BOSTON, Mass. — Brockton will make its much-anticipated return to the Garden floor as the top-seeded Boxers displaced No. 2 seed Madison Park (19-3) with a 57-48 victory last night in the Div. 1 South finals at the Clark Athletic Center on the campus of UMass Boston.
The Boxers (22-2) held the Cardinals to 15 field goals at a 27.8 percent clip for the game, and clamped down hard in the final minute to set up a date with Charlestown, which knocked off Lexington in tonight's Div. 1 North final in Lowell, on Monday night.
“We’ve been waiting for a team like this to play defense against,” said Boxers head coach Bob Boen. “My big guys are getting tired of covering those 3-point players. They were very happy that they could stay in that lane and help out in what I call ‘normal’ defense with ‘normal’ help positions, instead of chasing guys out on the 3-point line.”
Sayvonn Houston had 13 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks while holding Cardinals’ big man Dakim Murray to eight points — seven of those coming in the first half.
“I just had to keep my hands up,” said the 6-foot-6 Houston. “They have a lot of size and rebounders, so I knew I had to get in position, box out and rebound.”
Will Baker, Jaylen Blakely and Jamal Reuben took care of the perimeter defense as they got in the passing lane on sever plays in the final two-plus minutes of regulation.
“We just wanted to get to every ball,” said Baker. “Coach told us to work hard and we just wanted to play aggressively. That’s what coach told us right before the game and that was the game plan.”
Stewart in Foul Trouble: David Stewart has meant so much to Madison Park on the defensive and offensive ends of the court this season, and in the biggest game of the season he could only sit and watch for the majority of the game with foul trouble.
He picked up two fouls in the first half and picked up two more in the third quarter a good 80 feet from his own basket to slow down any kind of flow he had with his game.
“Foul trouble and a couple of chippy fouls," said Cardinals head coach Dennis Wilson. "I wasn’t happy about that.”
Boen was planning on taking on both Murray and Stewart for the majority of the game, especially after seeing the success the two had against Franklin in the first half of the previous round.
“They needed both of their big guys,” said Boen. “Both big guys together were giving us a lot of trouble. When one or the other was out we relaxed a little, and we relaxed a little bit too much I think.”
When Stewart was able to stay in the game he made all the difference for Madison Park to keep things close. Stewart had 10 of the Cardinals 11 points in the third quarter and he finished with 16 in the second half after only having a single free throw in the first half.
Baker Steps Up: Baker might be the second point guard that comes into the game for the Boxers, but the ball was left in his hands in the second half as his team was trying to stave off the Cardinals.
“He got the game moving. We got off to a good start, we slowed down and then William came in and got us rolling again.”
Added Baker: “That’s what my role is. My role is to get opportunity for teammates when they are open.”
Baker -- who also added seven assists and four steals — picked off a pass on the opening possession of the second quarter and put it off the glass on the other end. Baker also set up Drew Fiske for a 3-pointer off a good dribble penetration and found Houston a couple times in the second half as he was able to create off the dribble.