It was bound to happen.
Neither coach admitted they wanted it, but another Brighton-New Mission showdown, this time for the Boston City League Championship, was destiny. The schools will meet for the third time this year in the title game on Thursday night at 6:30 at Madison Park High School.
But before setting up the potential matchup, Brighton had to get past South Boston in Wednesday’s semifinals, and it did, 63-53. And New Mission did what it had to do, routing Dorchester, 53-37, to earn a chance to get its first win over the Bengals.
After trailing the first half, Southie went on a 10-0 run to start the third to get within 2. The Bengals fought hard to stay ahead in the third quarter, but the Knights’ bench was the one celebrating when a Jamari Jackson 3-pointer followed by a pair of free throws by Phil Lodge gave them their first lead of the game.
The lead was short-lived. Brighton point guard Malik James tied the game again on a driving layup and senior guard Davion Edwards (17 points) hit a clutch 3-pointer in the fourth to make sure there wouldn’t be another comeback.
Edwards’s basket was followed by back-to-back dunks from 6-foot-4-inch Nick Simpson and 6-6 Prince Unaegbu, allowing the Bengals to take over the momentum and close out the victory.
“We came into today’s game like it could be our last,” said James, who finished with 13 points. “We’re only guaranteed, after this, a couple more games. This could be our last run so we just wanted to get this one out of the way and hopefully win the whole thing.”
With the Bengals’ spot in Thursday’s final secure, it was tough not to talk about whom they would face.
“Whoever we draw it’ll be exciting,” coach Hugh Coleman said as he smiled. “Dorchester beat us so we kind of want to get them back. And New Mission, we kind of want to keep it going.”
Brighton won the first game against New Mission, 79-68, and rallied back from a 20-point deficit in their second encounter to win, 57-52. It wasn’t as if New Mission needed any additional motivation, but knowing a third shot at Brighton was looming certainly helped its energy level as it rolled past Dorchester.
From the opening tip the Titans, led by sophomore guard Juwan Gooding, simply outhustled the Bears. New Mission had a 13-2 lead halfway through the first, a 24-9 lead midway through the second, and a 41-21 advantage toward the end of the third.
Gooding was held scoreless in the third quarter but finished with 21 points. Shaquan Murray added 9 points.
“Nobody wanted us to be here, as usual, but it’s good to get a city tournament win because I usually don’t get those,” said coach Cory McCarthy, who is hoping the third time is a charm for New Mission.