ROXBURY, Mass. -- Up two points in the final second of another heated battle with East Boston, the Madison Park's boys' basketball team looked to have finally found the edge against its crosstown rival.
With the home crowd chanting its goodbyes, Cardinals junior Johnny Bowden strolled to the line to shoot his third and final free throw and try to send the MP Machine to its first victory in six matchups with division foe East Boston.
In a matter of one second, the Jets' Pat Santos grabbed the rebound of the missed foul shot and in the same motion, launched a desperation shot the full length of the court that somehow went in off the middle of the backboard and left the crowd in awe, with Eastie miraculously winning, 43-42.
(You'll be in awe too: CLICK HERE to see video of the shot from the Boston Herald.)
“Three years since I have been (at Madison Park) it has always been tough,” said Santos. “We always have to have faith even with (one second) left. You don't have time to think (just) get the ball and shoot.”
Winning on a buzzer-beater from its senior guard, No. 12 East Boston (4-0, 2-0) bested host No. 19 Madison Park (1-1, 1-1), 43-42, in battle of City League (Division A).
The Cardinals looked to have sealed the victory in the final seconds when junior Jaylen Bell bounce-passed to Bowden, who drew a three-shot foul opportunity off a blocked attempt from Eastie senior Will March along the end line. Bowden took his time to drain the first two attempts for a 42-40 lead, then lobbed the ball off the back rim.
“The kid has got the biggest heart in the gym,” MP coach Dennis Wilson said. “He made plays down the end that got us ahead. (He made) the baseline jumper, the baseline floater, (and) two shots to put us ahead.”
Madison Park scored 12 straight, including six points from senior David Stewart (13 points, eight rebounds), to grab its first lead of the game and go into the final quarter up 32-29. Sophomore Mike Benitez just beat the shot clock on a jumper to start the run down 29-20 with 4:34 left in the third, while Bowden (13 points) rolled in a layup then stole the ball in Jets' territory to set up a two-on-one score from Bell to Stewart for the 30-29 advantage.
A layup by junior Kamauree Williams finished the streak for Division 1 South runner-ups with 30 seconds left in the third.
“We played tough defense,” Wilson said. “They are not a very good shooting team so we went into a zone and made them stop penetration and shoot contested jump shots.”
A corner-of-the-arc tre from Benitez and free throw by senior Kenny Ramos finished a seven-point run by Eastie to open the fourth quarter up 37-32 at 5:28. Four points and an assist from Bowden put the Cardinals ahead for a second time up 40-39 with 1:30 left. Sophomore Rasheed Bell hit one-of-two from the line to even the game with 12 seconds remaining.
Bell lead the Jets with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Ramos finished with nine points and grabbed six rebounds, while Santos netted 10 points and wrestled four rebounds.
“Rasheed is our offensive attacker,” said first-year East Boston coach Shawn Brown. “He has untapped potential when it comes in terms of offense. He is the one person outside of Kenny that we have to go to (when it comes to offense) so I think we really feed off Rasheed.”
Eastie scored the first 10 points of the game and led for the initial 23 minutes by forcing turnovers for layups and hitting jumpers in or around the free throw lane. Ramos dipped under a blocker, dropped in a layup and yelled to the crowd as Eastie pulled ahead 10-0 with 2:40 left in the first quarter.
Early free throw misses hurt the Cardinals, who failed their first five attempts and finished two of nine in the first half, but Madison Park rebounded in the second half by making six of seven from the foul line.
“We got out on them early (and) my guys got comfortable,” said Brown. “We talk about not taking anyone lightly. I told them 'Your in a dog fight now'.”
Brown replaced former Jets coach and New Mission dean of students Malcolm Smith, who brought Eastie to a Boston City League tournament championship, an appearance in the Division 1 North quarterfinals, and a City League (North) title last year. The first-year skipper grabbed his first win in the newly formed City League (Division A).
“We always stress that (one play can make a difference), but we hope that it doesn't come down to it,” said Brown. “I am new to it, but just knowing the history and being a Boston public school graduate and player (I know that) with the teams that they put in this conference you can expect that. I think you can look forward to some great games throughout this year.”