ROXBURY, Mass. -- Like several other of his Charlestown teammates, Akosa Maduegbanum couldn't help but snicker when the Townies' opponent in this Boston City Championships semifinal, West Roxbury, came onto the court wearing green shirts, with "We Run This 'Town'" written across the front in Townie red.
"I kinda scratched my head and I said, 'I'm a Townie. I run this town'," the 6-foot-4 junior swingman cracked.
And true to his word, the Townies defended Bunker Hill from all the way across the city on Malcolm X Boulevard, as they cruised to a 79-65 victory over the Raiders at Madison Park High School, and move on to face archrival East Boston for a third time this season, in the City Finals at the same location tonight.
As expected, the highly-touted Maduegbanum filled up the stat sheet with his explosive athleticism, charging through the lane on fast breaks en route to a team-high 20 points, and added seven rebounds. But the real key to this game relied in the manner in which forward CeeJae Dowell muscled his way to racking up 15 boards. Most importantly, eight of those came in the final frame, as the Raiders (15-6) -- known for their skilled shooting -- lined up perimeter shot after perimeter shot. He was also crucial on the Townies' end, as seven of his 15 rebounds were on the offensive glass.
"CeeJae, he's been carrying us all season long, defensive rebounds, offensive rebounds," Charlestown head coach Edson Cardoso said. "It gets ugly, it gets nasty, but he's been big, and really he's been the guy that's been carrying us all year."
Said Dowell, "At first it was hard in the fourth quarter, because my legs weren't that strong, but I had to kick in. That's all."
The Townies went on a 17-3 run in the second quarter, and went into the break with a 32-25 lead. Westie continued to chip away at the Townies, trailing 51-41 headed into the final frame and eventually cutting the lead to four with four minutes to go in the contest. Freshman Damion Smith (11 points) hauled in an errant three-point attempt by Charlestown's Iser Barnes, and heaved a long lob to fellow frosh Mike Rodriguez for an easy breakaway layup.
Westie wouldn't register another field goal again until a little over a minute remained in the contest, by then the Townies already ahead 75-59. Overall, the Townies outscored Westie 15-4 over the final four minutes, filled with hard-charging drives to the lane to draw fouls, and one big one-handed slam by junior Tyrik Jackson (10 points).
"Alot of people are expecting us to lose. We've got targets on our back," Maduegbanum said. "We kind of played to show people who [we are], to prove people wrong."
Seniors Roger Paul and Jason Hall led the way for Westie with 13 and 14 points, respectively, while Rony Fernandes was the fourth and final Townie hitting double-figures with 12.