Behind a game-high 19 points from senior forward Asante Sandiford, the New Mission boys basketball team defeated Boston City League North rival East Boston, 69-61, Wednesday night on the Titans home court.
New Mission's seven standout senior Titans Sandiford, guards Jared Brown, Kordell Harris, Shaquan Murray and Reylando Rise, and forwards Sochika Nzerem and Frederick Rivers were recognized before tipoff for their contributions to the team.
Those are good guys, New Mission coach Cory McCarthy said. Ive had a lot of good kids come through this door but the most important thing is all seven of those guys have been accepted to four-year schools and will go to college. Their contribution off the court is greater to our program than what they did on the court tonight.
In addition to Sandifords 19, Murray finished with 15 points and Rivers chipped in 12.
After the first quarter, East Boston held a slim 15-14 lead over the Titans. New Mission battled back in the second quarter and took a 23-18 lead behind aggressive play from Rivers and sophomore guard Tyrique Lee.
McCarthy said Lee and Harris were the unsung heroes Wednesday, holding East Bostons leading scorer, junior guard Dion Knight, to just 15 points.
The rest of our defense wasnt great, but those guys, Kordell and Tyrique, really came to play and showed up for us, McCarthy said.
At halftime, the Titans led, 35-31.
New Mission continued to lead throughout the third quarter, until Jets junior forward Kevin Sinatra, who finished with 14 points, nailed two 3-pointers as the frame came to a close to give East Boston a 50-47 advantage.
Sandiford kicked off the final eight minutes with a lay-in to cut into East Bostons lead. After the two teams traded buckets, Sandiford scored under the rim and drew a foul. He sank the free throw to complete the 3-point play and tie the game at 54.
I didnt feel I had to lead the charge, we all lead the charge as a team, Sandiford said. I just made big plays at the end. I found some openings and I just hit big shots like any other of my teammates do.
After Sandiford tied the game for New Mission, Lee sank a wide-open 3 from way behind the arc to give the Titans the lead. Despite East Bostons valiant attempt at a comeback, New Missions defense held on to the lead.
Sandiford sealed the win at the stripe, hitting three free throws after taking two Jets intentional fouls. He then closed out the game with a lay-up.
I think he really came out and he showed what kind of physical presence he has inside, McCarthy said of Sandiford. These are high school boys, and Asante is built like a man. Hes a man. He was a man in the fourth quarter and the end of the third quarter and it worked out for us because he was able to get to his left hand, get to the left side of the basket where he does his most work.
New Mission improved to 15-2 with Wednesdays victory. The Titans will head into next weeks City League championships as the team to beat, but McCarthy said his only focus is on the state tournament.
I dont really care about the cities. The cities are for the kids, McCarthy said. So Ill treat it like were going to an amusement park. You know, like Im taking the kids out for a walk or something. So well be there, well show up, but our main focus at New Mission is always the state tournament and were trying to get ready.
Sandiford said he is also focused on the state tournament and is confident that New Mission will play deep into the postseason.
Were looking to win it all. If we stay together, we keep our composure as a team we will win it all, Sandiford said. Were looking to win the city championship, the state championship. We just want to have a great year. We want to win our last game. We want to win our last game and our last game will be at the DCU center.