BROCKTON, Mass. -– The Brockton Boxers wasted no time sprinting out of the gates in their contest with visiting Mansfield, with an 18-2 run to start the game.
Fueled over that span by eight points from Jahleel Moise and seven from Jean Thomas, they never looked back, knocking out the Hornets, 69-48.
“We played great at the start of the game,” said Brockton head coach Bob Boen. “We came out and played tough defense, we got the very big lead, I think we maybe made Mansfield lose a little bit of confidence there. They are a very good team. After that, it was kind of a struggle, back-and-forth, pretty even game. But we never let them get back in striking range.”
Brockton (12-1) again received a solid effort from 6-foot-6 senior center Sayvonn Houston, who recorded his second straight double-double with 18 points and 13 rebounds. When Mansfield (10-6) pulled to within 11 in the second quarter, Houston showed off his elite talent by heaving a full-court pass to a streaking Moise, who slammed it home.
“What really worked for us was inside and playing tough defense on them,” Houston said. “We know that everyone on that team can shoot. We had to get out and harass the shooters and get back on defense.”
After Houston’s court-long pass to Moise, he recorded a block on the other end, and then he went on to score the game's next six points to extend the lead back to 19.
“Sayvonn has been big and strong all year,” said Boen. “Again tonight [he] was able to clear himself some space, rebound the ball, and put it back in even he’s being pumped, and pushed and guys are landing on him. He’s strong enough that he can take a hit and still put the ball in the basket.”
The Boxers were able to convert offensive boards into points. Their athleticism showed at the other end, totaling eight blocks, but it really shined through in their transition game. The Hornets were never able to get a break, while the Boxers consistently pushed the ball.
Moise finished with 14 points and three blocks, while Thomas added eight boards.
“Jean’s very active,” Boen added. “He was able to get to a couple balls that maybe Sayvonn got a finger on and they were loose. Jean was able to jump up and get them and lay them back in. I think he got one that he flipped up a quick shot and missed, and Jahleel got it and he missed, and Sayvonn got it and laid it in. Between the three of them, they did a very nice job on the offensive boards.”
Confidence boost: Just two days removed from a thrilling overtime victory over previously-unbeaten Newton North, the Boxers were facing another Division 1 South tournament-bound team. Not only was Brockton able to take down the defending South champions, they were able to take the game by a comfortable margin.
“Well it’s a big game to beat these tournament teams,” said who. “We’re in a stretch here were we’re playing four tournament teams in a row. Each one does something a little different. I told these guys that Mansfield has been to the Boston Garden the last two years so their sort of the top program south of Boston. You have to go and beat them and show people we can beat anybody.”
Houston echoed the sentiments of his coach.
“It’s a really big win and confidence booster,” Houston said. “We knew we had to come here ready to play, you know what I mean, don’t let up. We’re going to keep working hard.”
A Bright Spot: Mansfield was coming off one of its worst shooting performances of the season Friday night against Hockomock rival King Philip. Although the shots weren’t falling in the first quarter, the Hornets were able to keep pace throughout the rest of the game, even outscoring the Boxers in the third quarter.
Mansfield’s Greg Romanko is third on the team in scoring, averaging 9.1 points a game, and finished the game with 14 points –- tied for the team-high with freshman Brendan Hill.
Now the Hornets will return to league play with a chance of securing the Kelley-Rex season crown with wins over Attleboro and Franklin.