New Mission wins the city championship and wants more

ROXBURY, Mass. – From an early point in the season, it was clear that New Mission was the class of the Boston City League. They asserted themselves early on, then kept it up. That was also what they did to East Boston on Thursday night in their 73-54 win over the Jets that wasn’t quite that close.

Thursday night wasn’t exactly a mismatch, but it was one of the clear team to beat in the Titans going up against the underdog that never stops fighting in the Jets. East Boston overcame its share of adversity and got to this game with a hard-fought overtime win a day earlier. On Thursday night, they met their match. They stayed within striking distance for much of the night, but couldn’t rally once more as soon as the Titans scored the first six points of the fourth quarter to break the game open.

New Mission has lots of talent up and down the roster, but the Titans were unquestionably carried by their senior stars in this one much like all year. First, it was MVP Asante Sandiford (6’4″ Sr. SF), who was bigger than anyone Eastie could throw at him and more athletic. He was scoring inside with good moves, then he was rebounding and blocking shots at the other end. He finished with a game-high 21 points, later getting a spin move and layup and then a steal and layup. His action on the pick-and-roll a few times was nice as well.

asante_sandiford

Asante Sandiford was the MVP of the city championship as New Mission won for the first time (Phil Kasiecki photo)

“He came to play,” said head coach Cory McCarthy of the Franklin Pierce-bound forward. “His hand is a little banged up, he got his butt kicked yesterday. But he’s developed into a utility ball player that any college can use.”

Before long, Shaquan Murray (6’1″ Sr. PG-SG) got into the act. He showed his vast array of scoring tools, finding several ways to do it en route to 19 points, and perhaps most impressive was how he finished with his left (off) hand.

Through it all, Frederick Rivers (6’4″ Sr. PF) was a factor, and while it wasn’t his biggest game, he made his share of plays as well.

In all, the Titans did a great job of slowing down East Boston star shooting guard Dion Knight. The junior had 18 points, but he wasn’t as aggressive save for a couple of times when he tried to force plays that weren’t there. It was a little different than his 35-point effort against Dorchester in the semifinals, and that’s what the Titans wanted to do.

“Dion Knight is a stud,” said McCarthy. “We had to really focus on him.”

McCarthy said this team has bought into what he and the staff have been teaching all along. They have good talent, but they wouldn’t be where they are on that alone. Knowing what he had, McCarthy has been riding them endlessly, but they keep competing.

“These kids have big ears and seriously thick skin,” said McCarthy. “They bought into what we wanted to do one hundred percent. They believe in what we want to do. I wouldn’t ask them to run through a wall for me, but I think they would do that.”

The Titans captured their first city title, but what they want to do now is win a state title. This team is well-tested, with their only losses coming to a strong Putnam team and powerhouse St. Joseph’s from New Jersey. This team has grown as the season has gone along. They have asserted themselves to win games, and they have both blown teams out and pulled out close games.

In all, there’s a lot of reason to believe this team can be the last one standing in March. It starts with their talent, continues with their track record, and ends with their focus. They are happy to have the city title, but they want more than that. Every last player on this team is happy, but not satisfied.

Notes

  • Rivers told City Hoops Recruiting he’s unsure of what he will do next year at the moment, and will figure it out after the state tournament. The options are there, as he can do a prep year or go straight to college since he has a 3.2 GPA and is fully qualified. The smart money is on him being on a college campus in the fall since he’s ready from every standpoint.
  • Murray topped 1,000 career points during the game, and right after it McCarthy called a timeout so they could celebrate it. East Boston coach Shawn Brown appeared to take issue with it, but since New Mission called a timeout there was none so long as they stayed within the time limit of it.
  • Fans got a glimpse of the future in the final minute-plus. McCarthy emptied the bench with a comfortable lead, and among those who got in the game were talented twins Charles and Charlie Mitchell, the latter of whom was recently elevated to the varsity team. You will hear more about them over the next few years, and they are as hungry as anyone for a state title now that they won the city.
  • In addition to Sandiford winning MVP honors, Murray and Rivers made the All-Tournament team along with Knight, Dorchester senior guard Khalil Newson and Snowden junior forward Javaughn Kittrell.

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