Boston High School: Juwan Gooding

With strong young talent, future bright for MIAA hoops

March, 26, 2013
In the biggest game of the year in MIAA hoops, the Division 1 state title game, it seemed as if the sophomores were hitting all the big shots. With hundreds of Mansfield fans directly behind the basket screaming and waving, Putnam sophomore Ty Nichols nailed two free throws with eight seconds left in overtime to seal the Beavers’ first state title in school history.

But let’s not forget how the game got to that point. Rewind to the end of regulation.

Mansfield sophomore Ryan Boulter put on one of the gutsiest performances that we saw all season. After he was fouled on a three-point attempt with five seconds to go in the fourth quarter, Boulter went to the line with an opportunity to tie the game and send it into overtime. Miss one, and his team, in all likelihood, would lose the game.

Not only did Boulter hit all three free throws, he did so without ever taking his eyes off the rim -— not even to catch the bounce passes that came from the referee following each of the first two free throws. He sent the game into overtime, then hit a three-pointer from the wing to give Mansfield the lead.

Following a four point swing by Putnam, Boulter put the team on his back one last time -— draining a three-pointer to tie the game with just seconds to go in overtime. Enter Nichols, and game over.

While Putnam’s entire team circled around their trophy in the pressroom after the game, a few of Mansfield’s players sat across the room waiting to be interviewed. Boulter fought back tears. Brendan Hill -- a sophomore who was Hockomock League MVP and considered to be a Division 1 prospect in both football and basketball -- stared at the floor, head in hands.

While listening for Putnam senior KayJuan Bynum talk about the pride that Springfield has in basketball, I couldn’t help but glance over at Hill and Boulter across the room. Both fierce competitors with unbelievable poise, they sat in the shadows of the pressroom while Putnam’s players hugged each other in celebration.

That was the ringing overtone talked about for days following the state title game: Mansfield will be back.

It was the same reaction seen on the floor of the Tsongas Center only a week earlier. After a crushing defeat to a more experienced Central Catholic team, Lynn English sophomore guard Stevie Collins pulled his jersey over his face as the final buzzer sounded, hiding tears from watching Central Catholic celebrate the Division 1 North championship.

The playoff run was an unexpected one for the Bulldogs, and English can be expected to be back next year. With Collins’ classmates Johnny Hilaire (6-foot-6 forward) and Erick Rosario (6-foot guard) both returning, as well as juniors Freddy Hogan and Danny Lukanda, expect a big run from English once again. The Bulldogs' run to the North final almost wasn’t possible, mainly because of 20 points from Everett sophomore Gary Clark in the quarterfinal match -- a high-scoring, back-and-forth match that left English the 94-87 victors.

English, Putnam, and Mansfield, and Everett are not alone in boasting talented young players, though. Statewide, the MIAA’s depth in the 2015 and 2016 classes is one of the best we have seen in recent memory.



Collins leads a long list of talented floor generals in the 2015 and 2016 classes. Those included (and very close behind him) are Lowell sophomore Kareem Davis, who ignited one of the state’s most exciting offenses this year; New Mission's Randy Glenn, a left-handed playmaker who was pivotal in helping the short-handed Titans make a run to the Boston City League championship; St. Peter-Marian freshman Makai Ashton, a fearless point guard who is considered to be the best long-term guard prospect in the Worcester area; and Melrose frosh Sherron Harris, whose "on-court killer" style of play is scarily similar to his cousin, Cushing Academy star Jalen Adams.

-- St. John's (Shrewsbury) sophomore Davon Jones has more big-game experience than any of the point guards listed above, as he has helped lead Bob Foley’s Pioneer squad to WPI each of the last two years. As mentioned with Hill, Jones is considered to be a Division 1 football prospect.

-- Boston English freshman Ernie Chatman will win a lot of games for Boston English over the next three years, Chatman is a great ballhandler who is also lightning quick and a great floor leader.

-- Along with Glenn and Chatman, Brighton freshman Javaughn Edmonds will make a major impact in the Boston City League in the coming years. Edmonds will be looked to to step in and help fill in some of the production missing from departing ESPN Boston Mr. Basketball Malik James.



There is no question who has the highest ceiling of any player in the MIAA. It is Springfield Central’s 6-foot-8 sophomore Chris Baldwin. A sureshot Division 1 prospect who can block shots, rebound at a high rate, and score in a variety of ways, Baldwin will make sure Central remains one of the state’s best hoops programs after making the Western Mass. Division 1 championship game once again this year.

St. Peter-Marian freshman Greg Kuakumensah will have big shoes to fill next year for the Guardians, especially as they soon graduate forward Tim Berry, the heart and soul of their offense. Kuakumensah, the younger brother of Brown University forward Cedric Kuakumensah, will join Ashton in what should be a very bright future for St. Peter-Marian. At 6-foot-4, he is a great shot blocker like his older brother, but is also tremendous athlete and competitor.

-- SPM isn’t the only squad returning a talented young duo though. Brighton, the Division 2 state champion, will, alongside Edmonds, return 6-foot-5 sophomore forward Jason Jones, who played a lead role in helping the Bengals to their first Boston City League championship.

-- Andover's 6-foot-5 sophomore forward Connor Merinder was limited in minutes this year as he recovered from a severe wrist injury. However, he was able to recover by playoff time and led the Warriors to the Division 1 North semifinals, knocking off Medford and St. John’s Prep in order to do so.

-- For all the attention to the prospects at larger Division 1 and 2 schools, keep an eye on 6-foot-5 sophomore forward Jake Wisniewski out of Quaboag. After averaging over 20 points per game for Quaboag this past year, the already-experienced post scorer is one of the state’s top prospects in Division 3. A talented forward at Division 3 New Leadership, 6-foot-6 freshman Davidson Pacheco, will take his talents elsewhere after averaging 10 points per game this year, what with the expected closing of the Springfield-based charter school.



Newton North sophomore Tommy Mobley was one of the state’s most feared scorers this year, leading the Tigers to a 20-4 record and picking up Bay State Carey MVP. Mobley and St. John’s Prep sophomore guard Ben Judson showed that they can be two of the MIAA’s best scorers again next year. Like Mobley, Judson’s three-point range extends all the way out to 25 feet—as both were known to drop a barrage of three-pointers on opponents this year, heavily guarded or not.

New Mission's Juwan Gooding, New Bedford's Tyree Weston, and Catholic Memorial's Guilien Smith, were all early exits from the state tournament this year. But as three of the MIAA’s most talented pure scorers in the 2015 class, they’ll be back for big runs next year. Smith and Gooding are finesse guys who use their quick first step to get to the rim, while Weston uses his sculpted frame to overpower opponents and score inside-out.

-- One other Springfield product to keep an eye on is Cathedral sophomore Darrick Boyd. The young, talented sharpshooter scored 19 points per game this year, leading Cathedral to a 13-9 record. Danvers sophomore Vinny Clifford, also a dead-eye shooter, will be looked at to be a leader for the two-time defending Division 3 state champion. Clifford, the younger brother of Merrimack College forward Mike Clifford, was an integral piece this year for a team led by Eric Martin, Nick Bates, and Nick McKenna.

-- Yet another two-sport star, Wakefield sophomore Bruce Brown, helped the Warriors make a deep run in the Division 2 North tournament this year, eventually falling to a deeper, more experienced North Andover team. Brown is an elite athlete who, at his best, is nearly unstoppable because of his upper body strength. On the football field, Brown caught seven touchdown passes as a wide receiver last fall.

-- Two 14-seed over 3-seed upsets in the first round of the Division 1 North tournament should be remembered going forward. Freshman Saul Phiri’s heroics in a first-round upset win helped lead Haverhill past Westford Academy, while frosh Keyshaad Dixon’s three-pointers sparked perhaps the most surprising win of the first round, as Braintree knocked off heavily-favored BC High.

-- St. John's (Shrewsbury) freshman Adham Floyd, was a very important piece for the Pioneers’ run to the Central Mass. Division 1 title game, starting several games during the season. Bishop Feehan freshman Mike Nelson, a teammate of Floyd's with the Shooting Stars AAU program, showed great poise in leading his team to an impressive run in the Division 3 South tournament, falling narrowly in the quarterfinals to eventual D3 South champion Martha’s Vineyard.


Picking the Super Team for this year's ESPN Boston MIAA All-State Team sparked as much debate as any Super Team selection in recent years. The statewide parity, talented young players bolting to prep school, and lack of scholarship-level talent in the upper classes forced careful consideration and a never-ending debate about picking out the MIAA’s elite upperclassmen.

However, with the amount of freshmen and sophomores who made a name for themselves on a big stage this year -- the instant-classic Division 1 state final between Mansfield and Putnam being the prime example -- it's likely we won’t spend too much time worrying about the pipelines of scholarship-level talent coming up the ranks in MIAA basketball.

Recap: No. 6 Brighton 57, No. 2 New Mission 52

February, 1, 2013

HYDE PARK, Mass. –- Call it the biggest comeback of the season.

Sixth-ranked Brighton (10-3) was down by 19 going into the fourth quarter of their showdown with favored New Mission on Thursday night, but behind near-perfect offensive execution in the fourth quarter, the Bengals were able to pull out a 57-52 victory.

Mission (10-3) came out of the gates on a tear, with a 16-2 run to start the game and building up what seemed to be an insurmountable 36-22 halftime lead. Behind 12 points from Percio Gomez and 11 from Juwan Gooding over the first two quarters, the Titans’ young guards combined to outscore Brighton by halftime.

Staring down an even larger deficit going into the fourth quarter, Brighton never backed down, even being down by 19 points and getting severely outrebounded over the course of the entire game.

“We just kept pressing on the guys that we just have to keep pressing, keep working, and just keep chipping away," Brighton coach Hugh Coleman said. "I told them at halftime, ‘One possession at a time’, and we switched up the lineup a little bit, put in a couple different guys who gave us some energy, and it was one possession at a time.”

Mojica comes up big: Junior guard Mark Mojica certainly wasn’t expected to be the guy down the stretch for Brighton. Mojica was 0-for-6 on from behind the three-point arc through the first 30 minutes of the game, but knocked down two huge threes in the final two minutes, including two critical steals that helped seal what is perhaps the most impressive come-from-behind win in MIAA hoops this year.

Late in the first half, after Mojica had missed three pointers on two of the previous four Brighton possessions, he hesitated and passed up on a wide open three from the top of the arc. The ball tipped off a Brighton rebounder and went out of bounds, and Coleman berated Mojica while he got back on defense for not taking the shot, especially from a spot on the floor where he likes to shoot the most.

[+] EnlargeMark Mojica
Brendan Hall for ESPNBrighton's Mark Mojica was miserable from the field through the first 30 minutes, but nailed two 3-pointers in the final two minutes to complete the Bengals' wild comeback.
“Mark struggled shooting the ball, he got down on himself. At the end of the first half he hesitated because I guess he had missed a couple in a row. So I took him out of the game, because he didn’t shoot the ball,” Coleman said.

“I told him, ‘I’ve got confidence in you to shoot the ball, and you need to have confidence in you shooting the ball. I don’t take you out when you miss two in a row, but I’m going to take you out when you don’t take the next one. You have to think as a shooter I’m going to hit the next two or three’.”

Beating the press: New Mission’s 1-2-2 zone press was completely overwhelming for Brighton in the first half. Playing far out of character, Malik James turned the ball over four times in the first half—mainly due to the amount of pressure and swarming that was coming from New Mission’s defenders. Even when Brighton didn’t turn the ball over, though, they often took quick shots and rarely worked the ball around to get the best shot. It was a problem that Coleman said he addressed with his team at halftime.

“I told Malik to slow down," Coleman said. "Early in with the press they were running at him and making him speed up, and he was turning it over. I told him to slow down, let them come, and then find the open guys. In the second half, they adjusted, they stopped approaching and they laid back. So at that point, we had to try to pick them apart.”

Pick them apart they certainly did, Brighton finished with four different scorers in double figures, Mojica, Nick Simpson, James, and Daivon Edwards. Senior forward Nickerson Succes also came up big for the Bengals, coming off the bench with Mojica, Succes scored six points and at times anchored Brighton defensively and on the glass.

“Nick Simpson, Daivon Edwards, and Malik are our nucleus. We rely on them to show up and give what they’re supposed to give us, but then guys like Nick Succes and with Mark Mojica, we know what he’s capable of,” Coleman said.

“Tonight was a great example of those two guys stepping up when we needed it the most. We just want to build up our role players so that they can step up in situations like this.”

Foreshadowing of Round 3? New Mission outrebounded Brighton 34-21, but their defensive lapses down the stretch ultimately cost them the game. New Mission head coach Cory McCarthy was adamant to his team after the game about learning from the loss and moving on. After all, New Mission could potentially see Brighton again, either at the Boston City League championships or in the Division 2 North tournament -- or both.

“I’m not ashamed of my kids at all," McCarthy said. "I told my kids that if they’re going to go home and read social media, then yeah, feel that [pain], but the season’s not over. We’ll be there in the end. We’re not going anywhere, I still believe we’re the best team in the state.

“We lost, so what, we still have the best kids. Those guys (Brighton) are good, they’re good for a reason. They’ll be there in the end, and so will we. It’s going to be tough to beat a team three times, believe me.”

McCarthy was making a reference to the fact that with the win, Brighton got their second consecutive regular season sweep over the Titans. New Mission hasn’t beaten Brighton since the 2011 Division 2 North Final, a 55-53 Titans win. Mission went on to capture their second consecutive state title following that win.

“[Tonight] was a total mental breakdown, a mental collapse," McCarthy said. "We didn’t execute the way we did in the first half. We may have run out of energy, we were a little bit too amped like we were for the first game. There’s still a lot of youth out there, and we don’t have one guy that can take over a game and carry us to where we want them to carry us.

“I don’t care what happened tonight. We could have lost by 80, but we’re still the model program in the city. They get up to play us, they always play well against us. Some teams are just a bad matchup…they’re a matchup problem for us.”

Roundtable: Midseason All-State, Superlatives

January, 25, 2013
At the midpoint of the MIAA basketball season, we've asked our panel of experts to submit their picks for ESPN Boston All-State, as well as Mr. and Miss Basketball along with a number of superlatives:


Brendan Hall
ESPN Boston High Schools Editor

All-State Super Team
G – Tyler Nelson, Jr., Central Catholic
G – Darien Fernandez, Sr., Wareham
G – Jameilen Jones, Sr., BC High
G/F – Kamari Robinson, Sr., Springfield Central
F/C – Tyler Gibson, Sr., Rockland

Second Team
G – Jaylen Blakely, Sr., Brockton
G – Nick McKenna, Sr., Danvers
F – Nick Cambio, Jr., Central Catholic
F – Brendan Hill, Soph., Mansfield
F – Isaiah Nelsen, Sr., North Andover

Third Team
G – Riyadh Asad, Sr., West Springfield
G – Juwan Gooding, Soph., New Mission
F - Sam Dowden, Sr., Andover
C - Dakari Wornum, Sr., Dorchester
C – Chris Baldwin, Soph., Springfield Central

Girls Super Team
G - Infiniti Thomas-Waheed, Jr., Newton North
G - Donnaizha Fountain, Sr., Cambridge
F - Olivia Healy, Sr., Reading
F - Caitlyn Abela, Sr., Oliver Ames
C - Molly Reagan, Soph., Braintree

Mr. Basketball Finalists
Tyler Nelson, Jr., Central Catholic – WINNER
Darien Fernandez, Sr., Wareham
Jameilen Jones, Sr., BC High
Tyler Gibson, Sr., Rockland
Kamari Robinson, Sr., Springfield Central

Defensive Player of the Year – Drew Healy, Lowell
Coach of the Year – John Walsh, Danvers
Best Shooter – Tyler Nelson, Central Catholic
Biggest surprise (player) – Dakari Wornum, Dorchester
Biggest surprise (team) – St. Peter-Marian
Most underrated (player) – David Stewart, Madison Park
Most underrated (team) – Melrose

G – Tyree Weston, Soph., New Bedford
G – Marcus Middleton, Sr., Stoughton
F – Isshiah Coleman, Sr., New Mission
F – Prince Unaegbu, Sr., Brighton
C – Drew Healy, Sr., Lowell

Tyler Nelson, Jr., Central Catholic
Tommy Mobley, Soph., Newton North
Daivon Edwards, Sr., Brighton
Giulien Smith, Soph., Catholic Memorial
Ben Judson, Soph., St. John's Prep

Second half sleepers to watch

The Bears are a streaky team, but also a gritty one, as shown in their 58-57 loss to East Boston on Wednesday. Dakari Wornum has been one of the breakout stars of the first half of the season, but a number of athletic shooters -- including Jeduan Langston, Khalil Newson, Ceejae Agnew-Carter and Dean Lee -- can make this team explode at any moment. The expected return of 6-foot-7 junior D'Bryant Coraprez should bolser the frontcourt too.

We knew junior point guard Brian Mukasa (18.8 points per game) was good, and we though he had potential to be this good, but we had questions about the Eagles' supporting cast. Jimmy Fritzon (14.2 points per game) has some answers.

Hawks are my favorite to win the Dual County League's Large division, in a year of parity across the board. Keep an eye on Mike Gelineau, one of the area's more underrated shooters.

Most expected Wareham to run away with the South Coast Conference (again), but guess who's sitting at 11-2 and 8-1 in the league? The Cardinals are allowing a league-best 46 points per game, and face Wareham on Wednesday for a first-place battle in the SCC. Keep an eye on 6-foot-8 senior center Matt Plante.


Chris Bradley
ESPN Boston correspondent

All-State Super Team
G - Darien Fernandez, Sr., Wareham
G - Tyler Nelson, Jr., Central Catholic
F - Jameilen Jones, Sr., BC High
F - Kamari Robinson, Sr., Springfield Central
C - Tyler Gibson, Sr., Rockland

Second Team
G - Jaylen Blakely, Sr., Brockton
G - Riyadh Asad, Sr., West Springfield
F - Nick Simpson, Sr., Brighton
F - Nick Cambio, Sr., Central Catholic
F - Brendan Hill, Soph., Mansfield

Third Team
G - Nick McKenna, Sr., Danvers
G - Rod Milton, Sr., Worcester South
F - Sam Dowden, Sr., Andover
F - Isaiah Nelsen, Sr., North Andover
C - Chris Baldwin, Soph., Springfield Central

Girls Super Team
G - Kayla Burton, Sr., Newton South
G/F - Donnaizha Fountain, Sr., Cambridge
G/F - Olivia Healy, Sr., Reading
F - Morgan Lumb, Sr., North Andover
C - Molly Reagan, Soph., Braintree

Mr. Basketball Finalists
Tyler Nelson, Central Catholic - WINNER
Darien Fernandez, Wareham
Jameilen Jones, BC High
Tyler Gibson, Rockland
Kamari Robinson, Springfield Central

Defensive Player of the Year - Isshiah Coleman, New Mission
Coach of the Year - Sean Connolly, St. John’s Prep
Best Shooter - Tyler Nelson, Central Catholic
Biggest Surprise (Team) – Wachusett
Biggest Surprise (Player) – KayJuan Bynum, Springfield Putnam
Most Underrated (Player) – Sam Dowden, Andover
Most Underrated (Team) – Dorchester

G - Marcus Middleton, Sr., Stoughton
G/F - Nate Anderson, Sr., New Mission
F - Isshiah Coleman, Sr., New Mission
C - Alex Cooper, Sr., Wachusett
C - Drew Healy, Sr., Lowell

Tyler Nelson, Jr., Central Catholic
Tim Dufficy, Sr., Whitinsville Christian
Tommy Mobley, Soph., Newton North
Zack Berman, Sr., Wachusett
Jaylen Blakely, Sr., Brockton

Second-half sleepers:

If Connor Merinder is back in time for the tournament, then consider Andover a favorite in Division 1 North. Central Catholic has clearly separated themselves from BC High, St. John’s Prep, Lowell, and Andover so far, but if Andover gets a healthy, productive Merinder back, they will make a run to the Division 1 North final. The Golden Warriors have gone 10-2 thus far without the 6-foot-5 forward, who is considered one of the MIAA’s best in a loaded 2015 class. Sam Dowden has done a great job of leading Andover so far, but getting a healthy Merinder makes them a legitimate contender to be at the DCU Center come March.

Worcester South
South became the first team to finally knock off previously undefeated Wachusett in Central Mass. The Cononels, who with the win moved to 8-2, did so without junior point guard Kasheen Cunningham, one of the area’s best outside shooters. South has the best scorer in Central Mass. in Rod Milton, a strong young big man in Khalil Bryan-Robinson, and a constant threat from outside in Cunningham—with Central Mass. Division 1 as up in the air as it has been in years, look for South to make a run to the Division 1 finals at WPI.


Ryan Kilian
Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Mass. Prep Stars (

Boys Super Team
G - Tyler Nelson, Jr., Central Catholic
G - Jameilen Jones, Sr., BC High
G - Malik James, Jr., Brighton
F - Brendan Hill, Soph., Mansfield
C - Chris Baldwin, Soph., Springfield Central

Girls Super Team
G - Morgan Lumb, Sr., North Andover
G/F - Alana Gilmer, Soph., Archbishop Williams
G/F - Donnaizha Fountain, Sr., Cambridge
F - Olivia Healy, Sr., Reading
C - Molly Reagan, Soph., Braintree

Mr. Basketball
Tyler Nelson, Jr., Central Catholic

Miss Basketball
Olivia Healy, Sr., Reading

Defensive Player of the Year
Boys: Kendall Hamilton, Sr., Wakefield
Girls: Infiniti Thomas-Waheed, Jr., Newton North

Coach of the Year
Boys: Mike Kasprzak, Melrose
Girls: John McNamara, Pentucket

Best Shooter
Boys: Tyler Nelson, Jr., Central Catholic
Girls: Morgan Lumb, Sr., North Andover

Biggest Surprise
Boys: Frantzdy Pierrot, Jr., Melrose
Girls: Molly Bent, Soph., Barnstable

Most Underrated Player
Boys: Doug Gemmell, Sr., Central Catholic
Girls: Tess Noguiera, Sr., Pentucket

Most Underrated Team
Boys: Melrose
Girls: Ipswich

Second Half Sleepers

Boys: Wakefield – They have been hanging in the wings with a few losses and have battled some injuries but with a healthy Bruce Brown and continued improved play of Kendall Hamilton, Mikol Blake-Green and others they should be back in the title hunt by the end of the regular season.

Girls: Westford Academy – Westford Academy has played a very difficult schedule, losing to Bishop Feehan, Wachusett and Billerica by a combined five points. They have wins over Lincoln-Sudbury and Arlington Catholic as resume boosters and can play with any team in the state. Juniors Sam Hyslip and Hannah Hackley lead the Grey Ghosts in most statistical categories.


Rob Sarmiento
Founder and Editor, Beantown Hoops (

First Team
G - Jameilen Jones, Sr., BC High
G - Darien Fernandez, Sr., Wareham
F - Sam Dowden, Sr., Andover
F - Tyler Gibson, Sr., Rockland
F - Doug Gemmell, Sr., Central Catholic

Second Team
G - Jaleel Bell, Sr., Wayland
G - Jaylen Blakely, Sr., Brockton
G - Malik James, Jr., Brighton
G - Tyler Nelson, Jr., Central Catholic
F - Isaiah Nelsen, Sr., North Andover

Third Team
G - Giulien Smith, Soph., Catholic Memorial
G - Juwan Gooding, Soph., New Mission
G/F - Bruce Brown, Soph., Wakefield
F - Brendan Hill, Soph., Mansfield
F - Nate Anderson, Sr., New Mission

Girls Super Team
G/F - Donnaizha Fountain, Sr., Cambridge
G/F - Olivia Healy, Sr., Reading
G/F - Molly Bent, Soph., Barnstable
G/F - Morgan Lumb, Sr., North Andover
F - Sarah Hope, Sr., Medway

Mr. Basketball - Jameilen Jones, BC High
Miss Basketball - Olivia Healy, Reading
Coach of the Year - Mark Antonelli, Somerville
Best Shooter - Tyler Nelson, Central Catholic
Biggest Surprise (player) - Molly Bent, Barnstable (Girls)
Biggest Surprise (team) - North Reading
Most Underrated (player) - Jaleel Bell, Wayland
Most Underrated (team) - Melrose

Tyler Nelson, Jr., Central Catholic
Sam Dowden, Sr., Andover
Sam Bohmiller, Sr., Franklin
Tommy Mobely, Soph., Newton North
Mike Gelineau, Sr., Waltham

Second Half Sleepers

Boys: Franklin - Well-coached and playing in a tough conference will make them battle ready come playoff time. Plus, they have a player who can make threes in bunches with Bohmiller.

Girls: Arlington Catholic - Seem to always make a run and their style of play is tough to prepare for. They are young in some key positions, but first half of the season experience will show during the playoffs.

Recap: No. 3 New Mission 69, Madison Park 64

January, 12, 2013
ROXBURY, Mass. -- Shaquan Murray is a serviceable defender, a quality athlete, but above all else he is a shooter. So as he mired through a lethargic shooting slump in the first half of a gritty game against rival Madison Park, in the notoriously-unfriendly Madidome, the New Mission junior guard did what many a shooter will do -- he kept shooting.

In need of some spark after some dizzyingly sub-par shot selection through the first 26 minutes, New Mission rode a wave of momentum with back-to-back three-pointers from Murray that knotted the game at 57-57 with less than three minutes to go.

The Titans took the lead for good on a Juwan Gooding three with 1:39 to go, and escaped the Cardinals’ gym with a 69-64 win to remain in first place in the Boston City League’s top tier (6-3, 4-1). With the loss, the MP Machine fell to a surprising 1-5 in the league.

"I know that kid was going to come up big for us," Mission head coach Cory McCarthy said. "That kid, man, he's still learning the game, but he's going to be special. He's going to be special. No matter what, he always lets the game come to him. The game will always find him. He's a good kid, man, good kid."

Murray finished with 15 points, second-most on the team. But prior to his two big fourth-quarter buckets, he was just 4-for-11 from the field.

"You’ve got to keep shooting," Murray said. "When I was struggling, my coach was telling me to go to the basket and be aggressive, and that’s what I was doing. Then when it opened up for me to shoot, I knocked them down when they counted. I kept shooting."

A few minutes later, the sophomore Gooding (17 points, five assists, five rebounds) gave the Titans the lead for good, getting a wide-open look along the left wing directly off an inbounds pass from under the baseline.

Give due credit to Gooding and his feathery, high-arching stroke from deep. But the look was made possible thanks to a heads-up maneuver from junior center Fred “Bam” Rivers (seven points, seven rebounds). Seeing Gooding with plenty of space around the three-point line, Rivers found the MP body closest to the Gooding -- in this instance, near the intersecting corner of the volleyball lines -- and flashed a quick screen.

"Fred was so smart," Mission head coach Cory McCarthy said. "He came off his guy, and just banged the guy. It was a little bit of a flare. That wasn’t the play, but Bam is so smart."

From there, 6-foot-7 senior forward Nate Anderson came up with two big steals to help seal the win. First, he snatched an outlet pass near the scorer's table, and called a timeout. Of the timeout, Gooding fumbled away the inbounds pass. At the other end, however, Anderson sagged deep into the lane and ripped the ball out of a Cardinal player's hands, with under a minute to go.

Gooding was tasked with free throws, and he did his job to seal the win. In the fourth quarter, Gooding was 6-of-8 from the charity stripe.

"Nate's a defensive presence, and he shuts down an entire side," McCarthy said of Anderson. "And I'm very serious. He may not score a ton of points, he'll grab some boards and get you some blocks, but man, there's no stat for how valuable he is this year."

Seniors Isshiah Coleman and Brian Jones were the only other Titans in double-figures, with 10 points each -- in Coleman's case, despite foul trouble for most of the evening.

The last three minutes were quite a turnaround from the way things had started off. The Titans shot 38 percent from the field (12-of-31) in the first half, and through three quarters were just 35 percent. That included a 1-for-18 margin from three-point range.

"Our shot selection was so poor for 29 minutes of this game," McCarthy said. "[The last three minutes] We decided to play New Mission basketball. It's hard when Nate [Anderson] is in foul trouble. Nate can't be in foul trouble, bottom line. He's the key to our defense, and he and Isshiah [Coleman] had three fouls each in the first half."

Senior forward David Stewart turned in a monster game for the Cardinals, leading them with 17 points and 16 rebounds, while junior guard Terrell Matthews added 16 in the loss.

"He played his butt off," MP head coach Dennis Wilson said of Stewart. "He played like a warrior, like the guy I know he is, and has been for me for four years. [He's a] relentless rebounder."

Accusations of 'classless' play: Wilson was none too happy following the loss, going so far as accusing the Titans of using low-brow tactics to gain an edge. Wilson's inclination stemmed primarily from an episode during a free throw attempt in the second half, when a Mission player stood next to a Cardinals player as he spoke with Wilson, and refused to move away when asked.

Wilson was not pleased the with this, and had some choice words for the player; at one point, one of Wilson's assistants stepped between the two.

At another point in the game, the same player fell to the floor after being pushed by a player, but in a manner close enough to possibly be perceived as embellishment. After the buzzer sounded to end the first half, an MP player was given a technical foul for retaliating to some extracurricular play; Percio Gomez hit both free throws to cut MP's halftime lead to 32-30.

"Nothing's wrong with a physical game and being aggressive," Wilson said. "But when you show no class, when you're doing bush league things, when you're going outside the lines, when players are disrespecting the opposing coach, that's not what this is all about. That's not what basketball competing is all about. They need to have more class, they need to understand what real sports is all about -- sportsmanship, compete, battle.

"But the classless stuff, and the disrespect -- players disrespecting the coach, flopping, them trying to start trouble and bait players -- that stuff is sickening to me."

Told later in the evening by phone of Wilson's words, McCarthy reiterated what officials had said -- that what his player in question was doing was within the rules.

"If a player is on the court during a live ball, he can stand anywhere he wants. It’s not to offend the other team, its just he’s staying on his man," McCarthy said. "It’s not like he [Wilson] was calling out plays and we were stealing plays. You're not going to find anybody outside the city that is going to say this is a classless program. Only people in the Boston City League feel a certain way about New Mission, because they feel we haven’t paid any dues.

"As far as the ruling, the referee came over and explained to coach that my player being there is 100 percent legal. Anyone that knows me knows I don’t tolerate my kids doing the extracurricular. If I thought it was wrong, I would have had him move, but the court belongs to the players, not the coaches. And after the game, all his players hugged my players."

Recap: No. 3 New Mission 66, No. 10 East Boston 42

January, 9, 2013
HYDE PARK, Mass. -– They were just too big and too deep.

Even with star player Nate Anderson forced to the bench with foul trouble, the New Mission frontline still boasted no player under six-foot-four. The Titans’ bigs dominated the paint throughout and kept East Boston from getting into its offense.

Senior forward Isshiah Coleman picked up the slack for Anderson with a game-high 17 points and nine rebounds to lead No. 3 New Mission to a 66-42 victory over No. 10 East Boston in Wednesday night’s City League clash.

New Mission’s performance was even more impressive considering that it had not played a game in 11 days. Head coach Cory McCarthy had his team prepared, and the Titans (5-3) jumped out to a 12-0 lead in the opening four minutes.

“We practiced hard and that’s all it really comes down to,” he explained. “I think that tonight we stuck with the game plan. Today, they played a smart game. We stayed in the passing lanes, we tried not to let them reverse the ball, and we did what we’re supposed to do.”

East Boston (5-3) came into the game shorthanded. Senior forward Kenny Ramos and leading scorer Rasheed Bell were both out injured, which left the team with limited options on the post. This was a situation that the Titans were happy to exploit.

He said, “We have height for days. I know the whole game people heard me screaming to get the ball inside, but when you have arguably the biggest team in MIAA, why not?”

Despite falling behind 12-0, despite being shorthanded, and despite turning the ball over 15 times in the first half against New Mission’s punishing 1-2-2 zone, East Boston managed to get themselves back into the game.

A pair of layups by senior guard Pat Santos, who led the team in scoring with 14 points, and a three from sophomore Dion Knight pulled Eastie to within six points at 22-16. Just when it seemed that the visitors might go into halftime with momentum, New Mission rattled off seven straight points including a three at the buzzer by Shaquan Murray.

East Boston head coach Shawn Brown was disappointed in how his team started, but was impressed by its ability to get itself back into the game in the first half.

“We got some stops but we couldn’t score,” said Brown. “I thought they weathered the storm in the first half. I thought the three at the end of the half was tough, but it always felt like a 10-point game. I was pleased with the effort of my guys in the first half.”

The difference in the game was New Mission’s ability to create turnovers on defense. By using the six-foot-seven Anderson at the point of the 1-2-2 zone, it seemed as though the trapping and pressing extended from halfcourt to the baseline and sideline to sideline. There seemed to be no passing lanes for East Boston, which ended the game with 29 turnovers.

“Nate is such an athletic freak and he had no idea how good he could be,” said McCarthy. “You just have to put him in a position where he can do the right thing by accident. We put him at the top of our halfcourt set and he took away one whole side of the court on the ball reversal.”

He added, “I thought we really defended well. Once you start forcing turnovers without getting stretched, you’re in good shape. I think we left a lot of points out there but...hey, we won the game.”

Brown also pointed to his team’s turnovers as the key component to the loss and a problem that his team needs to fix going forward this season.

He said, “With 29 turnovers you’re not going to beat anybody, let alone a team like that. There was a worry coming in about their length and it definitely affected us.”

New Mission controlled the second half with Coleman and Anderson (eight points) adding to their highlight reels with several powerful dunks. Sophomore point guard Juwan Gooding scored seven of his nine points in the third quarter to help build the lead while Murray finished with 11, including six in the second half.

Knight joined Santos in double figures for East Boston with 11 points and senior guard Stanley Harris added six. Brown gave several players called up from the JV squad a chance to get experience in the fourth quarter.

The game threatened to get out of control early in the fourth quarter after Coleman received his second technical foul of the game for a dunk after the whistle. A later incident followed a whistle in the lane and saw a player from each team sent to the locker rooms. Gratefully the game ended without any further issues.

Recap: Windsor (Conn.) 74, New Mission 71

December, 30, 2012
BOSTON -- Junior phenom Jared Wilson-Frame led the way for Windsor (Conn.) with 28 points in their BABC Holiday Classic showdown against New Mission, and the Warriors were able to hold off a barrage of points from the Titans in the final minutes, escaping with a 74-71 win.

“Well it’s a tough environment to play in, it’s a good little gym and they’re a good team,” Windsor coach Ken Smith said following the game. “I’m pretty sure they’re going to make runs. I watched them play the other night [against Mansfield], that’s a good team you got there and I’m sure this is going to be a springboard for them.”

New Mission trailed by as many as 10 points late in the fourth quarter, but were given a nice boost by Isshiah Coleman in the paint. In the game’s final minutes, the senior forward cleaned up on the offensive boards and put back six of his 10 points on the afternoon.

The Titans (4-3) were able to cut the deficit all the way down to one in the closing seconds on a steal and fast-break lay-up from Percio Gomez, but were slow to commit a foul on the ensuing Windsor (5-0) possession and had to settle on sending Wilson-Frame to the line rather than senior Jaquan Harrison.

After Wilson-Frame hit both free throws to extend the lead to three, New Mission, with 7.3 seconds left on the clock, looked to leading scorer Juwan Gooding (18 points, six assists) to send it to overtime. Windsor was ready though, triple-teaming Gooding behind the line as the sophomore tossed up a prayer that found the backboard and the rim, but not the net.

Following the game, New Mission head coach Cory McCarthy attributed his team’s loss to their performance at the free throw line (7 of 21), and the effort on the boards by his bigs.

“I’m not upset about the loss at all,” McCarthy said. “That’s something that the players have to put on themselves. They have to say to themselves ‘I have to get better, I have to do better, I gotta help our team win’, and that’s what it came down to.”

“I like Windsor a lot, I like what they did, and I’d play them a hundred times if we could. At the same time, I feel like we didn’t stay true to who we were today.”

Guarding Windsor: Entering today’s game, Windsor averaged just under 80 points per game, including a 94-point performance two weeks ago against South Windsor (Conn.).

The Warriors are led by Wilson-Frame, a 6-foot-4 junior who is drawing interest from Miami, Providence, UConn and UCLA just to name a few.

Included in his 28-point performance was a put-back that put a halt to a 7-0 scoring run in the closing minutes for New Mission, two free throws that found nothing but net with the game on the line in the final seconds, and a silky-smooth drive to net throughout the game that is surely leaving scouts drooling.

“We came out in a diamond and one [press]," McCarthy said. "It was pretty effective against him but he hit some huge hero shots. He played Superman for them tonight and he delivered. I thought our diamond and one bothered him early, and then when Nate [Anderson] came out of the game we had less length on him.”

McCarthy was also quick to credit Windsor point guard Tyler Rowe who, despite being listed at just 5-foot-6, gave New Mission fits on the glass and on the floor through out the afternoon.

“He was tremendous, every decision he made was 100 percent right," McCarthy said. "He was totally efficient, and I have no problem with that.”

Grueling three-day swing: No matter what the future may hold for this year’s New Mission team, no one can look back at the end of the season and say they played a soft schedule.

For that reason, McCarthy likes his team’s chances going forward.

In the past three days, the Titans have taken on a Christ The King team thought by many to be No. 1 in the state of New York; beaten previously-undefeated Mansfield, ranked number No. 4 in's statewide poll; and hung until the final minutes against a Windsor team that is also ranking in at No. 4 in Connecticut.

“You will see in the middle of January, how much better we are because of this,” McCarthy said of the three-day stretch. “This is no disrespect to anybody else, but we won’t see three more teams as good as the three teams we just played for the rest of the year.

“If we can play above, or at that level that we played at for the last three days, I’m confident of where we will be in the end.”

Asked what his motivation was to schedule three straight games against three teams of that capability, McCarthy pointed to building his team’s character.

“I just want my guys to get tougher," he said. "I want to deflate some egos. If we start reading the clippings, and thinking that we’re better than everybody else...It humbles guys.

“So we see that sort of level. Can we match that level? Can we win on that level? I think we can, I think we have some little things that we can work on to get it done."

Recap: Christ The King (N.Y.) 80, Mission 54

December, 27, 2012
BOSTON -- With one glance at this season’s New Mission High School basketball schedule, even a novice observer knew its toughest stretch of games would be between Christmas and the start of 2013.

The Titans kicked off game one of a three games in three days stretch by losing 80-54 to Christ the King (N.Y.) Thursday in the Shooting Touch Shootout at Emmanuel College.

[+] EnlargeNew Mission
Jon Mahoney for ESPNBoston.comIsshiah Coleman (23) and New Mission showed good signs in spurts, but could not overcome N.Y. powerhouse Christ The King.
The Titans (3-2) now move on to play Mansfield Friday on Day Two of the Shootout, and then face off against Windsor (Conn.) Saturday at the BABC Holiday Classic, at New Mission High School.

Mission had a rough first quarter and struggled to get a shot to fall. With 2:23 left in the quarter, Christ the King (4-1) had a 13-2 lead. Then the team went on a 13-6 run over the remaining minutes to end the quarter down only four points (17-13).

“What happened was they had nine offensive rebounds in that first quarter, which was what they scored off of,” said Christ the King coach Joe Arbitello. “We held them to one offensive rebound in the second quarter, and that was the difference in the game right there.”

Because the offensive rebounding differential changed so much in the second quarter, Christ the King was able to get out in transition and create odd-man opportunities and easy baskets, which allowed its lead to grow. It went into halftime up 41-27.

“We just didn’t execute the way we needed to,” said New Mission coach Cory McCarthy. “We usually find ways to get the ball inside, but we just could not get the ball inside the way we wanted to. Our guards decided they wanted to be the show, but that’s not New Mission basketball. Your guards can’t run the show with a team this sized.”

“They played well, they just capitalized off our mistakes,” he added. “That’s the point of us getting the ball inside: if you get the ball inside, you get back better in transition. Once you start shooting the ball, they get long rebounds.”

It doesn’t help when the other team has a 6-foot-10, 260-pound center clogging the paint. Adonis Delarosa was able to effect the game without scoring a single point. He missed the one field goal and both free throws he attempted, but still came down with 12 rebounds and blocked 4 shots.

His presence inside prevented Mission from getting the ball to its two tallest players, Nate Anderson (two points, two rebounds) and Chima Ebele (12 points, six rebounds) as much as it wanted to. Even when the guards tried to take it inside themselves, Delarosa was able to use his physicality and long reach to alter shots.

It doesn’t help when the other team is shooting the ball effectively from the three-point line. Jon Severe (23 points, 3-of-5 from 3-point range), Malik Harmon (13 points, 2-of-3 from 3), and others happily took jump shots against Mission’s 2-2-1 zone. When the defensive schematic switch was made, it was to try and create more ball pressure and hopefully create turnovers to get back in the game. Instead, the guards just shot around it.

Christ the King ran away with the game in the second half, never allowing its lead to get under double digits.

Severe-ly Outmatched: Christ the King has multiple players that have garnered varying levels of interest from Division 1 colleges. Jordan Fuchs (12 points, 5 rebounds) and Severe grade out the highest in the ESPN Recruiting Nation database, but it was Severe who most caught New Mission’s eye.

“Severe was the problem,” said McCarthy. “The thing with Severe was that he wasn’t a guy we were really focused on initially, but he put us on notice at the end of the first half. I don’t know what he ended up with, but I know he had 20 in the first half. I think if we did a better job in the first half of containing him, things definitely would’ve worked out better for us.

“This is obviously a situation where, they aren’t that far ahead of us, but I think in terms of guard play, they outplayed us tonight. We got what we wanted inside, but definitely they outplayed our guards. They were stronger, they were tougher, and they brought stronger help.”

No Details, No Problem: Christ The King came into Thursday knowing very little of what New Mission had to offer as a team. With little to no opportunity to scout them in person, the team relied on other methods to gather information on its opponent.

“We just tried to match up our players,” said Arbitello. “I’m not going to say I was completely blindsided this time. I know some people in Boston, and I looked at a couple of websites. I actually looked at ESPN Boston because you guys cover the city area pretty good. So I was just looking at things like that, seeing who is scoring, seeing who is doing what.”

“We knew very little about them,” he added. “I knew they were going to play tough, I knew they were going to try to get it off the glass, and I knew Juwan Gooding is a pretty good player.”

Recap: No. 17 Brighton 79, No. 4 Mission 70

December, 20, 2012

BRIGHTON, Mass. -- It was another heated, scrappy and at moments tense battle between Boston City League rivals Brighton and New Mission, Thursday night.

Edged ahead by a 22-point second half performance from junior Malik James, host No. 17 Brighton boys' basketball (2-2, 1-1) grabbed its third straight victory against previously undefeated No. 4 New Mission (3-1, 1-1) with a 79-68 City League (Division A) triumph last night.

The regular-season winner of the formerly City South matchup has gone on to appear in the Division 2 state finals the past two years.

“Going into this season I thought we had somewhat of an identity especially (by) returning so many guys from last year,” said Brighton coach Hugh Coleman. “It did not seem to come out yet, but this game was definitely a good identity game for us. We really wanted to make a big deal of playing defense, playing hard and playing for each other.”

With junior Nick Simpson fouling out in the second half, the reigning Division 2 North champs rode James (29 total points) to a late victory. Simpson scored all 17 of his points in the first half, while both players grabbed four rebounds.

The Bengals outscored New Mission 15-2 in the final 3:38, including a 10-0 run. James prompted the rally by sandwiching a fade-away 10-footer along the baseline with a pair of free throws for six straight and a 70-66 Brighton lead with 2:30 remaining.

An assisted layup from junior Mark Mojica to sophomore Jason Jones put Brighton up 74-66 at 1:37, while Titans freshman Fred Rivers (12 points) battled underneath to cut the run at 74-68 seconds later.

“Coach told me to keep my head and keep attacking the rim,” said James. “I try to get the pick man involved and get everybody

“Unfortunately I think that one of the fouls on (Prince Unaegbu) went to Nick,” added Coleman.

Technicals hurt the Titans late. They committed two in the final three minutes and three total, all misconducts during ball scuffles in their own territory. A technical with 37.2 left prompted four straight fouls for New Mission; James sank free throws to seal the game at 79-68.

“All good teams need a solid leader on the court,” said Coleman of James. “Tonight was a very intense game and for him to step up with Nick (Simpson) was extremely important.”

Brighton had pulled ahead 56-46 with 1:30 left in the third off a defensive block turned into an assisted layup from Jones to James that finished an 11 point run for the Bengals. A corner of the arc trey by junior Shaquan Murray edged New Mission back ahead 60-59 with six minutes left in the game.

“We did not get to play as aggressive as we wanted to,” said New Mission coach Cory McCarthy. “(We want) to bang the ball inside (but) sometimes we settle for threes too much and that hurt us in the end. We could not stop there penetration.”

Despite a layup and a dunk by New Mission senior Nate Anderson that helped the Titans pull ahead 4-2 at 7:15 in the first quarter, Brighton went up 14 seconds later off a four shot technical effort by Simpson and did not trail for the next 13.5 minutes. Attacking the rim heavy in the first half, the Bengals scored 20 points either from the line or within the free throw lane to pull ahead 23-15 after one quarter.

“We try to look at what we have for guys and what their skill set is,” said Coleman. “Malik is really good off the dribble when penetrating, so we try to use that to our advantage. If they collapse now we can kick it out and get some open shots.”

Senior Sam Freeman produced three points by a drawing a foul on a layup and Murray tipped in an in-air pass from sophomore Juwan Gooding to cut New Mission's deficit to 29-28 with five minutes left in the second.

Six straight points, including a pair of foul shots by senior Chima Ebele (four points, seven rebounds) edged the Titans ahead 34-33 with 1:30 left in the first half.

“We had opportunities,” said McCarthy. “I think we will be in good shape. We gave the game away when we thought the game was over when Simpson fouled out.”

Tense Moments: Tension rose between the teams throughout the game with a few scattered verbal disputes occurring.

Brighton had 21 fouls and a technical, while New Mission made 33 fouls and three technicals.

Play stopped in the second half due to what appeared to be a verbal disagreement between the Brighton bench and the Titans' crowd. The Bengals were asked by the referees in the final seconds to send their bench players to the locker room to avoid any possible issues.

“The referees as well as the headmaster of our school thought that the game was getting really really intense,” said Coleman. “(The New Mission fans) were close to our bench so for safety reason the refs as well as the principal suggested that we not shake hands. We obviously always try to show good sportsmanship.”

A New Mission player also huddled up with the Brighton team in the final seconds of the game, but easily returned to his squad when asked by referees.

“Our emotions got the best of us,” said McCarthy. “That is uncharacteristic of New Mission. It is the nature of the beast (but) it is just a matter of how you maintain you temperament.”

Recap: No. 4 Mission 87, No. 23 Charlestown 60

December, 15, 2012
CHARLESTOWN, Mass. -- It was a physical contest to open the loaded Boston City North slate for both squads. But more importantly, at least for New Mission, it was an ugly contest.

History shows that when New Mission is "playing ugly" like they did in their 2010-11 state championship season, they tend to win. So while the No. 4 Titans' 87-60 win over a green Charlestown squad was full of turnovers and fouls, it was also full of floor burns, hard elbows and overall just getting nasty with one another.

Just how head coach Cory McCarthy likes it.

"If you remember my previous season [2010-11], we've never been pretty," McCarthy said, alluding to his 2011 MIAA Division 2 state champion squad. "Last year, I think we got a little too pretty, trying to do cute things like hit three's off of curls and stuff like that. So I think this year, we just got dirty again. We scratched, scathed and clawed again. That's New Mission basketball."

At the same time, there was something organic about the Titans (2-0) when sophomore point guard Juwan Gooding (23 points, five 3-pointers, seven rebounds) was in his element. The 6-foot Dorchester resident accounted for the Titans' first 11 points, including back-to-back-to-back three-pointers, to kick things off and put the Townies (0-1) in hurry-up mode early.

"I was just feeling it," Gooding said of the opening minutes. "I had my stroke going. When I hit one, I just thought I'd keep going."

At the other end, Gooding at times brought frenetic energy, meeting the ballcarrier at half-court and tried to pin him to the sideline, keeping his arms and hips active in an effort to try and jar the ball loose. Towards the end of the first quarter, this led to an easy breakaway layup by Shaquan Murray (14 points) that made it 17-10. Gooding finished with four steals total.

That defensive mentality -- harrass your man, invade his personal space, make him uncomfortable -- has permeated for years. But on this night, Gooding's hot hand from the outside was just as contaigious.

The Titans hit 11 three-pointers in all, seemingly none more important than the back-to-back sequence that made it 60-42 with less than three minutes to go in the third quarter. First, Percio Gomez (11 points) caught a sideline inbounds pass from Murray at the right elbow, then immediately kicked it back to Murray, who had strafed towards the corner. The next time down, Gomez took the ball at the right wing and drove deep baseline, kicking back out to Gooding for the 18-point advantage.

Mission closed the third quarter leading 71-45, after Gomez was award three free throws at the buzzer, having nailed five 3-pointers in that stanza alone. Six-foot-4 junior Fred "Bam" Rivers provided some muscle underneath, coming up with 10 points and nine rebounds.

Charlestown got a bulk of its production from 6-foot-6 transfer juniors Freddy Oliveira (15 points, eight rebounds) and Allijah Robinson (11 points, eight rebounds).

Breaking the Zone: Charlestown broke out of a midseason slump last year by switching to a 2-3 zone (for seemingly the first time in school history), and rode that all the way to a Division 1 Eastern Mass. championship berth at TD Garden. Head coach Edson Cardoso says he still plans to mix things up between zone and man this season, but early on the Townies had some great possessions in the 2-3 zone defense, getting deflections up top from Robinson and Jimmy Edwards, as well as junior Taris Wilson.

Yes, the Titans attacked the zone with perimeter shots, hitting 11 three's. But on some nights, perimeter shots is not how you beat the zone -- sometimes, that's how the zone beats you. Mission, however, turned it on Charlestown by throwing some 2-3 offense right back at them.

"Most teams set up in a 1-3-1 against a 2-3, we run a 2-3 against a 2-3," McCarthy said. "We bring the three against the two, so we just go odd-even, our odd against their even, and then we just weave them. Then eventually, we duck a big in and throw it over the top, and we have isolation. So, that helps us playing against man or zone.

"For me, I struggled last year trying to figure out how our offense works. I think we have something that works, because I have such smart guys in the high post -- Chima [Ebele], Fred [Rivers], Nate [Anderson] when he's healthy. We're versatile, and we're not the same team as last year."

Anderson easing back: Six-foot-7 senior center Nate Anderson has been slowly making his way back into the lineup, after being hamstrung the last week or so with an ankle sprain. Tonight, he got most of his minutes late in the game and nearly unnerved McCarthy when he went up for a dramatic tomahawk dunk in transition, missed, and hit the floor hard with a hard foul.

A few possessions later, Anderson broke to the top of the key for a deflection and steal, then broke away for a thunderous one-handed slam, drawing a wild reaction from the crowd with about two minutes to go in the game.

"Nate sideline to sideline is just disruptive," McCarthy said. "And he has it now, he has the passion now."

Bridges remains out: Sophomore point guard Greg Bridges remains out of the lineup, and McCarthy says the 5-foot-7 spark plug isn't even practicing with the team right now.

Bridges started as a freshman last season for the Titans, and built up some hype for 2012-12 after an explosive showing at AAU Nationals last July, reportedly hitting 11 three-pointers in one game.

"He needs to take some time off, that's all," McCarthy said.

And the reason?

"Nothing really, other than to really focus on his future -- and he has a future," McCarthy said. "And we want to make sure we secure a future for him. He's a good kid, he just has to have some maturity."

The next Rony? Cardoso was asked about the play of Gooding, and he brought up a familar name in Townie basketball folklore -- Rony Fernandez, the point guard who catalyzed the Townies to their first North sectional title since 2005 last March, and subsequently was named to's MIAA All-State Team.

"He reminds me of Rony a little bit," Cardoso said. "Similar game, you know, Rony could shoot from deep, Juwan can handle it...He's a tough matchup, he's going to hurt a lot of teams."

Scrimmage Slants: New Mission vs. BB&N

November, 30, 2012
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -– Notes and observations from last night’s scrimmage between talented ISL squad BB&N and Boston City League power New Mission, considered one of the favorites to make a long run in the MIAA Division 2 basketball tournament:

Pressure D the key: New Mission set the tempo from the tip-off, getting in the face of BB&N’s guards with a 2-2-1 full court press, and then falling back into man-to-man. With their guards getting jumped every single time they crossed halfcourt, BB&N had a hard time getting anything going offensively early on, and New Mission had many 2-on-1 lay-ups in transition as a result.

Anderson Playing Inspired: Forward Nate Anderson was an enigma last year for New Mission, to say the least. However, the 6-foot-7 senior has come back this year and completely transformed his body, effort, and inside game. Defensively, his effort was top-notch while he showed a combination of versatility and aggressiveness in his offensive game. On many occasions Anderson ignited the fast break, distributing the ball on the offensive end of the floor or finishing it himself inside. He’s playing faster, stronger, and with much more energy; if he keeps that effort going for a whole season, coach Cory McCarthy’s team is a state title contender.

Isshiah Coleman will also be a force on the post this year for the Titans. The 6-foot-5 senior has long arms and great timing, and as he proved on Thursday night, he will be one of the most intimidating shot-blockers in the MIAA.

Titans Deep At Guard: There will be no shortage of playmakers are guard this year for the Titans. With sophomore point guard Greg Bridges serving a suspension due to an unexcused absence from practice, junior Shaquan Murray and sophomore transfer Juwan Gooding stepped up and did a lot of New Mission’s scoring, standing out especially in the first period where New Mission beat BB&N 26-5.

Gooding, a Bay State League all-star last year at Milton High, has the talent to become one of the MIAA’s most prolific scorers. His jumper from the outside is lights out, he uses a quick first step to get to the rim at will, and yet he still manages to give more effort on the defensive side of the ball than on offense, as seen by the several turnovers he forced in the game.

New Mission guard Percio Gomez was a pleasant surprise. Gomez is a senior whom McCarthy says has truly earned the minutes that he will get this year. He’s a strong, quick guard with a great-looking outside shot who can be expected to be an underrated rotation guy for the Titans.

Underrated Prospects : BB&N has a couple of talented sophomore guards to keep an eye on the next couple years.
  • Koby Antwi’s athleticism was very impressive, several times finishing tough shots around the rim. On one occasion, he crossed up Gooding and finished an acrobatic lay-up through two New Mission defenders, drawing “ooh’s” and “ah’s” from the crowd.
  • The other guard, Nick Jacobs, was playing his first game since an ACL injury, and did a nice job of managing the BB&N offense. As he continues to get back to full strength, he will be a tough player for ISL opponents to stop.
  • Nick Tarantino, a 6-foot-6 junior, had a hard time with Anderson and Coleman early on, but started to play a lot more aggressive in the final period. He didn’t seem afraid to throw his body around, he was all over the glass, and he showed that he can step out and hit the three.

Roundtable: Preseason MIAA hoop primer

November, 25, 2012
With the first MIAA-sanctioned practices of the 2012-13 season set to commence tomorrow, today we're looking at the top storylines and top players from across the state.

Check back with us later in the preseason for our first Top 25 poll and our Preseason All-State Teams. But for now, here are the storylines to watch, and our projected Super Teams.


Brendan Hall
ESPN Boston High Schools editor

Reading Machine Rages On
Had it not been for Andover and superstar Nicole Boudreau, the Division 2 state champ Reading Rockets would have been garnering far more attention last season. The Rockets were one of the state's most dominant forces from wire to wire, going 25-0 en route to the program's first state title. They were one of the state's most explosive offenses (64.3 points per game), and blew out nearly everyone -- their average margin of victory was 27.1, with their only threats coming in the North final (49-46 over Arlington Catholic) and Eastern Mass. Final (71-64 over Scituate, in overtime).

The conversation in Reading starts with Richmond-bound guard/forward Olivia Healy, a two-time ESPN Boston All-State and one of the early favorites for our Miss Basketball award. The 5-foot-10 senior can play any position on the floor, excels on the boards, and is as physical as they come. But every superstar needs a supporting cast, and you can't do much better than Assumption-bound guard Morgan O'Brien in that regard.

With Andover expected to level off following the graduation of one of the MIAA's best ever (Boudreau), we're most likely looking at Reading starting the year at No. 1 in our statewide girls' poll, which will be released later this preseason.

Fierce, Fierce City A
Over the offseason, the Boston City League voted overwhelmingly to split into three tiers for boys basketball, based on competitive balance. And with it, the city's "A" division instantly becomes the state's toughest league. City A is comprised of Brighton, New Mission, Madison Park, Charlestown and East Boston -- all teams expected to start the season in our statewide Top 25 poll -- and with the new scheduling setup, we're looking at appointment viewing in the city nearly every night.

Charlestown-Eastie, Mission-Brighton and Eastie-Madison are the city's three fiercest basketball rivalries. Now, on top of those series, we're getting two installments of Mission-Madison, Brighton-Eastie, Charlestown-Mission, Madison-Brighton, and so forth. Brighton and MP figure to be the favorites here, but this is going to be an absolute grinder of a league. Of the highest degree.

Swat Team
Anyone that watched the University of Kentucky last season can tell you how valuable Anthony Davis was despite an unpolished offensive game. Heck, he was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four despite going just 1-for-10 from the field in the championship game.

Last year our Defensive Player of the Year award went to a guard, Stoughton's Marcus Middleton, but I'm looking at a number of frontcourt shot-blockers to contend for the award. Any conversation about swatters in the MIAA has to begin with New Mission's Isshiah Coleman, but keep an eye on Cambridge's Fredens Deneus, a 6-foot-6 junior who is expected to have a breakout season. Rockland's Tyler Gibson, a UMass-Lowell commit, will alter many a shot in the South Shore League. Also keep an eye on Holy Name's Dan Kegbeh, only 6-foot-1 but blessed with some impressive ups.

On the girls' side, Holy Name's Brianna Frias is my early favorite for Defensive Player of the Year. The 6-foot junior committed to Providence over the summer, and averaged six blocks per game last season as the Naps went 20-0 in the regular season and captured the No. 1 seed in Division 1 Central.

Sizzlin' Sophs
Across the state, there are a number of Class of 2015 players to get excited about. Springfield Central's Chris Baldwin has yet to play in an MIAA game, having played his freshman season down the street at Hillside School, but he is already garnering significant hype. Wakefield's Bruce Brown showed freak athletic ability at times during his freshman campaign for the Warriors, and figures to be regarded as one of the state's elite by season's end. Same for Mansfield's Brendan Hill and St. John's of Shrewsbury's Davon Jones.

Central Catholic junior Tyler Nelson is on the short list as everyone's favorite shooter, and deservedly so, but Newton North sophomore guard Tommy Mobley is as automatic as they come. He plays a different role for the Tigers than his older brother, 6-foot-8 Yale forward Greg Kelley, did several years ago. But when you talk about the elite shooters in the state, Mobley has the potential to be in that conversation.

Also keep an eye on Falmouth guard Craig Green, a three-sport star who's already on the radar for track and field. He turned many heads last June, when he placed third in New Englands in the 100-meter dash. He has run as fast as a 10.6 in the event so far in his young career.

On the girls' side, we all know the capabilities of Braintree's Molly Reagan. The 6-foot-1 center was a key cog in the Wamps' run to the Division 1 South title last March, and she already holds Division 1 offers. On the flip side, Archbishop Williams' Jaylen Williams committed to Penn State this past summer despite playing limited minutes for the Bishops.

But the potential speaks for itself. For one, Williams is 6-foot-3 and long. For another, there is plenty of pedigree. She is the daughter of former New England Patriots defensive lineman Brent Williams, and the younger sister of two high Division 1 college football players -- North Carolina offensive tackle Brennan Williams, and Ohio State linebacker Camren Williams.

Open Waters in the North
I'm not sure which will be the more interesting race in the North -- Division 1 girls, or Division 2 boys.

In Division 1 girls, we're looking at a number of contenders in the North. Nobody's counting out Andover in spite of the talent graduated, but it should be an interesting race in the Merrimack Valley Conference with Central Catholic and Billerica figuring to start the year high in many polls. Lincoln-Sudbury will be another contender, led by Lafayette-bound forward Ashley Lutz, as will be Lynn English and reigning Northeastern Conference MVP Catherine Stinson. The ultimate wild card might be Cambridge, led by Georgia Tech-bound guard Donnaizha Fountain. And don't count out Somerville, either, with Indira Evans in the fold.

Division 2 North will be an interesting bracket. New Mission returns a strong core, but so does Brighton, behind returning All-State guard Malik James, forwards Nick Simpson and Prince Unaegbu, and one of the state's best shooters, Daivon Edwards. Ditto Wakefield, with Bruce Brown expected to have a breakout year alongside seniors Kendall Hamilton and Mikol Blake-Green.


G - Jameilen Jones, Sr., BC High
G - Tyler Nelson, Jr., Central Catholic
G - Malik James, Jr., Brighton
F - Kamari Robinson, Sr., Springfield Central
F - Tyler Gibson, Sr., Rockland

G - Donnaizha Fountain, Sr., Cambridge
G - Sarah Hope, Sr., Medway
G/F - Olivia Healy, Sr., Reading
F - Ashley Lutz, Sr., Lincoln-Sudbury
C - Molly Reagan, Soph., Braintree


Ryan Kilian
Editor-in-Chief, New England Prep Stars

Central Reign
Can Central Catholic represent Eastern Massachusetts in the state finals this season in Division 1? Central returns a battle tested and veteran group that represented EMass Division 1 as the top seed in last season’s MIAA tournament. Central boasts key returnees Tyler Nelson, Joel Berroa, Doug Gemmell and Nick Cambio.

Veteran Sophomore Talent
Mansfield’s Brendan Hill and Wakefield’s Bruce Brown are two of the top returning players in Massachusetts. They are also only sophomores. Both sophomores started and lead their respective teams deep into tournament play as freshman and we can expect even bigger seasons from both this year.

Best Frontcourt?
Massachusetts has a very strong group of point guards this season but the depth in the frontcourt is down in part of the continued flood of players to prep schools. New Mission (Nate Anderson and Isshiah Coleman) and Central Catholic (Gemmell and Cambio) are at the top of the frontcourt ranks but look out for North Andover and Charlestown to also have improved front lines with the development of returning veterans as well as additions of new talent to the mix.

Replacing Boudreau
It will be impossible to replace two-time Miss Basketball Nicole Boudreau (Boston College), but Andover does return senior Devon Caveany, and the glue of the squad in top defenders Jackie and Rebecca Alois. Expect some more classic Central Catholic and Andover battles for years to come in the MVC.

Special time for City of Braintree
The city of Braintree boasts some the best young female talent in the state, with Braintree High School and Archbishop Williams sharing city quarters.

Braintree returns Coach of the Year Kristen McDonnell and a lineup featuring returning senior Rachel Norton, and sophomores Ashley Russell, Bridget Herlihy, and Molly Reagan. Archbishop Williams returns Southern New Hampshire commits Olivia Conrad and Sara Ryan along with Alana Gilmer and Penn State commit Jaylen Williams.


G - Bruce Brown, Soph., Wakefield
G - Tyler Nelson, Jr., Central Catholic
G - Jameilen Jones, Sr., BC High
F - Brendan Hill, Soph., Mansfield
F - Kamari Robinson, Sr., Springfield Central

G - Kayla Burton, Sr., Newton South
G - Donaizha Fountain, Sr., Cambridge Rindge
G - Olivia Healy, Sr., Reading
G - Tajanay Veiga-Lee, Sr., Fenway
F - Saliah Serrette, Sr., Weston


Chris Bradley
ESPN Boston correspondent

Springfield Central Is Back
Saying that Kamari Robinson and sophomore transfer Chris Baldwin are the best frontcourt in the state is no stretch. Robinson helped lead Central to last year’s division 1 state title, averaging a double double while the Golden Eagles went undefeated against MIAA opponents. The 6-foot-7 Baldwin is already drawing in interest from high major division 1 college programs. A strong, athletic forward who is known for his rebounding and sky-rising dunks, he’ll make quite a duo with Robinson, a member of last year’s ESPN Boston All-State Team.

Senior Cornelius Tyson could be primed for a big year as well. The 6-foot-1 guard made quite a showing in last year’s state championship game against Brockton, knocking down four 3-pointers in the second half to lead Central to the Division 1 title.

Can anyone knock off St. John's of Shrewsbury?
The Inter-High has two legitimate Top 25 teams in Worcester South and Doherty. Will this finally be the year that St. John’s doesn’t run away with the Division 1 tournament in Central Mass.? The Pioneers have won five consecutive Central Mass. Division 1 championships, and return yet another talented core from last year’s team. Sophomore point guard Davon Jones has already asserted himself as one of the best guards in the western half of the state, juniors Charlie Murray and TJ Kelley will be a tough duo on the post, and 6-foot-5 senior Ken Harrington is one of the best shooters in central Mass.

Brighton looking for revenge
Last year’s loss to Mahar in the Division 2 state title game was demoralizing to say the least for the Bengals, but another year of maturity should help Brighton come tournament time this year. Junior playmaking guard Malik James will be one of the very best in the MIAA, and he’ll have plenty of weapons around him with forward Nick Simpson and guards Theo Oribhabor and Daivon Edwards. The Boston City League will be a rock fight this year, but battle-tested Brighton will reap the benefits of a tough schedule come tournament time.

New Mission young, but talented
Sophomore guards Greg Bridges, Randy Glenn, and Juwan Gooding will make for quite a show this year when put together with 6-foot-5 forward Isshiah Coleman and 6-foot-7 forward Nate Anderson. The Titans will be young, with less experience at the guard position than many of their opponents, but when all is said and done this could end up being the most talented team in the state this year.

Who will emerge in D3?
Picking favorites in Division 3 is like splitting hairs. Wareham has Darien Fernandez, a waterbug considered one of the best point guards in the state. Danvers returns four starters from last year’s state title team. Quaboag has one of the best inside-out duos in D3 with Thomas Jankins and sophomore Jake Wisniewski. Hopedale has a deep, versatile lineup. Whitinsville Christian has won three straight central Mass. championships. Out in Pittsfield, St. Joseph Central returns the majority of their core from last year’s state finals team—including scoring guard Taverick "Tank" Roberson. Any of these teams could emerge and make a deep run into the tournament in February and March.


G - Malik James, Jr., Brighton
G - Tyler Nelson, Jr., Central Catholic
F - Jameilen Jones, Sr., BC High
F - Kamari Robinson, Sr., Springfield Central
F - Tyler Gibson, Sr., Rockland

G - Kayla Burton, Sr., Newton South
G - Sarah Hope, Sr., Medway
G - Donnaizha Fountain, Sr., Cambridge
F - Casey McLaughlin, Sr., Central Catholic
F - Olivia Healy, Sr., Reading