BOSTON -– In just his 11th season as a head coach, Cory McCarthy earned his 200th win when his No. 2 New Mission boys basketball team cruised past Snowden, 66-50, in the semifinals of the Boston City League championship at Madison Park on Wednesday.
The best coaching decision McCarthy made wasn’t one that had him drawing X’s and O’s. It wasn’t even about personnel on the floor. It was simply just trusting his team already knew what they needed to do to punch their ticket to Thursday’s final against East Boston.
“This one was all my guys,” said McCarthy. “I’m not the one playing, so at halftime, I let the seniors do their thing. They talked to the team and they all came back and said ‘this is what we want to run.’ I told them ‘Hey, it’s all yours’ and they did it. That’s something for the last couple weeks I’ve been really stressing, I want those guys to run the team.”
Mission sported just a four point lead when they went into half, but opened the third quarter on a 10-2 run to open a 12 point lead. Snowden rallied late in the quarter and cut the lead back to five by the end of the quarter.
The Titans (18-2) put the game away in the opening minute of the fourth, scoring the first eight points of the quarter to extend their lead to 13. Snowden was never able to get the gap back into single digits, and Mission poured in eight of the game’s final 10 points to seal the impressive win.
One of the biggest reasons New Mission raced away from Snowden after halftime was that the Titans were able to cool the burning hot hand of Javaughn Kittrell. He poured in 12 points in the first two quarters, and seemed capable of scoring from anywhere in the gym.
So, how was Mission able to hold him to just three second-half points?
“Tyrique Lee,” said McCarthy. “He said ‘I want to guard him, and I want no help.’ If you get us in a no help situation and it’s working, we start playing real good. He’s not scared of anything, and he’s not scared of anybody. Shaq could’ve been out there and he probably would’ve wanted to guard him.”
Added Lee: “I always tell coach in practice, let me get the best player -– no help. I’ll take him one on one. Face guard, no catch, nothing.”
The sophomore point guard also chipped in six points, five assists and four steals in the win.
Double Trouble: The duo of Bam Rivers and Asante Saniford owned the paint throughout the game for New Mission, combining on a whopping 30 rebounds -– including 10 offensive.
Rivers dominated down low all night, fighting through Snowden’s physical approach to net a game-high 21 points to go with his 18 rebounds.
“After every game, I come out with cuts and everything,” said Rivers. “I can deal with scars, or bruises, or whatever, I’ll be fine. It’s worth to be winning these games.”
Saniford went to the bench early in the game when foul trouble limited his minutes, but down the stretch, the Franklin Pierce bound forward completely took over. He had eight of 14 points in the fourth. He also grabbed a dozen rebounds to finish with his own double-double.
Shaquan Murray chipped in with 12 points in the win that will pit New Mission against an East Boston team they beat twice already this year, including once by 16 points.
“We did beat them twice in the regular season, but in this type of tournament, you can’t expect nothing less than their best,” said Rivers. “We’re going to come out playing out hardest like we always do.”