Boston High School: Kyle Jimenez-Fox

Recap: No. 21 Eastie 68, No. 22 MP 42

February, 2, 2012

EAST BOSTON, Mass. -- Sometimes it's just a matter of getting back to basics, and doing what you do best.

In the case of the East Boston boys basketball team, what they do best is play defense. The Jets know they won't fill up a stat sheet in the offensive end. What head coach Malcolm Smith loves to see, however, is numbers spilling into the margins in the turnover column and at least an even matchup in the rebounding section.

No. 21 Eastie rediscovered its dogged, defensive mentality at the right time, forcing 26 turnovers in a 68-42 victory over No. 22 Madison Park Thursday night at East Boston High.

It was a big win for the Jets (12-4) on a number of fronts. First, it puts them up by a game atop the Boston City League's North division ahead of both Madison Park (12-2) and Charlestown, giving them an edge for one of the division's two spots for the upcoming City playoffs. It also wipes away the bad taste of Tuesday's 73-66 loss to the Townies.

And finally, this win was about Eastie getting back to the roots of what has made it a successful basketball team.

"It was a reality check for us on Tuesday night over at Charlestown, in terms of us being a family, us having to fight to the finish and not taking possessions off," admitted Smith. "The bottom line is, it took 15 games for us to realize we're a family, that we need every single person on this team to contribute, both defensively and offensively."

Missing a pair of regulars meant that contributions had to come from everywhere at both ends of the floor. Zack Gattereau led the offense with 15 points, Kyle Jimenez-Fox added 13 and Kenny Ramos chipped in with 12. Defensively, led by Travon Moore and a strong effort off the bench from Algino Jean, the Jets forced 11 of the 26 turnovers in the first quarter and out-rebounded the bigger Cardinals, 36-35.

Gattereau was big in the first half, dropping a 3-pointer at the end of a 12-1, first quarter run and scoring 11 of his 15 in the first 16 minutes. The MP Machine was able to cut the deficit to four points (22-18) midway through the second, but Eastie closed out the half with six free throws and an 11-5 spurt for a 33-23 advantage at the break.

"We were shorthanded this game because we didn't have all of our players so all of us had to bring extra intensity on the defensive end and that's what we did, turn defense to offense easily," Gattereau said. "I was just trying to get offensive boards to get me going and hope my teammates would find me after that."

The Cardinals appeared ready to rally in the third, but every time they put a couple of baskets together, Jimenez-Fox was there to knock down an open three. He did so three times, and each trey put the Jets back up by double digits.

"Our objective was to just play hard and the way we prepared in practice," Jimenez-Fox said. "We had to fast break to beat this team. We weren't trying too many set plays. Our guards were driving down the middle and the wings would collapse and they kicked it out to the wing and I was wide open."

Strong defense makes for a happy coach: Smith couldn't but help smile after watching his squad turn in a superlative defensive performance. The Jets mixed parts of a 1-3-1 zone with a lot of basic man-on-man defense and timely trapping in the corners with great success.

And it was truly a team effort. Six players had at least four rebounds, Gattereau added to his offensive night by keeping close tabs on MP big man Dakim Murray (six points, 12 boards), and everyone on the floor seemed to have a steal or at least be in the mode of disrupting Madison's flow.

"Travon Moore brings more defensive flair than anybody and more grit and inten sity, and Algino Jean came off the bench and sparked our defense tremendously today," Smith praised. "Those two were big and Charles Hines, a sophomore, came off the bench and got a key steal. The thing I'm more proud of than anything, it was 85 percent man to man today and that right there showed the grit of this team."

"I don't usually celebrate wins or get too gassed up about them, but this one felt very good," he continued. "Not just because it was a rivalry but because we got back to being who we were."

Lamenting a tough night: Madison Park coach Dennis Wilson is a veteran of the hardcourt wars, and he has been on both sides of the coin more times than even he would care to count over the years.

David Stewart led all scorers with 17 points and six rebounds and Rayshaw Matthews added 13, but Wilson found very little on the positive side to take away from this loss.

The Cardinals now have to beat Snowden and then capture a rematch with a resurgent Charlestown if they want to reach the City playoffs.

"They are a very aggressive team, they play hard they come at you and you have to be able to deal with that, keep your composure, find open people, attack the basket," Wilson explained. "We didn't do that. We lost our composure. We started off pretty good and then we fell apart, throwing the ball away. Last time I checked, we were wearing burgundy, they were wearing white. We were throwing it to white shirts. We panicked."

"Nobody played well. Nobody," he continued. "We didn't box, we threw the ball away, we didn't attack the basket, we didn't defend, we didn't do anything right. So all we can do, and sometimes good teams have days like that. I'm hoping we got it out of our system. We'll file this away, everyone will be honest with themselves and realize they didn't play well."

Recap: Blue Hills 25, East Boston 22

November, 30, 2011
FRANKLIN, Mass. -- David Neil was sort of messing around at practice Sunday kicking field goals, but Blue Hills coach Ed Catabia liked what he saw and decided to install the sophomore as his team’s field goal kicker - just in case.

As the saying goes, chance favors the prepared mind, and Neil proved his coach a prophet when he delivered a 26-yard boot that cleared the crossbar with 3.7 seconds remaining to give Blue Hills a 25-22 victory over East Boston in a Div. 4A semifinal matchup at Pisini Field.

“He was around 28-30 yards with accuracy,” said Catabia of watching Neil in practice. “We thought we’d just put in just in case we needed and it paid off. East Boston is a great team and we’ve had some great contests over the years. We knew this game could be coming down to who had the ball on the last possession.”

As for Neil, the 6-2, 195-pound offensive end/defensive lineman had never even tried a field goal prior to that Sunday practice.

“I was pretty much thinking, just don’t miss,” Neil said after his game-winner. “I was thinking about all the seniors on my team and how it could be their last game. I wanted to win and give them a chance at the ring.”

“This is actually a dream situation right now,” Neil continued. “I was surprised. I thought we were going to right down the middle or something like that. We don’t normally kick. I just got put in as a kicker the other day and luckily my coach had faith in me to put me in and kick the ball. I didn’t get all of it and was lucky it went in. It was a great relief.”

The buildup to Neil’s game-winner came through a back and forth slugfest on the ground. Neither team made a secret of its intent to run, and both were able to do so with great success.

Blue Hills (11-1) got things started right off the bat, going 61 yards on the game’s opening drive, and ending with a 25-yard touchdown run by Jordan Rotman (9-53 rushing). Eastie (7-4) came right back with a 62-yard march of its own and watched as Davonte Holloway went in from eight yards out. Both teams made their conversion rush tries and the game was tied at 8-8 with 2:03 left in the opening quarter.

Blue Hills muffed the ensuing kickoff, but Rotman got the ball right back with an interception at his own 31. The Warriors alternated carries between Vincent Burton, Isaiah Texeira and Rotman, with Burton (game-high 108 yards) finishing things off by bulling through the middle for a 9-yard TD.

Again, the Jets were in a hole, and again, they dug themselves out of it thanks to their own trio of backs. Holloway, Andre Rickerson (10-63 rushing) and Kyle Jimenez-Fox (10-63 rushing) each took turns rushing the ball and Eastie plowed down to the Warriors 8, where Rickerson finished it off around the left end. Blue Hills was able to tack on another score before the break, however, as Texeira (7-67 rushing) went in from the 7 and the Warriors took a 22-16 lead into halftime.

“Our defense didn’t stop them most of the evening and I told them at halftime, all we need is one stop. If we have one stop we have a viable shot at this game,” Catabia said. “We talked about playing at 100 percent, we talked about giving it all out on the field. We have 22 seniors and I tip my hat to every one of them. they took last year’s experience at the Super Bowl to another level this year and did a hell of a job.

Eastie used all but 36 seconds of the third quarter but got stopped at the Blue Hills 5 when Jean Vital stuffed Rickerson on fourth down. Rather than get down, the Jets forced a fumble that was recovered by Daniel Auch at the Warrior 17, and three plays later, Holloway scored his second touchdown to tie the game at 22-22.

“Our guys don’t quit,” said Eastie coach John Parziale. “It’s just a shame we ran out of time. We are the City champs, we won on Thanksgiving and finished 7-4. We did really well and we’re happy for the kids. But take nothing away from Blue Hills. They are great and I wish them the best in the Super Bowl.”

East Boston (7-4) 8 14 0 6 - 22
Blue Hills (11-1) 8 14 0 3 - 25

BH - Jordan Rotman 25 run (Vincent Burton rush)
EB - Davonte Holloway 8 run (Andre Rickerson rush)
BH - Burton 9 run (Burton rush)
EB - Rickerson 8 run (Rickerson rush)
BH - Isaiah Texeira 8 run (rush failed)
EB - Holloway 10 run (rush failed)
BH - David Neil 26 field goal