EAST BOSTON, Mass. -– Calling this clash of the titans a nail-biter would be an understatement -- maybe even a misnomer.
The largest lead margin on this rainy afternoon was five points, that standing for less than and that was for less than a minute, but the Charlestown fans went up into the air while East Boston fans reached for their keys and sunglasses, as the Townies topped the Jets 61-58 in a Division 1 North quarterfinal -- and the rubber match between these Boston City League archrivals.
“It was a hard fought win and I knew it wasn’t going to be easy,” said Charlestown coach Edson Cardoso.
“I’ve got to eventually win a game at East Boston sometime down the line,” Cardoso told himself in the days leading up to the match. “The guys were very focused, played hard, played for each other and ran our sets to a 'T'."
Junior Tyrone Hoxter went 4-4 from the free throw line in the last 23 seconds of the fourth quarter and Tyrik Jackson had two rebounds and put backs, the first an and-one completion with 2:54 left in the game.
“I though Tyrik Jackson just stepped up played hungry tonight and saved us throughout the game,” Cardoso added.
Eastie’s Zack Gattereau and Charlestown’s Hoxter made and missed one free throw at the line, respectively, then at the two-minute mark, Eastie’s Kyle Fox hit two free throws to tie the game up at 53.
Cardoso asked his team at halftime, "When is someone going to shot-fake, dribble, jump-stop and maybe make a layup?"
Senior Iser Barnes listened, scoring a crucial layup with 1:15 left. The Townies' defense turned up their press defense, forcing an East Boston timeout with 1:25 left, but without a hitch, the Jets’ Kwandell Bush hit a shot later to tie the game up again at 55.
After a missed Charlestown shot, Tyrik Jackson rebounded the ball and put it through the ring with 45 seconds left in the game, nudging the Townies to a 57-55 lead.
Unable to get an easy shot with Charlestown’s in-face defense and intense rebounding efforts, East Boston lost the ball and fouled
Tyrese Hoxter with 23.5 seconds remaining. He hit both shots and gave his side a 59-55 lead. Undeterred, East Boston coach Malcolm Smith called on his gunner, the 6-foot-4 senior Gattereau, to drain a three.
A good look from Fox with 2.5 seconds left made it a one-point game and a chance for East Boston to hit a 2-pointer and win the game, but Hoxter was sent to the line with 1.4 seconds left.
The first shot banged around and eventually made it’s way down the net, but the second shot was smooth, bumping the lead up to 3. Eastie launched a shot at the buzzer, but it sailed wide left.
Slow Cooker: After the game, players and attendees noted how long the fourth quarter felt. In the first five minutes of the fourth quarter, a totals of seven points were scored. The final frame was littered with steals, rebounds, loose ball grabs and throwaways.
“I thought both teams were tired on both ends,” Cardoso said. “Loose balls, boxing out hard, guys are falling on the ground, so I
though both teams were fatigued in the fourth quarter."
In the last three minutes, though, 20 points were made between the two teams, Charlestown winning that split 12-8.
“We run a lot in practice, we did a lot of fast break drills, defensive drills, so I feel our condition helped us pull through," Cardoso said.
Practice Makes Perfect: Hoxter draining those shots at the end of game could be attributed to the work that he puts in during Cardoso’s training sessions.
“As a team, we shoot under 60 percent at the free throw line," Cardoso said. "Yesterday, at practice, we each made thirty free throws before we left the gym."
Up Next: Charlestown awaits the winner of tomorrow's D1 North quarterfinal between Lowell and No. 1 overall seed Central Catholic, with a time and date to be determined.
The Townies' last meeting with Central was a forgettable one. Charlestown had home-court advantage, but succumbed late en route to a 79-71 loss.