EAST BOSTON, Mass. -– Charlestown lost its first two games by a combined 53 points, but don’t let that fool you, as the Townies have now strung together two straight impressive wins. First over No. 17 Brighton on Tuesday by 19 points, and then a 53-48 victory over cross-town rival No. 12 East Boston (4-1) tonight.
“We weren’t really in sync as a team and didn’t trust each other as we do now,” said junior forward Alijah Robinson. “Those two losses really woke us up and we just had to come together.”
Robinson took matters into his own hands Thursday scoring a game-high 16 points leading Charlestown (2-2) to their second victory of the year. Robinson actually attended East Boston as a freshman and had his first dunk in the Eastie gymnasium.
“I just came out here with a mindset like I have to play like it is my last game in high school forever and I needed to compete better than anyone else,” the 6-foot-8 center said. “I think I did really well tonight.”
The Townies actually trailed 10-8 after the first quarter, but picked up the pace in the second scoring the first nine points and never looked back as they went into the locker room with a 27-19 lead. A combination of a tenacious full-court press and clutch shooting put them ahead at intermission.
Eastie fought back early on in the second half, cutting the deficit to just two at 31-29 midway through the quarter, but that was where Williams and the Townies exploded, going on a 15-2 run spanning midway through the third to the beginning stages of the fourth.
Charlestown had three dunks on the run, including one by Robinson, who scored nine of the Townies' 15 points. They led 46-32 with just over six minutes left in the game, but the Jets wouldn’t go down quietly.
The Jets went on a 14-0 run of their own to pull within one at 49-48 with 52.7 seconds left in the game.
Following a Charlestown timeout, junior guard Taris Wilson drove to the basket, drawing a blocking foul and then hit one of two free throws, giving the Townies a two-point lead with 37.2 seconds left.
On the ensuing possession the Jets turned the ball over on a bad pass resulting in a backcourt violation. Williams was then fouled and made one of two free throws giving the Townies a three-point lead and the Jets one last shot with 15.1 seconds to play.
Sophomore guard Marcus Shaw’s corner three rimmed out and Charlestown’s Colin Collins added a fast break layup to seal the five-point win.
“I was never comfortable with that lead,” Charlestown head coach Edson Cardoso said. “When you come in here the gym is tight and the fans are yelling, so mentally you have to be prepared to play throughout the course of the game.”
Collins finished with 13 points, while junior forward Freddy Oliveria added 12 in the win.
Coming off of his game-winning full court shot and Sports Center No. 1 top play, Eastie's Pat Santos was limited to just three points. Sophomore Rasheed Bell led the Jets with 12 points.
Winners of two straight, the Townies are now starting to find their true identity, but still aren’t completely where they want to be.
“We’re just adjusting guys right now,” Cardoso said. “We will probably go 10 or 12 deep because like I said our identity is starting to come out, but we still have some work to do.”
Charlestown’s work is not done before the holiday break, with a huge Saturday afternoon visit from St. John’s Prep on tap.
“We are looking forward to the next game and not dwelling on the past, just getting ready for the next one,” Robinson said.
PLAYING THROUGH PAIN
Despite his monster performance, Robinson was actually playing with an injured right finger -- an injury suffered in Tuesday’s game against Brighton.
“I was like 'Jeez, you shot the ball pretty well with a broken hand',” Cardoso said about Robinson. “I was surprised, he was even hitting three’s (two). I wrapped up his hand, and it is still swollen, but we just have one more game before break so he can rest for two weeks.”
Cardoso was impressed with the toughness Robinson showed, playing virtually the entire game after sitting the games first three minutes.
“He is very tough, we want him to get tougher, and he needs to get tougher,” Cardoso said. “Tonight, he proved that through an injury he could go out there and play his heart out.”