BOSTON -- Daivon Edwards took one step towards the front of the three-point line, motioned a shot crisply through the net and smirked over his shoulder at the Bengals supporters. Within seconds the senior nailed another trey along the sidelines to give Brighton its first double-digit lead midway through the final quarter.
It was all too easy for the senior guard and his junior teammate Nick Simpson in the fourth quarter, as the pair totaled five 3-pointers, and 22 of the Bengals' final 24 points, at the Madidome last night.
Combining for 30 points from behind the arc, the Bengals' hot shooters led No. 14 Brighton (4-3, 2-1) to a 69-57 win over host Madison Park (1-4, 0-2) in the teams' first battle as members of the Boston City League's newly-aligned North division.
“It was all about the guards,” said Simpson. “They penetrated and kicked to me, I made shots, and we just worked the ball around as a team.”
Added Edwards, “The last two games I (have) showed up and it feels good for me."
Simpson, a 6-foot-4 forward, scored 28 points -- including six 3-pointers -- and grabbed four rebounds, while Edwards tallied 20 points (four treys) and five rebounds.
Planted on the outer corner of the endline, Simpson buried a pair of three's early in the fourth to prompt a nine-point winning run which left the reigning Division 2 North champs up 54-46 after four minutes. Despite dropping a jumper to MP junior Johnny Bowden, Edwards sandwich a Cardinals' layup with his final two trifectas for a 60-50 advantage with 2:50 left.
“We like to teach the guys (to) take what the defense gives you and it was open,” said Brighton coach Hugh Coleman of his team's deep shot. “If we can get the ball inside and get some layups, the defense will collapse which will open up the wings more.”
A three-point jumper by Cardinals' junior Terrell Matthews cut the margin to 62-54 with two minutes remaining, but Simpson pushed the MP Machine down by double-digits for good with another three just a few seconds later.
Madison Park jumped ahead early in the game by scoring the first nine points, including five from senior David Stewart (13 points, 10 rebounds). A give-and-go jumper assisted by Matthews to junior Jaylen Bell put the Cardinals ahead 9-0 at 4:38 in the first quarter.
“We came out with a lot of energy and confidence,” said MP coach Dennis Wilson. “Malik (James), who is the engine that runs their machine, made some nice passes and shots (to) get the key people involved. It became just a dog fight.”
Trailing 16-3 at 2:30 in the first quarter the Bengals speed up the pace and forced turnovers to score eight straight points and cut the margin to 16-11 a minute and a half later. Simpson scrambled to the back-corner on a counter to nail his first of two falling-over three-points, while junior Malik James followed the effort up with a jumper along the foul line for Brighton's first lead, 20-19 at 6:40 in the second quarter.
“(Madison Park) did a great job of getting the ball inside and getting layups,” said Coleman. “We got to a slow start in terms of hitting (our) shots and turning the ball over. We just tried to tell the guys to be patient.”
After being tied 30-30 at half, the teams traded leads four times and end the third quarter with MP up a slim 46-45. Free throws hurt MP, which was 11-of-24 from the foul line.
The Emperor and His Chess: Wilson threw out a wide variety of defensive fronts in hopes of keeping the Bengals from reaching a rhythm. His zone attacks included a 1-2-2, an extended 2-3, a 1-3-1, and a diamond-and-one with the focus on James (11 points) at the guard position.
“You have to change the pace, (because) it is a chess game,” said Wilson. “I got a young team (and) I lost four starters from last year. You have to close out (on jumps shots) and make them put the ball on the floor.”
MP has only three seniors from last years' Div 1 South finalist squad.