Sitting in the eighth row of the bleachers in the far corner of Madison Park’s gymnasium on Tuesday night, New Mission boys’ basketball coach Cory McCarthy and Brighton boys’ basketball coach Hugh Coleman watched as McCarthy’s former team defeated Coleman’s wife’s team in the semifinals of the Boston City League girls’ tournament.
For McCarthy -- who will coach New Mission’s boys’ team in the city tournament Wednesday night against South Boston -- it was good to see the Titans' girls make it back to the city championship game by defeating Latin Academy, 43-18, for the first time since they won back-to-back city titles in 2009 and 2010.
For Coleman -- who will coach Brighton's boys against Dorchester in the city semis Wednesday night -- it was good to see his wife, Emily Hunter-Coleman's team get some experience in the city tournament. (The Dragons,14-5, qualified for the city tournament after Fenway forfeited four games for playing JV players for too many minutes in varsity games.)
“You know what, my wife is a realist, my wife understands that you know Fenway made some mistakes and they ended up fortunately making it,” Coleman said. “So she understands they are going to go out and give it their all. New Mission girls are pretty good, she knows that Fenway girls are pretty good, she knows that O’Bryant girls are on the rise and they are going to come out here and play and give it their best."
New Mission (15-5) got a game-high 13 points from Deandra Humphries and 8 points from junior guard Jazala Laracuente, who nailed two 3-pointers during the opening 17-2 run.
The Titans will face O’Bryant in the championship game at 5 p.m. on Thursday. O'Bryant defeated South Boston, 54-28, in Tuesday’s first semifinal.
This is the sixth straight year that New Mission has played in the city tournament.
“It’s exciting to be able to follow in Cory’s footsteps,” said New Mission coach Briana Forde, who played for the Burke when she attended high school. “I think he’s done a lot for the New Mission High School, on the boys’ and girls’ side, so it’s exciting to be a part of this program. But I think overall my love for girls’ basketball and the sport in general it’s just great to be able to come back and give back.
“It’s definitely a pleasure and the girls are great to work with and they make me happy to come to work.”
McCarthy said this year’s girls’ team is not necessarily the most talented since the program was started in 2003 but they are the most united.
“I do a lot to encourage team bonding,” Forde said. “I talk to them a lot about being friends off the court and not so much being friends, but just respecting each other. I think it took until later on into the season for them to wrap their brains around it but I think the more they are able to gel off the court the more they are able to see it on the court.”
This is also the first season that New Mission is not only housed in the former Hyde Park Education Complex but also the first year they are combined with Boston Community Leadership Academy.
“The BCLA merger with New Mission has paid dividends because now our numbers are up,” said McCarthy, who is also the school’s athletic coordinator. “Back in the day I had six girls. Now we have a JV and a varsity and we could probably have a freshman team if we wanted to. And that’s a sign of growth and your reputation for success on this level will help.”
And that’s exactly what second-year Latin Academy coach, Hunter-Coleman, is trying to do after her team went 11-9 last year and lost in the second round of the state tournament. She said the biggest thing her squad took from playing in the city tournament was getting a feel for how aggressive they need to play to win.
“Going for those loose balls, just being able to dive, and certain fundamentals of
basketball,” she said. “They were nervous, this particular group has never experienced the [city tournament]. Due to those [Fenway] forfeits that put us in a position to have to play, I wouldn’t necessarily say we were quite ready for it. But we were ready for the opportunity. I just said ‘Play your hardest, give it your all, and wherever the chips may fall they will fall.’"
After the game, Hunter-Coleman said she was ready to turn back into a wife and the Brighton boys’ team’s No. 1 supporter as they get set to play South Boston at 4 p.m. on Wednesday at Madison Park before New Mission plays Dorchester in the second semifinal at 5:30 p.m.
And just like McCarthy and Coleman, Hunter-Coleman predicted that Dorchester is going to make some waves on the guys’ side of the tournament.
“I’m hearing there’s this clash of the titans with Brighton and New Mission but they better not sleep on Dorchester,” Hunter-Coleman said. “I say that because I know that much, Dorchester is that up and coming team.”
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