BOSTON – Both Everett and East Boston started slowly in the opening game of the BABC tournament at Reggie Lewis Center, but the Jets woke up around halftime.
East Boston wrapped a 22-5 run around the break as they ran away from Everett in a decisive 59-44 victory.
As Jets head coach Shawn Brown will tell you, his players did it with defense.
“That’s what we hang our hat on,” said Brown. “We have to be able to defend. Being small, we’ve got to stop the ball from getting into the paint. For us, it’s just creating havoc, getting turnovers, and turning that into offense.”
By extending their defensive pressure, the Jets (8-3) were able to force Everett (8-3) into 17 turnovers throughout the second half. They turned several steals into fast break points, and attacked the rim enough to get Crimson Tide starters Jordan McAfee and Gary Clark into foul trouble.
“We throw a lot of different looks out there, and try to find what works best,” Brown said about the switch to a more aggressive defensive scheme. “We thought we could get some pressure on them and try and create turnovers.”
Hustle Pays Off: East Boston didn’t just win the fight for loose balls around midcourt, the Jets actually out-rebounded a much taller Everett team 31-27 in this contest.
Their effort on the offensive glass helped the Jets overcome a relatively quiet first-half performance. Eastie shot just 3 of 16 from long range against Everett’s zone, but maintained a 26-20 lead going into the break by producing points on several second chance opportunities.
“That’s surprising to me,” Brown said when he learned about his team’s plus rebounding margin, “Because one of the weaknesses of this team is that we’re small, so we don’t rebound well. But we’re always preaching rebounding, and that seems like it was the difference in terms of our effort.
He continued, “My guys got kind of tentative because they were missing, and I told them to keep shooting because it will come. Offense is fickle, you’ve got no control over that but if you stick with it, those shots will fall.”
The Jets shot a better percentage from the perimeter in the second half, but it was the relentless effort of seniors Kevin Sinatra, Amilcar Guevera, Wilfredo Soto, and Rasheed Bell that allowed them to expand their lead.
Basketball After Breakfast: The 10 a.m. tip time clearly affected both teams, as they each turned it over four times, and combined for just 19 points in the opening quarter.
Yet Everett never found it’s rhythm after that slow start, and the high-energy play of East Boston had a lot to do with it. The Crimson Tide finished with 26 turnovers to just seven assists, and failed to score more than 10 points in any of the first three quarters.
“Playing early games is real tough, but I didn’t need to give my guys much motivation. We’re a team full of seniors, and they knew what they needed to do to beat a tough opponent,” Brown said afterwards.
Everett’s only two losses this season came during afternoon games in BABC tournaments, so there’s no reason to panic about the Crimson Tide’s chances in the Greater Boston League.
For Eastie, a win over a highly ranked team should inspire confidence, and add to the Jets momentum as they’ve now won four of their last five.
“We’ve let a couple games get away that we shouldn’t have, so my players were eager to get back out there and give a good effort,” said Brown. “Hopefully this is a momentum boost for us going forward.”
East Boston 59, Everett 44
EB 9 17 21 12 --- 59
EV 10 10 10 14 --- 44
East Boston – Dion Knight (19 points, 3 steals)
East Boston –Kevin Sinatra (10 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists)
East Boston –Amilcar Guevera (10 points, 8 rebounds, 2 steals)
Everett – Jonathan Casseus (15 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists)
Everett – Jordan McAfee (6 points, 4 rebounds, 3 blocks)
Everett – Gary Clark (5 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks)