Boston High School: Paul Baker
March, 19, 2011
By Matt Noonan | ESPNBoston.com
WORCESTER, Mass. – New Mission celebrated their first ever Division 2 state championship at the DCU Center on Saturday, as the Titans beat Northbridge, 67-57.
“I can’t be happier,” exclaimed Mission head coach Cory McCarthy after his team's exciting victory.
This also marks the first time in MIAA history that a team has won the Division 4 and Division 2 titles in back to back years. The Titans memorably blew out Boston Cathedral on the TD Garden floor last March to capture their first state title in school history.
“It feels real good,” said Mission senior guard Darius Davis. “At the beginning of the year we set the goal to be at the DCU Center [and win] a state championship”
The Titans celebrated the win by dumping apple juice onto McCarthy’s suit in which their head coach explained the significance of the drink when he stated, “[My] guys watch NBA. It’s not champagne, it’s apple juice [and] it’s not bad either.”
After winning the opening tip, New Mission (22-4) began the game by playing impressive team basketball, as they scored baskets in the paint, as well as beyond the arc. The Titans also utilized their full-court press, which provided a great deal of pressure on Northbridge’s offense.
“Their quickness on the press hurt us and they just played really well, they’re just a great team,” said Northbridge head coach Paul Baker.
Yet, despite an early 10-3 by the Titans, the Rams attempted to respond to their poor start with their senior guard, Corey Pryor, who finished the game with 17 points. Pryor appeared to be the only member of the Rams' (20-6) high school squad who could drive, shoot and rebound against New Mission’s defense.
“They’re a very talented team and I feel like we came out probably a little scared of intimated. We just weren’t ready for that type of talent,” said Pryor said.
Although, Northbridge had no answer when it came to stopping New Missions senior guards Samir McDaniels and Darius Davis, as well as junior guard Kachi Nzerem, who combined for 48 of their 67 points.
“All three are just very good. They do everything. They shoot the ball well, they take it to the hoop, they rebound, they get it off the glass, they’re tough to stop,” said Baker.
“I’ll tell you one thing, they’ve been together, they stuck together, they’re four different personalities and many times, usually in those situations its tough to manage, but we were able to pull it out. They were able to stick together and pull it out because these guys are high character guys,” said McCarthy.
New Mission extended their large lead during the second half, as well as forced the Rams to beat them from outside the paint, which didn’t seem to work. Northbridge only converted 17 of its 45 shots from the field.
Despite their large lead, the Titans continued their game plan of putting the ball down low and scoring easy baskets in the paint.
“We were so focused on getting the ball inside,” said New Mission head coach Cory McCarthy. “Once we got the ball inside we thought good things would happen.”
Although, once the fourth quarter began, it had already been decided that New Mission was going to leave Worcester as champions, which allowed McCarthy to allow his players one final curtain call, as well as a hug after leaving the floor.
March, 17, 2011
By Brendan Hall | ESPNBoston.com
WORCESTER, Mass. -- There is cleaning up on the glass. And then there is flat out owning.
In last night's Division 2 Central/West boys basketball state semifinal at the DCU Center, Northbridge might as well have fallen unto the latter. The Rams controlled the glass, especially defensively, holding a 39-15 advantage over Western Mass champ Sabis International as they used a strong third quarter to cruised to a 57-41 victory.
Northbridge (20-5) moves on to face Eastern Mass champ New Mission in Saturday's Division 2 state championship at the DCU Center.
"We knew we had to control the game, because they (Sabis) are very tenacious," said senior forward Thomas Murphy, who combined with his younger brother, junior Harrison, to pull down 14 rebounds. "We focused on helping, because we knew they were going to beat our guards at some point; and rotating, because as long as we help and rotate, we'll still be able to get a hand up, and then we'll still be on the box. It doesn't matter if you're covering somebody else's man, as long as you're covering somebody we'll still get the rebound."
Said Northbridge head coach Paul Baker, "They (Sabis) are very athletic, they get on the glass, and we really focused on rebounding tonight. We've been a good rebounding team all year, but we really went after it tonight."
While at times Murphy's assertion of the backcourt play by Sabis (15-9) proved true, with Jahson Hollett (13 points) and Xavier Garcia (13) giving trouble with their dribble penetration, it was the play of one of Northbridge's own guards in the third quarter that lifted the spirits. Senior Corey Pryor (24 points) sparked an 11-1 run to open the third quarter and extend their lead to 35-20, with three nifty baskets.
First, he took a handoff from Thomas Murphy on the right wing, planted and sunk an 18-footer near the corner. Pryor then grabbed the loose board on the ensuing Sabis possession, ran the length of the court and lofted up a soft finger roll while twisting his body to avoid a charging call. He then capped the run and made it 35-20 with a three-pointer just a few feet behind the spot he had just sank an 18-footer a few possessions ago.
"I just tried to let the game come to me," Pryor said. "I don't try to force shots -- if someone's there, I try to give the ball off to them. But just lately, everything's been falling for me, so I'm just going with it."
In all, Northbridge outscored Sabis 19-9 in the third quarter, including a 13-2 advantage on the glass. And all of it left Sabis head coach James Mack dejected afterwards.
"I thought we lacked energy the first three quarters," Mack said. "I don't think it was just the third. We didn't do a great job on the boards, we didn't do a great job of containing, our transition defense was not very good. I think that let us down."
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