X's and O's: Newton-Brockton observations

February is that time of the season when you find out what teams are truly made out of. In Sunday’s matchup between Brockton and Newton North, both teams showed why they could each be dangerous teams when March comes around.

Brockton won the contest, 71-65, in overtime. After digesting the game, here are some observations about both of these teams, who will both likely enter the Division 1 South Sectional as favorites.

Brockton’s Defense

Defense is arguably Brockton’s best asset. Jahleel Moise’s jumping ability and Sayvonn Houston’s size make it nearly impossible for players to drive in the lane. This was especially true at the start of their game against Newton North. Brockton’s defense forced Newton North to be a jump shooting team and since the Tigers’ shots were not falling, they took an early lead.

Defense pushes teams far in the playoffs. However, basketball is played on two ends of the floor. While Brockton’s defense is superb, there offense leaves a lot to be desired.

Brockton’s Offense

After watching this clip, one would think there is nothing wrong with Brockton’s offense. It is not so much that they are a bad team offensively. Obviously, they were good offensively in this game because they won. It is more about how they are scoring.

They do a wonderful job of scoring in the paint, getting put backs, and burning defenders off of isolation plays. The only issue: that is the only way they score. There are never any plays run for a basket or jump shots made for that matter.

Newton North is not a big team or an athletic team, so Brockton can get away with this type of scoring. When they play a more athletic or bigger team, this type of offense simply will not work in March.

X-Factor: Jaylen Blakely

In March, it is critical to have players who can create off of the dribble. Jaylen Blakely is that type of player.

Blakely does a great job of getting looks for his big man and making big shots. That being said, Blakely’s biggest weakness is his decision making.

Blakely turns the ball over at a high rate and takes bad shots often. If he can focus on playing under control, he has the capability of pushing Brockton far in the playoffs.

Newton North Offense

Newton North always has talented go-to options, which is why they are always a dangerous team in March. They might not have the Anthony Gurley or Greg Kelley on their roster this year, but the duo of Mike Thorpe and Luke Westman are not too shabby. They are two players who compliment each other well and play smart all of the time.

The Tigers rely on those two to do most of their scoring along with many of their sweet shooting role players. When their shots were not falling, Newton North struggled. The key for them will be for role players to knock down open shots when they get them.

X-Factor: Tommy Mobley

In the third quarter, one role player did exactly what Newton North needs in order for their offense to be effective. Freshman Tommy Mobley knocked down three outside shots. This was the point in the game where Newton North came back and made it a close game.

Mobley has an unusual yet highly effective shot. He might only be a freshman, but he does a good job of moving without the ball and knocking down tough shots. This type of role player is key, especially when fighting while down.

The only issue is that he is a freshman and makes the mistakes that all freshmen make. To rely on a young player is always a risky proposition for teams looking to make a deep run in March.


Brockton and Newton North are dangerous teams for very different reasons. The Boxers do a great job of beating teams with their size and athleticism. They are great on defense and make teams have to play their tough brand of basketball. The key for them will to force teams to turnover the ball and score in transition.

As for Newton North, they don’t have the size or talent of past years but they have a team of players that play well together. In this game, they finally showed their main flaw: defense. They are not a bad defensive team, but when they play bigger or more athletic teams, they run into serious problems.

Neither team is perfect, but both have assets that can push them far in March.