READING, Mass. -- Charlestown head coach Edson Cardoso was looking for more assertion on the defensive end in the second half of the Townies' Comcast/IAABO Board 27 Basketball Classic semifinal against BC High.
His players listened -- they held BC High without a field goal in the third quarter.
Then at the end, with the Townies picking up steam, Cardoso wanted more dribble penetration from his star junior swingman Tyrese Hoxter. Cardoso again got his wishes -- but not before getting goosebumps for a few moments.
Hoxter scored eight points over a span of three offensive possessions with under three minutes to go, giving the Townies the lead for good, but not before hanging by a thread. They watched as Eagles star Jameilen Jones got two good looks with under 15 seconds remaining, then exhaled after he missed both, earning a tough 46-45 comeback victory at Reading High's Hawkes Field House.
"I think everybody in the gym thought it was going in," BC High head coach Bill Loughnane said of Jones' final shot, a 20-footer from the top of the key off a long inbounds pass. "When it left his hands, it looked good. After that second bounce, unfortunately, it took a wrong bounce."
Said Hoxter, "Coach told us not to let up, just keep fighting through it. It was a long three minutes, it felt like it was longer than that, but we knew we could pull through it."
After holding the Eagles (13-5) without a field goal in the third quarter, thanks to some stingy 2-3 zone defense, the Townies (15-4) made their push in the final five minutes, going right through the heart of Loughnane's patented 1-3-1 zone.
It started with Hoxter (28 points), who was called for a charge, but saw his fortunes reverse quickly when a BC High player was called for a technical foul for some choice words a few seconds later. Omar Orriols sank the ensuing free throws to cut BC's lead to 39-37.
With 3:10 to go, Hoxter hit his first of two back-to-back free throws, this one from the left wing to tie it at 41-41. The next trip down, Hoxter lined up at the same exact spot and went through the same motion -- a quick pass across the perimeter to senior point guard Rony Fernandez (five assists), who hesitated then threw it back his way -- to make it 44-43.
The next trip down, Hoxter gathered at the right wing, drove through traffic and switched hands mid-air for one of his trademark windmill layups to make it 46-43. That gave him an impressive eight points in three consecutive touches; but it was also the final basket of the night for Charlestown.
"I had the confidence in my shot, and they [weren't] closing out on me quick enough," Hoxter said. "So I just let it fly."
Cardoso said it's the first time Hoxter hit back-to-back three's in a Charlestown uniform, so understandably the shot selection might have unnerved him a bit.
"We'll take it, but we were really looking for him to penetrate that top guy in the zone, throw Rony on the strong side," Cardoso said. "And once Rony's man yielded to Tyrese, to kick to Rony or drive."
He continued, chuckling, "My heart was beating real fast when he was taking those three's. But, he's a scorer, I think he took it with confidence and thought he was going to make it. I wasn't mad at him for making it."
Jones (11 points) missed a runner through the middle of the paint with under 15 seconds to go, and Orriols was there for the board, picking up a foul in the process. BC's Justin Roberts was there for the rebound when Orriols missed the front end of a one-and-one, giving Jones one final look at the basket that very nearly was a game-winner.
Jackson gives it a go: Contributing to the Townies' loss to Madison Park last Tuesday, which cost them the final spot in the Boston City Championship tournament this week, was injury of Tyrik Jackson, who sprained his right ankle.
The 6-foot-6 Jackson runs the floor well for a player his size, and does well catching and driving from the elbow. But a noticeable limp gave him limited mobility tonight, and thus he was relegated to the space around the basket.
Battling with Roberts and Oderah Obukwelu underneath, Jackson gave it a solid 17 minutes and played a big contribution to holding the Eagles without a field goal in the third quarter -- "When he was in there, he made a big difference for them," Loughnane noted.
Jackson finished with four rebounds, but made players entering the lane work for their buckets in what was a grueling defensive game.
"It shows some heart," Cardoso said. "I called him this morning and asked if he was alright. He said, 'Yeah Coach, I'll try and give it my best'. I said, 'If you can, yeah, great, if not rest for the state tournament'. But credit to him, he wanted to be out here with his teammates. I thought he gave us some solid minutes tonight."
NO. 1 BROCKTON 85, CAMBRIDGE 55
Sitting deadlocked at 22-22 after one quarter of play, the Boxers (16-1) quickly kicked it into high gear, leading 44-27 at the break and 63-37 after three quarters. Jaylen Blakely led the way with 23 points in the win, aided by a 4-for-5 effort from three-point range. Jamal Reuben added 18 points, while senior center Sayvonn Houston added 12.
Senior guard Edirson Correia led the Falcons (12-7) with 13 points in the loss.