ROXBURY, Mass. -- On February 1st, two days after knocking off the No. 1 team in the state, Charlestown was edged out by East Boston 65-61, tying the season series between the rivals. Tonight, with the city championship on the line, the Townies jumped out to an early 12-4 lead, and held tight to defeat Eastie 63-56 to return the Boston City Championship trophy to Medford Street, as the Jets made Charlestown win a dog fight to earn that privelege.
“We got punched in the mouth last game,” said Charlestown junior guard Akosa Maduegbunam (15 points, five rebounds), the tournament's MVP, referring to the February 1st loss. “And we punched them back.”
In the fourth quarter, Charlestown was outscored 17-10, which was not surprising or impressive to East Boston (16-5) coach Malcolm Smith.
“It’s natural evolution,” said Smith. “A wounded beast, what happens? He starts to attack. When the chips are down, and there is nothing to lose, your wounded, so now you’re going to attack… I could deal with the loss, but I just didn’t think that we competed for four quarters. I think we competed for a quarter and a half.”
The scoring in the fourth for the Townies was also tempered by a promise Cardoso made to his players.
“I told the guys that the next person that takes a long jump shot and doesn’t run the set play is going to sit down,” Cardoso said. “They wanted to stay on the court and play, so they settled down, played defense and ran the offensive sets and started sharing the basketball. The mission of the fourth quarter was to maintain the lead and execute.”
The Townies led 37-27 at the half, with the final five points coming from sophomore guard Omar Orriols, who he came off the bench and grabbed four of his nine rebounds in the second quarter before making a shot.
“The last couple of games, I haven’t been so productive on the offensive end, so I just wanted to something instead of scoring, which was rebounding.”
Orriols eventually scored to double his team’s lead just before halftime, and hit another three in the third quarter, but he needed the support of an elder guard to get into his scoring groove.
“Akosa [Maduegbunam] came up to me during the game and said, ‘Omar, play with confidence. Shoot the ball with confidence’," Orriols said. "[His words] helped me boost my game.”
Cardoso added that Orriols is a bellwether instrument for how his team is faring.
“Omar is our x-factor. When Omar plays well offensively and defensively, we win a lot of games.”
Sophomore guard Tyrese Hoxter came up big for the Townies as well, scoring thirteen points, by shooting from the perimeter and driving to the basket, stealing the ball three times and assisting on seven shots. Even though he didn’t score in the fourth, he felt his teammates had the game under control.
“I know my teammates can score just as well as I can,” said Hoxter. “So when they collapsed on me, I just kicked it out to them.”
“I don’t want all the awards,” Charlestown junior Rony Fernandes said. He scored eleven points, had six assists, five rebounds, two steals and a block, he was not looking to score more as he can, he played an unselfish game for a worthy cause. “I just wanted the ‘W’."
In the fourth quarter, junior center Tyrik Jackson (six points, seven rebounds) blocked an East Boston attempted shot out of bounds, drawing ‘ooohs’ and ‘aaaahs’ from the packed crowd. The Eastie player pushed his palm into Jackson’s face, but while some of the Charlestown players came to his defense, Jackson walked away and avoided the fracas.
“We’ve been talking about mental toughness all year,” said Cardoso. “He could have went and smushed the kid back, but he kept his poise, thought about the big picture in winning the game, and stayed steady.”