Tuesday, December 20, 2016

No. 9 Brighton outlasts No. 25 O'Bryant in a 98-95 thriller

From Left: Jordan Galloway (19 points), Mykel Derring (15 points) and Tyrone Perry (24 points) led the Bengals to a signature early-season win at O'Bryant on Tuesday, Dec. 20.
By Nate Weitzer (@nweitzer7)

BOSTON, Mass. – There are no easy games in the Boston City League, but some wins require an incredible amount of effort on both ends of the floor.

Brighton (2-0) got out to an early lead at conference rival O’Bryant (2-1) and looked to be in control throughout the first half. Yet the Tigers gave the Bengals everything they could handle in a thrilling back-and-forth affair, before Brighton actually came back late to pull out a 98-95 victory on the road.

“Naturally, when a team gets up and you don’t have that killer instinct, the other team is going to play with more urgency and they can come back,” reflected Brighton head coach Hugh Coleman. “[The Tigers] made some tough plays and built confidence while we lost confidence and it’s a see-saw in that sense. Basketball is a game of runs, but thankfully we were able to make our run after that.”

The Tigers wrapped a a 24-7 run around halftime to take their first lead at 55-54 early in the third quarter, and actually controlled the action to the point that they held an 87-81 advantage midway through the fourth. 

Junior guard Laqu Howard (17 points) brought the Bengals back from the brink of defeat with four straight points before seniors Jordan Galloway (19 points, 5 assists, 7 steals) and Tyrone Perry (24 points, 8 rebounds) closed it out.

Galloway finished a couple of tough lay-ups and came with a key steal late in the fourth, but it was Perry’s and-1 finish that put Brighton up 90-89 and turned the crowd into a frenzy. 

The two teams went back and forth, with Howard hitting another clutch three and Tigers senior Romario Ebanks (26 points) nailing his fifth triple of the night to make it 95-93 Brighton.

Senior power forward Kobe Smith (20 points) scored to draw the Tigers even, but Jordan Diaz (11 points, 7 rebounds) hit a free throw to put Brighton up 96-95. 

Then the Bengals rallied for a stop, and Perry came up with huge rebounds on the defensive and offensive ends of the floor, knocked down two free throws, and led his team to a benchmark early-season win. 

“It’s really important to get these young guys to understand how to win big games and how to win at the next level,” said Coleman. “It’s not all about scoring. It’s the little things that matter. We need our players to stay focused on us, not the crowd, and do those little things, which is how we won tonight.”

While several players emerged as heroes for the Bengals, O’Bryant head coach Drew Brock felt as though his senior-laden could have hung on for a comeback by focusing on some of the same little things that Coleman praised his team for executing.

“I give all due respect to Brighton, but I feel like in the fourth quarter we handed them the game on a silver platter,” Brock lamented. “Brighton does such a great job pushing the ball and that’s how they got six straight points after we were up 87-81. We didn’t take great shots and we didn’t get back on defense and that cost us.”

Brock’s team also ran into some tough foul trouble and they’re best player wound up fouling out in the fourth quarter. 

Sophomore stud prospect Rivaldo Soares struggled to body up Perry down the stretch and yielded two “and-1s” to the Bengals tough-minded center.

“I’ve been working hard in the offseason,” said Perry, who also led the Bengals with 32 points in their opener last Friday. “It’s my last year, so I either have to go hard or go home. “I’m always in attack mode. I’m a strong player and I made myself stronger by working hard all summer…now it’s paying off.”

This win might feel a bit sweeter for Perry and the other Bengals who were bounced by O’Bryant in the semifinals of the Boston City League Tournament last season. And even though their defeat might taste bitter, the O’Bryant Tigers should be very proud of their effort against a bigger program with as much tradition as Brighton.

“It’s a great rivalry happening between our teams,” confirmed Coleman. “My hat is off to coach Drew [Brock] because he’s built this program at an exam school and turned them into a great competitor and I know we’ll see them again down the road.”

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