EVERETT, Mass. -- When the single elimination state tournaments begin, teams look for any form of motivation they can to help it achieve its ultimate goal. Before its 80-43 victory over Malden in the opening round of the Division 1 North playoffs, Everett was no different.
“The kids were greatly motivated,” said Everett coach John DiBiaso. “I just want to thank my friend [ESPN Boston High Schools editor] Brendan Hall for picking us to lose and that motivated them a lot. They were very emotional. They felt like they were disrespected, they were the league champs and were picked to lose, one and done. Tell him thanks.”
The Everett players wanted to use the game to not only make a statement against a fellow Greater Boston League team, but the rest of the state as the playoffs get underway.
“We felt we got no credit, no one’s giving us credit,” said senior Timmance McKinney (25 points, four steals). “We put a chip on our shoulder. We talked about it yesterday, that we felt like we were really underrated, and we just came out here and played hard.”
Everett (17-4) played like a team that was not willing to end its season just yet. Things started going downhill for Malden in the first quarter when Jordan McAfee hit a three to make the score 13-5. Malden called a timeout, but Everett continued its attack on both ends of the floor.
For seven minutes spanning parts of both the first and second quarters, it allowed Malden (10-11) to score only one point. By that point, Everett had jumped out to a 25-5 lead.
“We’ve got a lot of depth. We play 11 guys and I feel like Malden played about 6,” said McKinney. “That definitely plays a big part in the game. We’ve got a lot of depth so we were able to wear them down.”
Everett took a 41-18 lead into halftime and did not allow that lead to slip in the second half. Malden made its loudest offensive impact three minutes into the third quarter when Bryan Mitchell-Rodriguez (10 points, 8 rebounds) posterized an Everett defender, throwing down a left-handed dunk in traffic. The dunk sent Malden fans into a frenzy, but the shock and awe quickly wore off when its team went down by 30 points later in the quarter.
Tuesday was a vastly different result from the first two times the Greater Boston League rivals played each other this season. Less than a month ago, on Jan. 31, Malden beat Everett 59-51. On Valentine’s Day, Everett avenged that loss with a 57-44 victory. This time around, it was not even close.
“The biggest difference between tonight and those games is tonight they played as a team and played very unselfish,” said DiBiaso. “They made the extra pass and I thought we played fantastic on the ball defense. We got back on defense, we didn’t give up any easy hoops. For a lot of the first half, they were in single digits.”
Chatman (ankle) leaves game: Ten seconds into the game, Everett lost its starting point guard Ernie Chatman. The Crimson Tide recovered the opening tipoff and set up its offense. Chatman hit a jump shot from the right wing and immediately fell down holding his ankle. He was carried off the floor by teammates and did not return to the game. The extent of his injury was unknown immediately after the game.
“I have no idea (the extent of the injury),” said DiBiaso. “We’ve got him on ice. We’re probably not going to know until later tomorrow or maybe the day after.”
Whether Chatman is able to play Friday or not, Everett will be back on its home floor Friday to play another GBL foe, Somerville, in the quarterfinals of the Division 1 North playoffs. Somerville defeated East Boston 56-45 Tuesday night to advance.
“We need Ernie,” said McKinney. “That’s our point guard. We go when he goes, but we’ll have to play without him if he’s not well.”
Lubern Figaro, the Wisconsin football commit, stepped up in Chatman’s absence, finishing the game with 11 points and 7 rebounds. Ridley Renois was also active on the glass with 9 rebounds in the game.