ROXBURY, Mass. –- Samir McDaniels went ballistic tonight.
Five steals and a block, four assists and 18 points (including 8-of-12 from the line) was the top stat for New Mission, as the Titans walked away with a 65-45 win over West Roxbury at the Tobin Community Center.
“He’s the guy that we look to for our big baskets,” New Mission head coach Cory McCarthy said. “He’s the guy that we look to, to set the New Mission, rough-and-tumble attitude that we have. His game, his ugly game, always helps us play the style of basketball we like. He is the epitome of what we teach.
In the fourth quarter, on a free throw attempt, McDaniels was lined up and got pushed. He pushed back, physically to show he was not to be tested, he pushed back with his skill, dropping eight of his 18 points in the quarter.
“Mentally tough,” said McCarthy. “I thought he was so tough inside. The thing about it is that he can do that against anybody. I don’t care how tall you are, he’s going to get the rebound, he’s going to put it back in, he’s going to block your shot…”
“They were ready for us this time,” said West Roxbury coach Martin Somers, referencing the teams’ first meeting this season on December 17th, 2010. The second game of the season for the Raiders and third for New Mission, New Mission won 68-62 in overtime, but Somers felt they had a mental edge and an element of surprise for McCarthy and his crew before their first match.
“I think they underestimated us,” Somers said. “We could have won that one, but we missed our shot. Tonight, they out hustled us and out toughed us.”
One of the hardest hustlers tonight was Kachi Nzerem who scored 15 points and had five rebounds. The most impressive of those rebounds came in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter when coach McCarthy had his players back up to West Roxbury’s three-point line with the game well out of reach. Nzerem was on the New Mission (10-3) end of the court alone with four Raiders (8-4). He made the first shot but missed the second. Off the block, he got in between and past the Westie potential rebounders, got his own rebound, put the ball up and scored.
“You never take plays off, you’ve always got to score,” Nzerem said matter-of-factly. “You should never take a play off because it could become a bad habit. I am always hungry, so I always want to score.”
The hunger is something that coach McCarthy recognizes in Nzerem, and although he is not a praise-heavy coach, the play he saw tonight impressed him.
“I usually dog him, but he will get the unsung hero award for tonight,” McCarthy said. “I don’t really do player of the game, but I like the way he played tonight.
“He had some lapses on defense,” added McCarthy doling out his serving of humble pie, “but he played the game I wanted him to play. He played above the rim. I say very few nice things to these guys, but I’ll tell him that he played well tonight.”
Relatively content with tonight’s win, McCarthy is getting what he expects out of his seniors, but he is not settled with his team’s play.
“When you have seniors, they’re supposed to close it out, but we need more going towards the state tournament.”