BOSTON — BC High head coach Bill Loughnane wanted his team to be mentally tough and battle for every possession against Catholic Conference foe Catholic Memorial, and that’s exactly what he got.
The Eagles survived with a 61-59 victory last night in a physical showdown -- not to mention sloppy, with both teams recording over 20 turnovers -- for league supremacy last night at McNeice Pavilion. BC High now sits undefeated in the Catholic Conference and 9-2 overall, while the Knights bump down a spot with an 8-2 mark.
“We just told our kids to battle one possession at a time,” said Loughnane. “We know that they are good and we know that they have good players, but we just had to battle. We had to play our game and our guys did a nice job.”
The waters of the Catholic Conference are murky this season, and it will be one of those years when the front-runner probably won’t be decided until February. But both of these teams will be a part of the mix with deep, talented rosters, and Knights coach Denis Tobin knows more than one matchup between the two schools could potentially be on the horizon down the road.
“It’s a good learning experience,” said Tobin. “We play in a couple of weeks in our gym, so we will see what happens. They are a very good team, though. I told my guys that I wouldn’t be surprised if we end up playing them two more times, not just the one more time in the league.”
Jones erupts in second half: Junior guard Jameilen Jones was held in check during the fist half, but he erupted for 20 of his team-high 24 points in the final 16 minutes of the game. He did his best work in the deciding quarter with the Eagles facing a two-possession deficit.
Jones (11 points in the fourth) tipped in his own missed shot, and he was fouled after driving hard to the rack for the hoop and the harm on the next possession. That give the Eagles their first lead of the second half, 52-51, with 3:22 left to go in the game.
“We wanted to get to the free throw line and get some easy baskets,” said Jones. “We were breaking the press pretty well (in the second half) and me and (Charles Collins) wanted to get the ball up court and get some easy baskets.”
Jones would finish off the streak of eight-straight points with a 3-pointer to turn a four-point deficit into a four-point lead, 55-51.
“He’s our best player and we need him to play that well for us to win,” said Loughnane.
Testy finish: The gripes will come from both sides of the court, but both coaches preached mental toughness out of their teams no matter which way the whistles were blowing in the final moments of the game.
Dan Powers was called for a technical foul after blocking an Eagles’ shot, and Jones went to the line to stretch the lead to six with under a minute left to play.
The Eagles then were called for a foul before the ball was put into play giving Matt Droney (21 points, nine rebounds, seven steals) two free throws, which he successfully knocked down.
Collins was again called for a foul before the ball could be put into play and Droney found Gerard Adams on the baseline to cut the lead to 59-57. The Knights had an Eagles player trapped on the sideline in the backcourt, but Armani Reeves was whistled for a foul giving Jones a chance to hit 1-of-2 from the line. Aamahne Santos put in a bucket off the glass down low with 8.7 seconds left to go in the game, and after Oderah Obukwelu hit 1-of-2 from the line, Reeves last attempt was short at the buzzer.
Knights so cold: The outside shot, coupled with their ability to make quick turnovers out of their pressure defense, has been a staple in gaining separation from opponents, case in point their win over St. John’s Prep and the way they closed out the first and second quarter against BC High.
But the shots weren’t falling in the wide-open area that is McNeice Pavilion in the second half for the Knights.
CM finished 1-of-12 from behind the arc in the second half, and only shot 20 percent from distance during the game.
“They have terrific 3-point shooters, and that 3-point shot is a killer,” said Loughnane. “So we just tried to make them bring it to the basket and make them work for everything.”
Added Tobin: “I didn’t think too many of them were contested 3’s. They are shots that we sometimes make. It’s a tough gym to shoot in. They play very well here and I can’t think of one that I would consider a real bad shot off the top of my head.”