ROXBURY, Mass. -- East Boston pulled off a 59-57 overtime win to advance in the Boston City League Boys Basketball tournament. East Boston will face the winner of New Mission and Snowden International High School (game in progress) tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. at Madison Park High School.
“We played as a team in the beginning and we started getting tired and started letting the game slip away,” said East Boston junior guard Dion Knight.
The Jets were up by nine at the end of the first, but ended the half up by just one. The game was a tug of war match which the Jets pulled off.
“In the end, we came back together as a team,” added Knight.
“They just had the hunger, they wanted it a little more than us,” said Dorchester coach Johnny Williams. “We missed some assignments; we didn’t switch on certain pick and rolls.” Coach Williams also mentioned missed free throws as a serious shortcoming for the Bears tonight (4-15). “If we hit our free throws, we are talking about a different ball game.”
Thrilling Overtime: Dorchester got the tip to start overtime, and junior Justin Clarke drew first blood. Knight then completed a three-point play to put Eastie ahead at 49-48. Dorchester’s Markus Neale hit a three pointer to regain the lead for the Bears at 51-49. Knight was fouled down the other end of the floor and made his first free throw but missed the second.
Leon Sealy dropped one from 5 feet out with 2:35 left in the game to put Dorchester ahead by three points at 53-50.
East Boston’s Marcus Shaw took a trip to the free throw line and made the first but missed the second shot, cutting Dorchester’s lead to one at 2:26. Junior John Mitchell was able to corral another two points for the Jets to take the lead 54-53. But Neale again found the bottom of the basket on the wing, and swung the lead back to the Bears at 55-54. Mitchell went to the free throw line again and repeated his previous make and miss series (his only missed free throws on the evening) to tie up the game at 55 all with under two minutes to play.
Knight was able to sink two free throws for Eastie with 1:15 left to play to take the lead, but a strong drive by Dorchester’s Khail Newson knotted the game at 57 with 38 seconds remaining in overtime.
Dion Knight -- who had scored 33 points up to that point in the game -- dished off to Mitchell, who made the shot that put Eastie ahead, and was ultimately the final basket.
“I told Dion before the last play, ‘John’s going to be open’, and it takes a lot for a kid like that to be unselfish instead of trying to be the hero," Eastie head coach Shawn Brown said. "He trusted in John, who wasn’t having a good game at that point – he had just been pulled because he wasn’t rebounding. For Dion to put that trust in him showed the character of him as a player and of this team.”
Dorchester’s Tevon Smallpiece intercepted an inbounds pass and coach Johnny Williams called a timeout with :00.8 left on the clock, but the Bears were unable to produce the half court shot necessary to change the outcome of the game.
Markus Neale Gets Grand: Tonight, Markus Neale scored his 1,000th point, which was recognized during a timeout in the game.
“[West Roxbury’s] Marty Sommers did a great job with him for three years and we were lucky to be able to welcome Markus into our family," Williams said. "He is a major part of our team – he makes us go.”
“It felt pretty good,” Neale said after the game, the bitter sweetness showing on his face. “But it would’ve felt better if we could have gotten the win.”