Figueroa, Jessica Villar; Burke Alexandra Tubman, Renee Pierre; Charlestown: Shijeana Davis, Medhanit Tedasse; Dorchester: Jayuanna Harris, Lorenzo Harper; East Boston: Keila Giuliano, Danielle DiPerri; Boston English: Nicole Francis, Kani Givens; Madison Park: Georgina Williams, Paris Thomas; New Mission: Esther Nkwah, Tania Duncan; O’Bryant: Andrenia Nieves, MaKayla Harris; South Boston: Temmerrah Williams, Kym Wilkerson; West Roxbury: Elvis Ortiz, Tanazha Kinsey.
After a four-game losing streak, Charlestown got the confidence-booster it needed on Wednesday night.
The Townies (4-7) held CASH (1-9) to single-digit scoring in all but one quarter, propelling them to a 95-25 win.
“We’re not having a great season but I just want them to get better,” Charlestown coach Edson Cardoso said. “We still have a chance to maybe make the state tournament but I just want them to get better and better.”
With four players scoring in double figures, improvement was definitely shown in this Charlestown win. Many would expect one of those players to be junior Freddy Oliveira. However, the forward had just 8 points as a result of sitting for most of the second half.
Oliveira was quick to talk about the impact a game like this can have on his teammates who may not have seen a lot of playing time.
“If our bench can score that can help us out a lot, so when starters come out then we can get some scoring off the bench. When we get tired we’re going to need scoring from everywhere,” Oliveria said.
One of the bench players who caught the eye of Cardoso was forward Chris Conway. The sophomore took advantage of the increased playing time, scoring 14 points.
“I hope that when the bench guys get some playing time they take advantage of it, and when it comes to some close situations we can put them in there,” Cardoso said.
One bright spot for CASH was Zalido Pina, who had 8 points, including two 3-pointers. The guard is only a freshman, so CASH has some young talent with which to work in the future.
The win couldn’t have come at a better time for Charlestown, which hadn’t won since Jan. 9. And it should help give the Townies some momentum as they take on league-leading New Mission on Friday.
Cardoso said complacency would not be tolerated.
“We have a hard two-hour practice tomorrow, no pity on the kids," Cardoso said. "New Mission is a very good team, very well-coached. [Cory McCarthy’s] done a great job with his kids, so we’re going to go in to New Mission and just try and compete."
After a slow start against Brighton on Wednesday afternoon, South Boston pulled out a 66-34 home victory.
“We tend to do that, we tend to play to the opponents' level,” South Boston coach Andrea Higgins said after her team improved to 9-2. “We have been trying to make sure that we play our game because we know we’re going to the tournament and we don’t know who we are going to be facing. We always have to make sure we are playing our game.”
Brighton (2-9) scored the first 3 points before South Boston finally scored its first basket with 5:15 left in the opening quarter to tie the score at 3-3. The Knights' 3-pointer was scored by junior forward Daitannah Smith, who finished with a team-high 15 points.
The teams traded baskets to make the score 5-5 before the Knights busted open a 13-0 run to take a 18-5 lead after one quarter. South Boston took a 34-18 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Higgins said she was pleased that her team eventually picked up the pace.
“You have to call a timeout and remind them because even if you tell them at the beginning of the game it’s tough," she said. "But they did [pick it up], they were more focused on playing our game and working.”
South Boston freshman guard Jocelyn Harris and her teammate, sophomore forward Destinee Morris, each contributed 12 points. Junior guard Elaine Wright-McCarthy had 9 points for South Boston.
The Knights sit in second place in the North Division behind Fenway, the only team they have lost to this season.
A city championship would almost certainly have to go through the Panthers.
“It’s always hard to beat a team three times in one season, that’s what they say, so we’ll see what we can do,” said Higgins, who added that she tries to prevent her team from thinking about the city tournament.
But after going 8-9 last year and 5-12 the previous season, it’s hard not to think about going to cities.
“It would mean the world,” Smith said.
Brighton was led by senior forward Amy Bernardez, who had a team-high 15 points before she injured her ankle in the final moments of the third quarter.
“She should be fine,” Brighton coach John Lilly said. “She’s a tough kid and she’s been through a lot of minor injuries in the past and she sucks it up and keeps playing. She has been our best all-around player all season and that’s what I expect from her.”
Lilly said his team has gotten better this season.
“We’re still an inexperienced team, learning as we go,” he said. “When teams throw different looks at us we have to adjust. This is a learning process. The girls have played a lot better the second time around against everybody, and we expect to improve.”
Last summer, Krystal Edwards spent three months working with at-risk youth on Cape Cod as part of a program called Crossroads for Kids.
As profound of an experience as it was, the summer also showed the Madison Park senior that she could live apart from her twin sister, Amber, who also has shined on the hardwood for the Cardinals the last four seasons in both varsity volleyball and varsity basketball.
Krystal, who carries a 3.85 grade-point average and averages 21 points per game, will attend Union College in Schenectady, N.Y., in the fall on a Posse scholarship, and plans to play basketball there, as well.
Amber, who has a 3.55 GPA and averages 18 points per game, hopes to get an acceptance letter to Rochester Institute of Technology any day.
The upstate New York schools are only three hours apart, but that might as well be across the country for the chatty Roxbury teens, who bubble with enthusiasm and spend their free time watching basketball on TV and drawing up plays.
“The most difficult part will be the times that I’m down, it will be difficult to adapt to a whole new atmosphere,” Krystal said. “I’m going to look to my sister to lean on but she’s not going to always be there. I have to find friends and be able to communicate and have that companionship with somebody else. Not to replace her spot but just to lean on [someone else].”
Amber, who acknowledged that she can sometimes be jealous of her sister, took the summer away from Krystal much harder than her sister did.
“Basically her going to camp, it was kind of different,” said Amber, who is two minutes older. “I had a breakdown and I started crying but at the end of the day I started to really find myself and I kept myself together [even though] I’m not sociable like she is. She’s very sociable.”
The prospect of playing against each other in college, however, might be a consolation to help bridge the distance. Union College and Rochester Institute of Technology both play in the Liberty League, and the 18-year-olds are so competitive that they even argue about who is more responsible.
“I can’t wait for that day because I’m going to be like, ‘Krystal, what you got? Did you bring your game?’ ” Amber said.
Krystal added, “It’s going to be just straight on, one on one, man vs. man because I know how my sister plays. It’s going to be exciting just like when we were younger. We always played on different teams because we wanted to see who was better. Everyone is like, ‘Who's better?’ But we play different positions so you can’t really compare both of us together.”
Amber, a 5-foot-6-inch point guard who also plays shooting guard, and Krystal, a 5-6 shooting guard who also plays in the low post, learned how to play basketball by battling their two older brothers a decade ago in their backyard and at the park.
“We used to get dunked on all the time,” Amber said, “and we were like ‘You know what, this is enough, we have to get better,’ so we got better and that was our motivation.”
By middle school, the twins started coming into their own on the court. Initially, Krystal played for Edwards Middle School and Amber decided not to play for her school, Dearborn, so she could focus on academics. Eventually, Amber transferred to Edwards and the twins played together.
They both chose Madison Park because of its reputation for athletics, and quickly became a dynamic duo in volleyball and basketball. Krystal also plays softball and Amber runs outdoor track.
“I just give her the look and … she’ll just nod to me,” Amber said. “It’s like that intellectual silence. When she sees my face she’ll be like, ‘OK, I know what to do’ or I’ll just give her a signal and she’ll know what to do.”
They also hone their game by playing with an all-girls team at their local park against all- boys teams.
“When they see us they are like, ‘Oh, shoot,’ ” Amber said. “They call us the Dream Team, it’s really cool.”
The twins led the team on an improbable run to the city tournament last year but lost in the first round. The Cardinals also lost in the first round of the volleyball city tournament the last two years.
This year, they are 4-6 and looking to make a strong push to get back to the city tournament.
"The fact that we made it there was a miracle. They carry this team, they are the heart of this team,” Madison Park coach Carla Hands said. “We all work together but they are the primary ones that take care of us.
“[Getting back to the city tournament] would be phenomenal, that would be their dream come true.”
And losing the twins will be a bit of a nightmare for Hands.
“It will be tough to lose them,” she said. “I haven’t run into others like them. They are phenomenal athletes, phenomenal kids in the classroom, and phenomenal people. There’s nothing you can say bad about these kids. They work hard in every aspect of their lives and I’m so proud of them.”
Being separated next fall will also be difficult for the twins, who say they will talk plenty via text message and Skype, but only after they finish their homework, of course.
“I see her all the time and its like, ‘Hey, Krystal,’ we talk a lot, we communicate a lot,” Amber said. “She’s like my best friend, partner in crime, we stick together, work hard together.
“So when I go to college it’s going to be very different.”
Freshman Ernie Chatman led Boston English (8-5) to an 81-77 home win over Madison Park (3-6) on Tuesday night. The point guard was all over the court whether it was blocking a fast break layup or picking apart the full court press with his cross over. His performance even got him some unexpected fans.
“Every time I play, [I tell him] ‘nobody can guard you,’ and nobody can. To me, he’s one of the best point guards in the state. Nobody can guard him at all,” said junior teammate Shaun Miller.
The freshman even has the only senior on Boston English impressed.
“I’m his biggest fan,” said center Braxton Gulleymabry.
Miller added that his backcourt mate always knows where he is on the floor, playing a large part in his 17-point night.
Nine of those points came in the first quarter after Madison Park’s full court press shut down the English offense as the Cardinals went on an 8-2 run. Boston English coach Barry Robinson took a timeout to stop the momentum.
“We just basically told them, let's focus, because this is a big game for us. We’re playing at home, Madison Park is a really, really good team and we've got to play our game,” Robinson said.
The Blue and Blue responded immediately, going on a 10-2 run in less than two minutes.
“They started breaking [the press] and getting easy layups,” said Madison Park coach Dennis Wilson. “They’re a quick, scrappy, little team and once they figured out what was happening, now you know it wasn’t working no more. You don’t want greyhounds to get off in a greyhound pace.”
The Madison Park half court defense couldn’t stop Boston English, with Chatman and Miller combining for 16 second-quarter points. Wilson had a simple reaction for the lack of defense.
“My guys played terrible. Their guys outplayed my guys. They took care of the ball, they made shots,” Wilson said. “We turned the ball over. Unforced turnovers. How you going to have unforced turnovers? That means you’re rattled, you’re nervous, but we’re young.”
It didn’t help Madison Park that its senior captain, David Stewart, was in foul trouble throughout the third quarter.
“That was the main goal, get him in to foul trouble,” said Gulleymabry, who was defending Stewart throughout the game. “We try to play our best defense to keep him off the glass.”
“[Stewart] did not play a smart, experienced game today. Stupid fouls, missing too many layups; you can’t do it like that. You can’t win like that,” said Wilson.
While Chatman doesn't have as much experience, he showed in the fourth quarter he could be a closer for English. The freshman knocked down both of his free throws with a minute left in the game, making it to a two-possession lead.
“He seems like he’s been doing this for a long time,” Robinson said. “Very solid, very refined freshman.”
Zolan Kanno-Youngs covers Boston Public school athletics. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @KannoYoungs.
Two city team remains in this week’s edition of the Boston Globe’s Top 20 poll.
While No. 11 New Mission moved down three spots in the poll, coach Cory McCarthy continues to propel his team to win big games. The Titans have won all three of their games since the New Year, the latest coming against O’Bryant.
One of those wins also came against East Boston, which was bumped out of the poll after the Jets' latest loss to No. 13-ranked Brighton.
Central Catholic continues to hold the No. 1 spot with a 10-1 record, while undefeated St. John’s Prep trails at No. 2.
To follow the Globe's Top 20 poll all season long, click here.
The 2:40 dismissal bell just rang at Burke, meaning crowds of students flock to school buses while teachers remain for about a half-an-hour making sure the school day ends accordingly.
As the teachers casually begin to exit the school and continue on with their day, one dashes out in front of the pack.
Hugh Coleman doesn’t have much time, he’s got to pick up his 10-year-old daughter, Jordyn, and his 6-year-old son, Jaylen, from their schools and he only has thirty minutes to do it.
At Latin Academy another teacher is rushing out of the gym, Hugh’s wife, Emily. Coach Emily Coleman just ended her 2-4 p.m. practice and now must meet her husband at their home in Mattapan so that Hugh can make it to his 5-7 practice at Brighton High School.
That’s just an average day in the life of the Colemans. Oh, and they just had their third child, a 9-week-old boy, Juliyen.
“Our mentality is that [our children are] our responsibility and if we’re teaching, we’re coaching and we got the children it’s our responsibility to figure that out and not someone elses,” said Hugh.
The Colemans have mastered time management. They have successfully maintained their careers as teachers and are each head coaches for stable basketball programs in the BPS system. Hugh, the Globe's Division 2 Coach of the Year last winter, has guided the defending EMass champion Brighton boys to a 6-3 record thus far and Emily has the LA girls in third place in the North division with a 4-2 record.
“We try really hard to have that team concept, we work together as a team,” Hugh said.
This team concept has been essential since the new member of their family arrived. While Emily’s mother-in-law has watched Juliyen during the school day (after her daily bingo of course), the child has always been with one of them in the afternoon.
This still doesn’t stop them from supporting each other at their games.
“He’s so young we don’t want him with anyone else right now. If [Hugh’s] at a game, the babies with me, I’m at a game, he’s holding the baby with one arm and helping me coach across the gym,” Emily said.
Hugh is used to carrying his child in basketball gyms. He even managed to run one of his early try-outs while carrying Juliyen in a sling. Similarly to Emily, Hugh also has a large influence from his partner when it comes to coaching.
“When I got the job at Brighton like literally she is the fifth, sixth coach. Every year when we’re talking about strategy, when we’re talking about coaching the young men, I always have to get her perspective because she knows what she’s talking about,” Hugh said.
No challenge has been hard enough to keep Emily away from coaching, not even pregnancy. She described how before the season, her LA team was going through multiple changes, including the hiring of new assistant coaches. Emily wouldn’t allow herself to take a long maternal leave because of the team’s vulnerable state.
“For me, to just change what they started, it would be pretty devastating to them. That can affect a high school career so I decided to suck it up and say ‘hey, we are together we can work this out,” Emily said. “Just give me two weeks of rest and I’ll be good.”
The coaches continue to mentor their players as if they were their own children. At the end of every season, they invite both teams to their home for a “Dragon vs. Tigers” end of the year banquet. They added that coaching even prepped them for being parents.
“Even before we were real parents, we were parents, raising these kids,” Hugh said.
That means that their children are held to the same high standards their players are held to.
“I tell my girls never settle for Cs because it means you’re average. It’s an average grade and you’re not an average person so that coaching philosophy has carried over in to my personal philosophy,” Emily said.
For the Colemans, the roles of being parents and coaches have complimented each other. Hugh touched on how his parenting skills have allowed him to connect to the young men on his team in ways that other coaches may not be able to.
“How do you get to a kid? How do you psychologically do things? Everything is not just do what I say or X, Y and Z. You have to employ the things you do psychologically for your kids with the students you work with,” Hugh said.
The couple agreed that in order to maintain that connection with their players and be their role models, they must avoid hypocrisy. That means never being late to any of their practices, games, or classes.
“If you’re early, you’re on time and if you’re on time, you’re late,” Hugh said, referring to the mentality he embraced while an assistant coach under former Charlestown head coach Jack O’Brien. “I can’t say something and not follow through because it’s going to be a contradiction."
This is what has continued to motivate the couple in their commitment-filled lifestyles, the dozens of children counting on them and looking up to them. While others may feel overwhelmed by the various challenges in their life, Hugh and Emily Coleman are showing that with teamwork, any challenge can me managed.
However to them, they’re just doing their job.
“[Someone] called me super-woman,” Emily said. “I’m just a mother and a coach. You play the hand you’re dealt.”
The second annual Junior City Wrestling Tournament was a huge success as flocks of people came to TechBoston Academy to show their support for wrestling within the city.
The attendance compared to last year’s tournament was nearly doubled and it has Boston Youth Wrestling’s founder optimistic about city wrestling.
“It was outstanding. Even more kids came than we were expecting. There were more parents. There was a lot of great wrestling,” Jose Valenzuela said.
The tournament was set up in a round-robin style so that each wrestler would face everyone in their weight class. Coaches then voted among the wrestlers with the best records for the Outstanding Wrestler Award.
Three city wrestlers stood out among the group, including two with undefeated records. Clayton Rodrigues from the Frederick School and Oliver Xu of Roxbury Latin each went 4-0 in the tournament. Jimmy Lynce of TechBoston Academy also wrestled well, going 3-1.
“Wrestling is viable, strong and on the rise in the city,” Valenzuela said.
The coaches voted Jack Socialoia, a Catholic Memorial wrestler registered at 96.5 pounds, as the most outstanding wrestler for the lightweight class. Dan Williamson, a 150-pounder from BC High, took home the honor for the heavy weights.
Williamson was able to pin every wrestler he faced.
Valenzuela added that the tournament was very successful in terms of fundraising for Boston Youth Wrestling, which can only mean great things for the future of city wrestling.
“We can build on this for years to come,” Jose Valenzuela said. “I’ve tried to highlight wrestling around the city and this showed city wrestling is proving itself.”
With a month to go before tournament time, these three may be worth checking out.
Brighton at South Boston, Wednesday:
After getting walloped against Fenway in a game for first place in the North division, South Boston will be looking to get back on track.
Brighton will have its work cut out with junior guard Elaina Wright-McCarthy back and healthy. However, the Tigers offense has been improving, putting up a season-high in points scored their last time out.
O’Bryant at Brighton, 3, Friday:
A rematch from Brighton’s season opener. Brighton will look to avenge the 59-8 loss and this time it’s in their territory.
The Tigers two wins this season have both come on their home court. If they hope to keep winning, they’ll have to find someway to score against O’Bryant’s league best defense.
Fenway at East Boston, 5 p.m., Friday:
East Boston continues its pursuit of its first win. What better way to get it than beating a first place Fenway team that happens to be on a 5-game win streak?
East Boston will need all the support they can get on their home floor in this one.
Zolan Kanno-Youngs covers Boston Public school athletics. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @KannoYoungs.
Looking for a great game too check out this week. How about one of these three:
Madison Park (3-5) at Boston English (7-5), 6 p.m., Tuesday:
This could be the type of win coach Dennis Wilson’s team needs to jumpstart their season.
All three of Madison Park’s wins have come on the road and that could increase as they head to Boston English to face coach Barry Robinson’s potent offense.
It’s going to come down to defense versus offense, Boston English scoring the second most points in the city league against Madison Park with the second-best defense in the city league.
Dorchester at No. 15 East Boston, 5:30 p.m., Wednesday:
This will be a test for East Boston’s city league best defense.
Dorchester’s offense, led by senior guard Jeduan Langston, was able to put up big numbers against Madison Park’s great defense so it will be interesting to see how East Boston handles the dangerous backcourt.
Charlestown at No. 8 New Mission, 6 p.m., Friday:
The Townies simply need a win.
Coach Edson Cardoso’s team hasn’t been able to put it together since a tough loss at West Roxbury. They’re also coming off their fourth straight loss against a Burke team that they clearly had the talent to beat.
Beating the top-ranked team in the city league will be tough but it would give them just enough momentum to finish the season strong.
The size of Latin Academy was just too much for a resilient East Boston team in Friday night’s north division matchup.
LA (4-2) closed the last six minutes of the game on a 19-5 run to come away with the 58-41 win over the Jets. Six of those 19 points came from sophomore center Catherine Loney, who led the way in scoring for the Dragons with 18 points. She credits the amount of practice time she’s put in to her post moves.
“I like to post up and just go hard and go up with it,” Loney said. “I’m in the gym seven days a week, so I don’t take breaks. ”
She certainly did not take a break in this game. She and rest of the Latin Academy front court, owned the East Boston backboard all afternoon.
“We will be doing some boxing out drills, that’s for sure,” said East Boston coach Phil Brangiforte. “We’re small and the last few games, that’s what we’ve been getting beat on, the boards.”
Despite this, East Boston rallied in the third quarter. With 3:08 to go in the quarter and LA up 31-21, junior guard Chuckearah Johnson, who led the Jets with 22 points, hit a step back 3-pointer to start a 7-0 run for East Boston.
“We picked up on the defense, we went to the press. I think that’s what brought us back,” said Brangiforte.
The East Boston full-court press produced a surplus of turnovers, making it difficult for the Dragons' guards to even cross the half court. With the lead cut to 3, coach Emily Hunter-Coleman called a timeout.
“You all need to figure this out,” Coleman said to her players.
Coleman described how senior guard Briana Willis stepped up in the huddle and addressed her teammates on how, as a team, they were not playing at their level.
“I think it took that emotion and that fire in her eyes to let the girls know this is not us and it wasn’t. That’s why we picked it up,” Coleman said.
The speech had an immediate effect with an inspired senior guard Ayjah Willis drawing a foul on the next possession on a hard drive to the basket.
Once the fourth quarter came along, it was all Latin Academy.
“We tend to make mistakes and we know what to do to. It’s all mental. A mental breakdown starts to happen but we just told ourselves we got to stay strong and fix the mistakes we were doing. We don’t want to lose to a team like this,” Loney said.
The second annual City Junior Wrestling Championships will be Saturday, at the TechBoston Academy.
In addition to TechBoston/Dorchester and Frederick, the participants from last year’s championship, Boston Youth Wrestling has also expanded to the Irving and McCormack middle schools. Along with the four BPS schools, private and parochial schools are also expected to join in the action.
Jose Valenzuela, the founder of Boston Youth Wrestling, started the organization with a team of just a couple Dorchester high school students. Since then, the organization has grown to having 110 participants in four middle schools and three high schools.
“The main idea is to support the coaches at these schools and get these kids on the wrestling mat,” Valenzuela said. “We want to expand the opportunity for wrestling but we're also trying to give them the skills they need for life.”
Valenzuela added that while these students are improving in wrestling skills, they are also increasing their perseverance, gaining strong discipline and learning how to put effort in everything they do.
The championship this Saturday should be another opportunity for an abundance of students to improve on these life skills while improving their overall wrestling game.
The founder is inviting anyone who wants to see the great wrestling in the city, as well as anyone interested in volunteering as a referee, scorer, or concession worker.
Details on the tournament are below:
Location: TechBoston Academy, 9 Peacevale Rd
Boys' basketball coach Dan Bunker said in order for Latin Academy to beat its crosstown rival, the Dragons would need to find the open man and make open shots. Latin Academy did just that on Tuesday, coming up 1 point shy of its season high for points, in a 63-44 win against the visiting Boston Latin Wolfpack.
“We just wanted to come out with a lot of intensity make sure we get this win,” said senior guard Edwin Porro. “We’re below what we expected, we [were] 3-4 and we’re trying to make states this year.”
That goal may be in sight if Latin Academy (4-4) can start games the way it did this one. The Dragons closed the last three minutes of the first quarter on a 6-0 run for an 11-6 lead. They kept the momentum going in the beginning of the second quarter with both sophomore guard Rayshawn Miller and junior guard Darren Chanel connecting on 3-pointers.
Porro also chipped in 10 of his game-high 20 points in the quarter to give his team a 32-16 lead at the half.
“When they went to man-to-man, we spread the floor and we have some good shooters. I mean we made shots,” said Bunker. “That’s really what the game came down to.”
For Boston Latin, coach Brendan Smith said that a lot of those open shots were a result of blatant confusion among his team’s defense.
“Just confused about assignments and not just doing the fundamental defensive things that we practice all the time,” Smith said. “Just complete lack of mental concentration.”
Smith showed more of his frustration when he subbed out his entire starting unit 16 seconds into the second half after Rayshawn Miller, the smallest player on the court, got his own offensive rebound and drew a foul to go to the line.
“Kids miss layups, kids miss shots, but lack of mental concentration after we just talked about a certain aspect of the game? There’s just no tolerance for that,” Smith said.
His team did respond, going on an 11-3 run over the next four minutes mainly due to sophomore forward Adam Mikula setting up his teammates well and chipping in some baskets himself. Mikula ended the game with a team-high 11 points.
“I knew they were [going to] make a run, they’re a pretty good team,” said Bunker. “We were able to call a timeout, regroup and get stops. It started with defense; up 15 or 16 if we get stops they can’t come back.”
His team succeeded in stopping the comeback, outscoring Boston Latin, 19-15, in the fourth quarter. Latin Academy showed that this contest meant a little bit more than a nonleague game, beating the Wolfpack to every loose ball right until the buzzer sounded.
“I want to go in to every game as intense as possible, hustling after every ball and doing whatever I can to make sure my team wins,” Porro said. “Today was definitely a rivalry game, but I say this every other game, I just want to play as hard as possible.”
The “Dream Big! Kathy Dooley Inspiration Grant & Scholarship” is looking for high school female basketball players that meet the following criteria:
- Exhibits extraordinary courage and leadership in her athletic performance
- Values education
- Understands the importance of giving back and serves as an inspiration and role model for others
- From a low income family living in Massachusetts
In the words of her family and friends, Kathy showed all of these characteristics as a player and was compassionate, incredible, strong, loving, ambitious, intelligent, funny, motivating, athletic, kind and courageous every moment until she lost her battle with Leukemia in September 2010.
This Grant and Scholarship Award in the name of Kathy Includes:
- Attendance at an overnight basketball camp in Massachusetts in the summer of 2013.
- Sneakers, Sports Attire and Dream Big! Sports Bag
- Invitation/Recognition at a Dream Big! Event in 2013
To apply a coach or program leader must fill out the Dream Big! Equipment Grant Application at link below and note it is for the “Kathy Dooley Inspiration Grant and Scholarship Award” at: http://www.dream-big.org/content/grants-scholarships
You know the saying. You can’t win a game in the first half, but you sure can lose one.
Boston English (4-3) got outscored by South Boston 24-9 in the first quarter and despite a 3-point shooting barrage from the Blue and Blue in the third quarter, English couldn’t overcome the deficit in 58-49 loss to the Knights (6-1).
"We’ve been working on our full court, man-to-man defense and they came out and did a really good job on that," South Boston coach Andrea Higgins said. "They were getting steals and seeing players. Couldn’t be happier."
English came out just a step slower than the Knights, resulting in a lot of turnovers and missed shots. South Boston closed the first quarter on a 10-2 run. English coach Justine Grace said one of the reasons for the early lethargic play was a lack of warm-up time for the team.
“It was rough getting here, the bus showed up really late at our school so we didn’t have a lot of time to warm up," Grace said. "So I think that affected the way we had a slow start."
Grace added how she needed to call a timeout just to calm her team down and let them get their defense.
The Blue and Blue responded in the second quarter, outscoring the Lady Knights 15-8 behind nine points from senior guard Ashley Louis-Jean. Senior guard Trayana Mair kept it going in the third, scoring 11 of her 24 points, including three 3-pointers.
"They’re very skilled, poised; pretty much keep their head no matter what situation," Grace said. "I rely on them a lot. They’re the number one and number two scorers for me."
However, South Boston still led 49-41 at the end of the third period while starting guard Elaina Wright-McCarthy, who was still recovering from being sick, sat out for virtually the entire second quarter and a good portion of the third. This allowed other players, like freshman guard Jocelyn Harris, to fill the void.
“We don’t need just one person to set the tone, we can all set the tone and when we do we work together and get far in our games,” said Harris, who finished with a team-high 16 points for South Boston.
South Boston forward Destinee Morris, a sophomore, started at point-guard in place of the sick Wright-McCarty in the previous two games and tallied15-points on the night, nine of them coming in the first quarter.
“I think because she had to lead the team in the past two games, she really came out as a leader in this game too,” Higgins said.
While she was happy about the win, coach Higgins quickly brought up her team’s upcoming game against Fenway, a team that handed South Boston its only loss of the season -- a 75-33 blowout.
“We’re very excited about going in to the second half of the season right now with only one loss and pretty excited to play the No. 1 team and see if we can give them a better game than the first we played [against] them,” Higgins said.
These teams share more in common than just the name of their school.
Both Boston Latin Academy (3-4) and Boston Latin (3-6) are looking for a game to jumpstart their seasons and tomorrow’s matchup at LA may just be what each team is looking for.
Both have had their share of close games this season, from Boston Latin’s last win against Lincoln-Sudbury (47-42) to LA’s league wins against Fenway and Burke.
Aside from Boston Latin’s blowout win last year (62-38), games between the two rivals have also gone down to the wire. In 2011, LA beat Boston Latin by just 3 points, 53-50.
LA coach Daniel Bunker believes that tomorrow’s game will be yet another close one.
“It’s a game between two even teams so I think it really comes down to who can hit open shots,” said Bunker.
He added that free throws will be essential as a result of Boston Latin only giving up 51-points a game, while LA gives up just four more points (55) on average.
The only thing that Bunker could point to as an advantage for his team is playing on their home court and how familiar the student-athletes from each team are with each other.
“These kids go play at the [YMCA] together, they know each other,” Bunker said. “Sometimes we just need to say a player’s name and they already know which hand they like to dribble with.”
Bunker can only hope that familiarity works in LA’s favor as the two rivals meet 6 p.m. Tuesday at LA.
The Boston Globe’s Top 20 poll was released on Monday and two city teams remained in the boys' rankings.
No. 8 New Mission continues to assert its position as the front runners in the city league with two huge wins against Madison Park (69-64) and East Boston (68-44) last week.
While coach Dennis Wilson’s team played their best game of the season against New Mission, the Titans still managed to put up 69 points in the win and their 68 against East Boston earned them a 24-point win. New Mission continues to have the best offense in the city-league, averaging 71.7 ppg.
The loss for East Boston drops them to No. 15 in the rankings however, the Jets responded well with a 21-point win over a South Boston team that had been on a roll, winning three straight.
Central Catholic remained in the top-spot in the rankings, followed by St. John’s Prep and Mansfield.
To follow the rankings all season long, click here.
It’s lunchtime at Boston Latin Academy, meaning the cafeteria is cluttered with hungry students rushing to find a seat and converse with their friends. In the mist of the social scene, one group of athletes is heading in the opposite direction -- back to the classrooms to find their coach.
The LA track team won’t go over strategies or have pep-talks for their upcoming events, but are rather just improving their team chemistry, a chemistry that has resulted in back-to-back city championships in indoor and outdoor events for both the girls and boys teams.
“I have a whole track group come to my room at lunch,” said coach Brian Leussler, who added that it is acts like these that create a light-hearted environment, plus a competitive attitude, that add up to a successful track season.
Leussler must know what he’s talking about, given his coaching style has not only attracted numerous amounts of high school students but also LA middle school students.
“We’re much more than a track team,” said freshman runner Ashley Lewis. “Track is our place to come together. The relationship we have makes track much more enjoyable.”
Lewis has been present for both of LA’s city championships, including when the girls team beat defending champion O’Bryant in the 2010-11 season. She was just a seventh grader at the time.
“It was so mind-boggling,” said Lewis, who is preparing for this year's indoor city championships Feb. 4-5. “We we’re so excited that we made history for BLA.”
While Lewis may not believe it, Leussler believes students like her that start the sport in middle school play a huge factor in the team’s success.
“We approach it as a fun thing,” said sophomore Xazier Hill when asked about his transition to the team in middle school. “We believe if you make it fun, people will perform well. Some people don’t perform well under pressure.”
He added that while Leussler’s coaching style is great for attracting young talent, starting at a young age would mean nothing without guidance from upperclassman.
“Upperclassmen take us under their wing and teach us things the coach can’t,” Hill said. The sophomore relayed how former LA track star Tucker Gye mentored Hill on his long jumping when he first came to the team as a seventh grader. He credits that mentoring to his winning the Most Improved Player award last season.
“The fact that there are so many mentors pushing us makes it better,” Hill said.
One of those mentors is junior co-captain Malik Anderson. While Anderson’s list of accomplishments runs long, the state-meet qualifier still believes that helping out his teammates is priority number one.
“If you help someone out on the team, you’re helping yourself because you see things you’re doing wrong,” said the co-captain. “Even if you have school work or family problems the team will be there for you.”
It is this type of family first mentality that the Dragons said allowed Leussler to snap O’Bryant’s 18-year streak of winning the city championship. Leussler didn’t deny that seeing a team win all those years can spark a bit of a rivalry.
“It’s been a friendly but competitive nature between me and coach [Jose] Ortega for about the last 10 years,” Leussler said.
Despite LA's success, the consensus among the Dragons is that an LA repeat does not equate to satisfaction among the team.
“It’s a lot of pressure because we have people looking up to you," senior captain June Yao said. “After we win, we just get to a place where we want to keep winning.”
That hunger is what keeps the Dragons going back to their coach’s office while other’s socialize, maintaining their connection with each other and continuously improving their team chemistry, all in an effort to win a third city title.
Boston English (4-2) at South Boston (5-1), 4 p.m., Monday:
English, coming off its biggest win of the year against Burke (75-41), will look to break South Boston’s five-game win-streak.
South Boston has only lost to the undefeated Fenway Panthers, and will look to break an English defense that hasn’t been easy on any team, allowing only 33.2 points-a-game.
CASH (0-3) at O’Bryant (6-0), 4 p.m., Wednesday:
Two teams on the opposite ends of the standings meet with the common goal of getting a win.
Even though CASH is still looking for their first win of the season and its second game to hit double-digit scoring, it will be worth seeing how the Tigers respond to their closest contest of the season against Boston English (44-38). They’ll need to be able to do so if they hope to compete with Fenway.
Latin Academy (2-1) at East Boston (0-3), 4:30 p.m., Friday:
East Boston will need to find a way to get their offense rolling against the Dragons given that they currently have the second worst offense in the city league.
It’s still early in the season but a win against a Latin Academy team carrying momentum after a 3-point win against Madison Park would be a good way to start.
Boston Latin at Latin Academy, 5:30 p.m., Tuesday:
A competitive game can always be expected when these two rivals match up.
The Dragons (3-4), coming off two straight losses to Charlestown and Dorchester, look to hit the .500 mark in their first non-league game of the season against the (3-6) Wolfpack.
In order to so, they’ll need to find a way to get their offense rolling as they are currently the second worst scoring team in the city.
Boston English at South Boston, 5:30 p.m., Wednesday:
There are no signs that coach Barry Robinson’s offense is going to slow down anytime soon.
English (6-3) has enough depth in the backcourt to keep its high-tempo offense afloat against a South Boston team (6-3) coming off a 21-point loss to East Boston, who only averages 55.4 points-a-game.
However, South Boston has played great thus far at home (4-0) and is the front-runner in the south division of the city league.
Dorchester at O’Bryant, 6:00 p.m., Friday
Defining stretch of the season for coach Drew Brock’s O'Bryant team.
The week starts a 4-game span of city-league play for the Tigers (5-4), including a Wednesday game against New Mission (6-3) before this match-up.
The match-up won’t be an easy one either with Dorchester sitting at the top-spot in the central division and the only city team with five-league wins thus far.
In a game that went down to the wire, an undersized West Roxbury team showed its fortitude at home in a grudge match against Charlestown.
Junior forward Timoy Jarret scored 8 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter including the go-ahead basket with less than a minute to go in the game, to lift the Raiders over the Townies, 56-50.
I just wanted this win,” said Jarret. “All week I’ve been thinking about playing this team today and I just wanted to go home with a win this week.”
Junior guard Markus Neale also closed well for the Raiders (3-3), scoring 10 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter.
It took a team effort to defeat a Charlestown team (2-4) that came out of the halftime carrying a rejuvenated swagger. With arguably their best player, junior Freddy Oliveira, on the bench for the entire third quarter, the Townies were still able to outscore the Raiders, 20-13.
“We were trying to make it a little bit more fast-paced by going to our press [to] make the game a little faster,” said Charlestown coach Edson Cardoso. “I thought we had some success but at the end, you have to defend the half-court and if they break the press, you have to defend at the other end.”
The defensive success Cardoso was talking about had a lot to do with the 6-foot-11-inch senior Jon Grullon cleaning up the mess for the Townies. However, West Roxbury coach Martin Somers thought that press is what played to his team's advantage.
“We’re smaller, we’re quicker. They have a lot more size so we actually wanted them to press us and there were key situations where they did put their 1-2-2 full court press on and it worked to our advantage,” said Somers.
The fourth quarter seemed like the momentum was going in Charlestown's favor with an opening alley-oop play, finished by senior forward Alijah Robinson.
Both teams traded baskets after the play, until a technical foul was called on Raiders' senior guard Deven Robinson for exchanging words with Townies' sophomore guard Kevin Williams.
If there was ever a play that got the Raiders fired up, it was that one. After the Townies didn’t connect on the free throw from the technical, West Roxbury went on a 12-2 run over a 5 1/2-minute span to put them up, 50-45.
“I just think we had a couple mental breakdowns, a couple transition layups we should of made [and] some missed box-outs,” said Cardoso.
Junior Taris Wilson, who led the way for the Townies with 21 points, still had one last run in him. With 1:40 to go Wilson hit a fast break layup and less than 40 seconds later hit a game-tying 3-pointer to silence the crowd.
However, just like they did throughout the game, West Roxbury responded. On a hard drive to the basket Jarret hit the go-ahead layup with 25 seconds to go. From there, Jarret and Neale hit all their free throws and the Raiders came away with the win.
“I’m really proud of my guys,” said Somers. “They’re tough guys, they fought through it [and] I give all the credit to the guys.”
Some student-athletes look to the big leagues to learn how to take control of a game, others to their coach and others still to their parents.
For freshman Bulldog Ernie Chatman, it’s all three and it paid off in English’s 70-63 win over O’Bryant.
“My father pushes us, he just keeps our head up. Whenever we’re shooting [badly] or anything, he’ll have us take extra shots. We just work hard in practice and I think it pays off,” the freshman point guard said.
His father, Joseph Chatman (assistant coach for O’Bryant), got to see those extra shots pay off as his son capped off a 19-point performance, hitting both of his free throws to ice the game with less than a minute left.
“Last four minutes is a point guard show,” said Chatman. “Watch Chris Paul for an example, last four minutes is his game.”
Chatman and junior shooting guard Shaun Miller completed a backcourt for English that scored 37 of the team's 70 points. Miller got the Bulldogs off to an early 7-point lead, scoring 12 of his 18 points in the first quarter.
“I went to scout them in the Christmas tournament against Walpole and I told them [Shaun Miller] is a lights-out shooter and he hit three [3-pointers] in the first quarter, so that makes me a little mad, because I drive an hour to go scout and than that kid kills us,” said O’Bryant coach Drew Brock.
O’Bryant, already playing without its starting point guard Harry Demosthene (sidelined with an illness), missed 10 of its 26 free throws.
“Free-throw shooting has been our Achilles [heel] all year,” Brock said. “Tomorrow’s practice will literally involve nothing but running or shooting free throws.”
He added that playing without Demosthene forced him to move his regular shooting guards to the point guard position, which resulted in his team’s sloppy play. According to Robinson, this played right to his team’s advantage.
“The game plan basically was to suffocate their guards because we know they have really, really good big guys,” said Robinson.
Despite all of that, O’Bryant still had one more run. Down, 55-43, the Tigers went on a 10- 4 run during the first four minutes of the quarter to close within 6 points.
Robinson had his team slow their pace, resulting in each team exchanging a basket and two free throws over the next two minutes and thirty seconds.
English than gave up just one more field goal and all it was left to do was hit its free throws.
English is 5-3 and O'Bryant fell to 4-3, but to Ernie Chatman, the satisfaction is only temporary.
“We’re thinking about next game, whoever is in front of us,” said Chatman. “Burke’s Thursday, we’re thinking about beating them by 100. We won that game, we’re going to celebrate tonight [but] tomorrow we’re back to business.”
Even though they’re coming off a 3-point loss to Windsor (Conn.), New Mission is now the top-ranked city team at the No. 12 spot thanks to their poignant offense. The Titans 72.6 points-per-game has led them win their first three games of the season, including a blow-out against Charlestown.
East Boston (No. 13) has shown that a full-court buzzer-beater isn’t the only way they can win a close game, after their last win against Everett was decided by just one point.
The future rankings of both these teams will be decided this Wednesday, Jan. 9, when East Boston takes on the Titans at New Mission.
Central Catholic gathered the top spot in the poll ahead of Lowell and St. John’s Prep.
To follow the rankings all season long, click here.
Boston English (3-1) at O’Bryant (5-0), 4 p.m. Tuesday
If English wants to make a run at the Boston City League South title this will be their first shot of the year to take knock the undefeated Tigers off their perch at the top of the division.
This should be a pretty big offensive battle as O’Bryant scores 63.2 points per game and English averages 50.5 points per game.
English is also looking to wipe away the sour taste of an overtime loss to West Roxbury right before the holiday break. After opening the season with three straight victories,
English lost to West Roxbury, 54-50, on Dec. 21.
Madison Park (0-4) at Fenway (4-1), 6 p.m. Wednesday
Madison Park is still searching for its first win of the season but they have been in every game besides a season-opening loss to Ursuline.
The Cardinals only lost to South Boston by five points and Latin Academy by three points before falling to Milton, 48-37, on Dec. 27.
An upset against the top team in the north division would be a huge feather in the Cardinals’ cap.
Fenway has only lost to Reading this season and nobody has even gotten close to them in the city league so far.
O’Bryant (5-0) at New Mission (1-1), 6 p.m. Friday
This is a potential city championship matchup and should be the first true test of the season for both squads.
It's O’Bryant’s first time traveling to New Mission’s new gym at the former Hyde Park Education Complex so that could provide an edge to the Titans. But the Tigers have done well on both of their away games so far this season at Dorchester and West Roxbury.
O’Bryant at Boston English, 6 p.m., Tuesday:
In this central division clash of the Boston City League, O'Bryant coach Drew Hughes-Brock will hope that his team can keep its winning-streak alive against the high-scoring Bulldogs. O’Bryant (4-2) hasn’t lost a game since Dec. 19, beating Latin Academy (44-39), Nantucket (63-53), and Madison Park (45-43).
For Boston English (4-3), the game will be more challenging than their previous 38-point win against Southeastern. In fact, the Bulldogs haven’t won a game by less than 19 points this season.
O’Bryant will look to change that as their defense only allows 55 points-a-game, making them the fourth best defense in the City League.
No. 18 East Boston at No. 9 New Mission, 6 p.m., Wednesday
Both of these ranked teams are coming off games that went down to the wire. East Boston’s (5-2) last win against Everett was decided by just a point, 49-48.
New Mission (4-3) will look to their high-scoring offense (72.6 points per game) to bounce back from its loss against Windsor (74-71).
A win would be crucial for both teams, with both at the top of a 4-way tie in the city's north division.
No. 9 New Mission at No. 15 Madison Park, 6 p.m., Friday
This is a huge game for Madison Park as the Cardinals are still pursuing the .500 mark. Aside from a 16-point loss to Dorchester, both of coach Dennis Wilson’s team’s losses have been decided by one or two possessions.
Madison Park should expect another competitive contest against a New Mission team that has yet to find a defense it can’t break down.
Zolan Kanno-Youngs covers Boston Public school athletics. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow him on Twitter href="http://twitter.com/kannoyoungs">@kannoyoungs.
Anyone who has followed Boston public schools sports the last few years probably knows the name David Stewart.
The Madison Park senior football player and basketball player made a name for himself in the Cardinals' run to the Division 1 South sectional championship as a tough-as-nails cleanup man under the boards. He was just as hard-nosed for Madison Park’s football team in its run to the Division 4A Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium this fall.
But the name David Stewart means something entirely different at South Boston High.
That’s because the Knights have their own David Stewart, a 6-foot-7-inch center playing his first season of varsity basketball.
And what most people don’t realize is that the two Stewarts don't just share the same name, they share the same father as well.
“It’s a good name, I love the name,” said the boys’ father who is also named, you guessed it, David Stewart — well David Stewart, Sr. “It’s a strange thing but it’s a good thing.
"My father always said ‘When you call one, you want both of their attention.’ ”
The 18-year-olds are technically half brothers, but judging from the frequency they text message each other and the competitiveness of their one-on-one battles on the basketball court and in video games, there’s no telling the difference.
“It’s my brother, I talk to him every day,” said the Stewart who attends South Boston and is older by a few months. “Well, really, text message; I don’t really talk to him, he gets annoying.”
Spoken like a true older brother.
But the older brother still has followed his younger brother’s career at Madison Park pretty closely.
“At the end of the day that’s still my brother, you gotta be his No. 1 fan,” he said.
They both live in Dorchester with their respective mothers but have a close relationship with their father, who also lives in Dorchester. Their grandmother calls them David 1 and David 2.
David Stewart Sr. said when the younger David's mom asked him about naming their son David, he said he already had a son named David but if she was comfortable with it he would be too.
“To me, in our family, they are brothers. That’s how we leave it, we never said 'half-brothers' but brothers,” said senior. “We treat both the same. When I go out and buy them things I buy them the same thing just different colors.
“I think as brothers they love each other, they respect each other and I’m proud of that. When they were younger, there were little rifts but nothing [major]. I’ve been pretty fortunate.”
They attended different elementary and middle schools growing up and have two different groups of friends. Eventually friends found out they had a brother with the same name. But while a joke might be made here and there, they both said nobody gave them a hard time.
When their social scenes do mixed up, nobody knows they are brothers at first because the elder Stewart mostly goes by “Bones,” thanks to his tall and skinny frame.
“At first, nobody knew we were brothers but it caught on,” the younger Stewart said. “Some people would say our name and both of us would look at them. That’s how they caught on. People are like, ‘Who named you that,' and I’m like ‘Our father.’ And they just start laughing.”
Growing up, the older Stewart always dominated his brother in one-on-one basketball, especially because he played in middle school while his younger brother didn’t pick up organized basketball until freshman year.
“He would dominate me, if we did one-on-one he’d win by three points or two points till I started practicing on my own and I got better,” said the younger Stewart, noting that he didn’t finally beat his brother until they were both 15 years old.
Ironically, the younger Stewart was always bigger than his brother until the older Stewart hit his growth spurt in 10th grade and jumped up to 6-7. His 6-3 younger brother is still nothing to sneeze at in the height department.
“I gotta look up to him now,” the younger Stewart said. “When we was younger, even though he was older, he was looking up to me.”
And now that they are both finally playing varsity athletics at the same time, they don’t get to play against each other because Madison Park and South Boston don’t play under the new division realignment for boys’ basketball in the city league.
“I’m a little bummed because I like going to Madison and playing there,” the elder Stewart said. “It’s intense and I like the competition.”
Their father is proud that both his sons have found their way athletically but he also hopes that they find their way in life as well.
“They’ve been doing pretty well sports wise and things,” he said. “I just also want them to stay focused on their learning and always have something to fall back on. I’m a contractor. I work with my hands. I think if these guys do good there’s a chance they could work with their brains and not with their hands.”
In a game that didn’t lack a possession where a player fell hard and came up slow, Dorchester (1-3, 1-1 Central) could not fight through a 5-point halftime deficit due to a solid Cambridge (1-2) defense and lost to the Falcons 58-51.
Dorchester coach Johnny Williams said that the loss was not a matter of talent but rather a lack of mental strength in a physical game.
“We got a little unfocused, we were worried about a couple of questionable calls where a couple kids were complaining about getting smacked but they didn’t play through it,” Williams said.
One player who did play through it was senior Jeduan Langston. The shooting guard led the way for the Bears, scoring nine of his 22 points in a late fourth quarter surge.
Dorchester began the quarter down 39-30 but went on a 5-0 run that began with a Langston layup.
The guard than hit the floor hard on a take to the basket and had to come out of the game for nearly four minutes after hitting one of two at the line.
“He still played tough in the end. When he was [broken], he wanted to be in there. He might be out a game or two but his heart? You can’t take that away,” said Williams.
Dorchester managed to score 21 points in the quarter but it was not enough against a Cambridge team that managed to put up 19 points to close out the game. The Falcons were led by senior guard Robell Gebeyehu with 16 points, including two 3-pointers.
The game was really decided in the second quarter, when the Bears were held to just 5 points compared to 15 for Cambridge, bringing them in to the half down 23-18.
“[We had] better rotations, guys [were] pressuring the ball a little bit better. We still cannot allow the basketball to go all the way to the cup as it did,” said Cambridge coach Lance Dottin.
However, Dottin felt the same as Williams in terms of the physicality of the game getting out of hand.
“I thought it was physical on both sides. There was a little bit too much that was allowed in terms of contact.”
Cambridge was able to hold it together though and use the physicality to its advantage, with 15 of the team's 19 fourth-quarter points coming from the line. That’s more than Dorchester had in the last three quarters combined.
“We work on that. That’s something we pride ourselves with, being mentally tough,” Williams said. “I’m dealing with 17-year-old kids, I’m expecting them to be mentally tough but there’s only so much a kid can take before they break.”
Dorchester will hope to regain its mental strength and remain stable in the team's next city game against East Boston, slated for 5:30 p.m. Jan. 23.
The Boston Scholar Athletes Program recently released eligibility rates for its varsity scholar-athletes during the fall sports season.
The nonprofit organization designed to support Boston public school athletics reported that 97 percent of all scholar athletes from exam schools (Boston Latin, Latin Academy and the John D. O’Bryant School) remained eligible during the fall season while 84 percent of their counterparts from non-exam schools were eligible.
Three years ago, the BSA established learning centers for athletes at each of Boston’s 19 public high schools called Zones. Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino and Suffolk Construction CEO and chairman John Fish collaborated to create the BSA after The Boston Globe ran a seven-part series in 2009 on the sad state of the district's athletic program called "Failing our Athletes."
Each Zone also has its own Zone facilitator that works the scholar athletes and other Zone members to help them academically. The district-wide eligibility standard for athletes is a 1.67 GPA (a C-minus average) but some schools hold their athletes to higher standards.
BSA Academic Associate Colin Campbell noted that eligibility rates were down slightly this fall because they made a concerted effort to target student athletes that have struggled to maintain eligibility in the past. That was coupled with an overall 13.4 percent increase in athletic participation this fall compared to fall 2011.
“Inherently when you do that you may have more students lose eligibility during the season,” Campbell said during a telephone interview on Friday afternoon. “We really worked with them to get the in the Zone, we worked with the coaches and the staff … those are the students that need the most support in order to stay eligible and be a part of that team.
“That increase in Zone members, we’re happy with it because shows our program is really catching on and it shows we are able to reach more of the student athletes from the academic side.”
Campbell also noted that the numbers are not final because some "incompletes" will be resolved this term.
Nevertheless, one area of improvement was eligibility among football players at exam schools, which increased from 85 percent to 98 percent this fall.
“That was something we were very happy about, something we were very happy about four our facilitators at those schools,” Campbell said.
The real stars of the report were female athletes as 99 percent of all exam school female soccer players, 93 percent of exam school cheerleaders and 92 percent of exam school volleyball players remained eligible this fall.
At non-exam schools girls had a 91 percent eligibility rate in both soccer and volleyball.
Girls also maintained high academic standards despite seeing a 14.1 percent jump in soccer participation from last fall and a 16.2 percent jump in girls volleyball participation.
The lowest eligibility rate (75 percent), however, was among cheerleaders at non-exam schools, who with a 75 percent eligibility rate fared slightly worse than football players at non-exam schools (78 percent).
“We have to continue to target those girls and make sure we get to them in the preseason and into the Zone,” BSA Executive Director Rebekah Splaine Salwasser said during a telephone interview. “Fall is always tough because you come right in [from summer break] and start a sport and it’s a cumulative of grades [that determines eligibility.]
“We have to do a better job this winter and spring making sure their cumulative GPA keeps them eligible for the fall.”
The BSA also saw an increase in participation in its preseason clinics with a total of 1,653 athletes taking part in those clinics. The BSA has also made a concerted effort to make sure that both girls and boys sports have an equal number of clinics and combines.
"Every athlete in the city, and coach, has had an opportunity to participate in a sports specific clinic as well as our general summer fitness clinic," Campbell said.
Boston English High is searching for just its third head football coach in 38 years after Chris Boswell was released from the position last month.
Former Natick High coach Tom Lamb, an assistant at English the past few seasons, is leading the search. Lamb, a member of the Massachusetts High School Football Coaches Hall of Fame, said he is trying to keep the players in the weight room and in study hall until a new coach is hired.
“I’m hoping to stay a part of the program,” Lamb said during a telephone interview Thursday afternoon. “I’m trying to be that consistent piece right now to hold them into football, keep them involved. … I wish I was younger because I have the spirit but I’m in a situation where I enjoy helping a lot but we’re looking for a younger coach for the future.
“Bos did a nice job and the kids loved him. We made some progress but it didn’t work out.”
Boswell, who went 4-27 over three seasons after replacing the retired Keith Parker, said he was released from his duties Dec. 17.
“It is what it is, I’m not vengeful or upset,” Boswell said. “It was a great opportunity and a lot of fun. I wanted to stay.”
English finished this past season 3-7 after a 44-15 loss to rival Boston Latin on
Thanksgiving Day at Harvard Stadium.
The program seemed to be on the mend earlier in the year. There was a 14-6 victory over New Mission, a first-year program. The following week, English shut out South Boston, 14-0, followed by a spirited 22-14 overtime loss to O’Bryant. English bounced back to beat Charlestown, 38-8, before losing, 6-0, to Madison Park — a team that lost in the Super Bowl.
Boswell, who has taught physical education the last four years at the Edison K-8 School, was a longtime assistant coach at Thayer Academy before taking his first head coaching job at English. He said he might land an assistant job in the fall or take a season off from coaching.
Lamb said anyone interested in applying for the Boston English job should e-mail a cover letter and resume to Lamb621@yahoo.com and to the school’s athletic coordinator, Barry Robinson, at email@example.com.
“We made a small step [last season] and we’ll see if we can make another major step,” Lamb said. “So we’re trying not to be too specific. We’re looking for a real good coach to take us to the next level. You don’t want to get too specific in details because good coaches come from all kinds of backgrounds.”
Robinson said he's looking for a coach who can improve the program's lackluster headcount over the last few seasons.
"I would like to see whoever comes in, to be honest with you, show me 30 to 40 boys," Robinson said. "Can it happen? Sure, it can happen but it's going to take a tremendous amount of work. We need someone who is energetic and can beat the bush, roll up their sleeves and recruit within the building.
"We have to have someone who can build the program, someone who is innovative and just willing to get down in the trenches and build a program. It doesn't matter if they have city experience, suburban experience, or country experience. A football coach is a football coach."
The games will also be aired regularly on BNN (Comcast channel 23, RCN channel 83).
The schedule (which is subject to change) is as follows:
Friday, Jan. 11: New Mission at Madison Park- Boys 6 p.m.
Friday, Jan. 18: Excel at Fenway- Girls 6 p.m.
Thursday, Jan. 24: Cambridge R&L at Madison Park- Girls 6 p.m.
Thursday, Jan. 31: East Boston at Charlestown- Boys 7 p.m.
Friday, Feb. 8: Brighton at English- Boys 7 p.m.
Friday, Feb. 15: New Mission at Latin Academy- Boys 5 p.m.
Friday, Feb. 22: Boston City Championships- Girls and Boys TBA
After playing his first home game at New Mission High, it didn’t take long for Juwan Gooding to realize he wasn’t in the suburbs anymore.
“Milton is a good school and all but the basketball team has no school spirit there,” said the sophomore who transferred from Milton High said after the Titans packed the house New Mission's first home game.
“Here, you have more spirit. Everyone comes to watch your games," Gooding said. "It’s fun and it's exciting.”
In his first home game last month against Burke, Gooding was rattled by the boisterous crowd at the school's new facility in the Hyde Park complex. But the lefthanded point guard has settled in nicely since.
Through the first six games of the season Gooding is averaging 17 points, 5 assists, 6 rebounds and 3 steals per game for the Titans (4-3). Besides a 79-70 road loss to Brighton, New Mission has only lost to Christ the King (N.Y.) and Windsor (Conn.) in holiday tournaments. Gooding almost hit a buzzer-beater to send the game against Windsor into overtime.
In fact, he has settled in so quickly after his first home game that he put up 23 points against Charlestown the next night, scoring New Mission's first 11 points of the game. He had five three pointers in the 87-60 victory.
“That kid can shoot, he can shoot it from on the line, beyond the line, great shooter, and he’s going to hurt a lot of teams with that jump shot,” Charlestown coach Edson Cardoso said after the loss. “He reminds me of [my former player] Ronny Fernandez a little bit.”
As a freshman at Milton High, Gooding was a Bay State League All-Star scoring 19 points per game before Gooding and his father, Santiago “Pumpkin” Gooding decided to move to Dorchester and transfer him to a Boston school.
The soft-spoken 17-year-old with dreads tipped in red coloring says he feels more comfortable at New Mission than he did at Milton.
“More competition, more people of my color, my background and stuff,” he said. “It’s a pretty good atmosphere; kids having fun.”
His father said he liked the academics at New Mission.
“Honestly I want to say the competition is a little more tougher but that’s pretty much it,” said the elder Gooding, who coaches in the Boston Neighborhood Basketball League and AAU. “Academics for New Mission are just as good as Milton. … We decided to get him the same type of education but the [quality of basketball is] also why he came over to New Mission.”
The basketball is pretty good at New Mission, too.
New Mission lost in the first round of the Division 2 North tournament by a point to Arlington last year but won back-to-back state championships under coach Cory McCarthy the two previous seasons, first in Division 4 and then in Division 2.
“It wasn’t even really about Cory, it was more so the academics,” the elder Gooding said. “It was more so the academic piece and the academics were good, solid. I looked at their curriculum and I looked at Milton’s curriculum. And actually New Mission's curriculum they offered more honors courses, their curriculum was a little bit better than Milton’s so all around it was a win-win situation for him.
“Cory is definitely a good guy. He puts in a lot of work with the kids and he doesn’t just care about basketball. He cares about life after basketball, too.
As for McCarthy, he said more than anything he is impressed by Gooding’s penchant for defense and desire to win.
“He’s a smart kid,” McCarthy said. “The kid has major game. He bought into what we’re trying to do and he compliments those other guys, [Shaquan Murray] and those other guys and he fit right in. He didn’t come in trying to be a star. He’s not trying to be a star. He wants to win and I respect that.”
About Boston Public Schools Sports BlogMore »
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 email@example.com. Follow him on his Twitter @butler_globe.