LAWRENCE, Mass. -- Describe Brighton’s win in one word?
Speedy. No, aggressive. Rebounding, maybe?
One word: complete.
The eighth-seeded Bengals took control from the opening tip, churning out an 18-3 run in the first six minutes against a Burlington squad still trying to establish tempo.
After 32 minutes of play, what appeared inevitable after one quarter became reality, as Brighton took down the No. 12 seed Red Devils, 68-46, with scoring from 10 different players, and double-digit contributions from four.
All told, the one statistic that encapsulates this Division 2 North semifinal was the rebounding margin. Brighton (14-5) surpassed Burlington, 58-18, in seizing missed shots.
Leading the way on the glass were senior forwards Bernadin St. Vil (11 points) and Mike Arnead, who hoarded ten rebounds (five offensive) and eight, respectively. In addition, senior forward Edward Toney (nine points, three blocks) amassed seven boards, while senior shooting guard Ronald Mack (10 points) grabbed five.
“It dictated everything,” Brighton head coach High Coleman said. “Defensive rebounding allowed for us to fast-break. We had a lot more fast-break points in this game than I think we had most of the season. Offensively, it allowed us to get second chances and it took a lot of the pressure off of us.”
The Bengals brought down 17 offensive rebounds to just five from the Red Devils (14-9). Subsequently, Brighton awarded itself more shot attempts, totaling 25-for-61 (Five three-pointers) from the field, compared to Burlington, who went 17-for-58 (One three-pointer).
By and large, senior point guard Kevon Young played frontrunner for the victors, tallying a game-high 15 points -- 13 in the first half -- to accompany his ten rebounds and four assists. Young’s vision and ball handling were instrumental to Brighton’s up-tempo style.
“Our coach told us, ‘rebound and box out,’” Young said. “That’s a big part of the game. And we pushed the fast break. When we got the rebound, we’d go.”
For a Burlington squad faithful to its 2-3 zone, installing full-court pressure and a man-to-man defense in the second half -- an effort to disrupt Brighton’s offense and force turnovers -- was a decision Burlington head coach Tom Lyons said he was reluctant to make.
“[Zone defense] has worked all year,” he said. “That’s what these kids know. For us to play man-to-man, it’s difficult.”
Nonetheless, the Red Devils did force 22 turnovers on the contest.
And that turnover statistic is an issue, albeit one of minimal importance in regards to this particular contest, Coleman said.
“I’m almost like a perfectionist,” he said. “I’m a point guard at heart, naturally, so I want us to take care of the ball. But I thought that today, the turnovers were overshadowed by the fact that we were rebounding and we got more points. So I really didn’t notice the amount of turnovers.
“It bothers me to an extent, especially in a tight game, obviously, and even in a game like this, so that we don’t get complacent. So when we get into a tight game, we stress taking care of the ball.”
For the Red Devils, offensive production came predominantly from the dribble penetration of senior guard and tri-captain Ryan Putney. The soon-to-be two-time Middlesex League All-Star also posted a game-high 15 points while pulling down five rebounds.
“[Putney] is one of the hardest working players I’ve ever come across,” said Lyons. “He’s one of these kids that I constantly yell at, but I know he can take it. He was a league all-star last year. He should be again this year. He’s had a great career at Burlington.”
Alongside Putney, Burlington welcomed eight points from junior guard and tri-captain Connor Gallivan and seven from seven from freshman substitute Shane Farley.
Moving forward, Brighton’s Coleman wants his squad to maintain it’s simple, yet oh-so-vital modus operandi when it faces New Mission -- who took the two regular season contests with Brighton -- in the sectional finals: box out and gain control of errant shots.
“I’m very happy that we rebounded well tonight,” the former Charlestown guard said. “One of the reasons I wanted to emphasize rebounding is because of New Mission. They are big and they pound the boards. So we have to box out and rebound."
And limiting New Mission’s production in the paint?
“Can you eliminate that in some way?” Coleman joked. “Good luck...we’ll just try and do what we’ve been doing all year. Try to have a mix of inside-outside and see what happens. I think it’ll be a really good game.”