As the city league boys’ tournament approaches, the hype around a potential rematch between Brighton and New Mission rises. However, the coach of the top-seeded Tigers sees the tournament as just another opportunity for his players to improve.
“The ultimate goal is a state title and we’ve got to win each game that we play,” Brighton coach Hugh Coleman said. “I know other people might make a big deal out of it [but] to myself and [New Mission coach Cory McCarthy] it’s another game.”
The semifinals begin Wednesday when South Boston tips off against Brighton at 4 p.m., followed by Dorchester playing New Mission at 5:30 p.m. The championship game is Thursday at 6:30 p.m. All games are at Madison Park.
While Brighton swept New Mission in the regular season, both games were close. After beating the Titans, 79-68, Dec. 20, Brighton rallied from a 20-point deficit in the fourth quarter to beat New Mission, 57-52, Jan. 31.
“Maybe to the guys, maybe to the school and the city of Boston it would mean a lot because we’ve actually built up a pretty good rivalry the last couple of years,” said Coleman, whose team is coming off an upset of previously undefeated and top-ranked Danvers in the Comcast tournament.
Regardless, both teams must win their semifinals for the rematch to occur and Coleman said that even though New Mission was the next best team in the North, the Central and South division champions can’t be counted out.
“We have a little rivalry [with Dorchester] that maybe people don’t know about. We’ve had a lot of battles the past few years,” said Coleman, whose team lost to Dorchester Friday night.
“I don’t think it could be a better setup for us whether it’s them or New Mission and you don’t want to overlook South Boston.”
If they make it to the championship, the Tigers will have to penetrate against zone defenses better than they have recently if they have any hope of winning.
Coleman described how in his team’s last games against New Mission and Dorchester the zone defense staggered his offense.
“I really just want us to get better on what we do mentally and then strategically on the court,” Coleman said.
One player that will help Brighton penetrate the zone is senior Malik James. When asked if there was a player that needed to step up in cities, Coleman did not hesitate in highlighting the point guard.
“I’ve described him the last couple of years as kind of like our [Rajon] Rondo,’’ said Coleman. “We need him to facilitate, we need him to be able to get the ball to the right people, we need him to be able to take over when he has that opportunity.”
Still, for Brighton, as well as Dorchester and New Mission, the tournament represents just a small step to a much bigger goal.
“What we’re trying to infuse in them is that we got to get better and we’re coming to a point of no return where once the state tournament comes, it’s survive and advance; win or go home,” Coleman said.
MVC makeup game
The action isn’t limited to the city league this week. Merrimack Valley Conference powers Central Catholic and Lowell meet Wednesday at 7 p.m. The game was originally scheduled for Feb. 8 and was postponed by the snowstorm . . . Pairings for the MIAA tournament come out Friday afternoon.