Monday, January 16, 2017

No. 5 Everett comes back late to down No. 3 New Mission at The BABC Holiday Tournament

Ghared Boyce knocking down a huge three-pointer in the final minute of Everett's win over New Mission

By Nate Weitzer (@Nweitzer7)

BOSTON — With less than four minutes to play, Everett trailed an undersized and undermanned New Missions squad 63-55. 

The defending Division 2 state champion Titans had frustrated and burned the Crimson Tide for every mistake or episode of hesitation all morning at the second installment of the BABC Holiday Tournament at Cathedral High, but head coach John DiBiaso’s players woke up down the stretch and finished the game on a 12-3 run to pull out a 67-66 victory in the end.

“We moved the ball,” DiBiaso said about Everett’s comeback effort. “We kept our heads up and moved it and that led to easy baskets. [New Mission] plays that trapping style and when you trap, someone’s open.”

Everett (8-0) trailed New Mission (5-4) 59-53 after three quarters, as the Titans twin stars Charles Mitchell (24 points) and Charlie Mitchell (15 points) were creating turnovers as per usual. 

That relentless ball pressure made it difficult for Everett to feed their dangerous low-post tandem of Jordan McAfee (14 points, 15 rebounds) and Theo Zidor (11 points, 5 rebounds), but the Tide capitalized on their size advantage in a different way.

With one or two of their bigs controlling the defensive glass, McAfee would leak out on New Mission’s shot attempts late in the fourth quarter, and he scored on such a play to make it 63-62 Titans with 1:37 remaining in regulation.

New Mission countered when Charles Mitchell nailed his sixth three-pointer of the game to make it 66-62, but the Tide’s best shooter in Ghared Boyce (16 points) would respond in kind with a triple to make it 66-65 with 40 seconds left to play.

With a 10-second difference between the shot clock and game clock, Everett elected to play straight-up defense, and Zidor came up with a huge rejection. Everett junior Isaiah Likely (15 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists) secured the loose ball and immediately threw a one-handed pass the length of the court to a wide-open McAfee for a lay-up that proved to be the game-winner. 

“We knew we could come back,” said Everett senior forward Jordan McAfee, who scored the go-ahead basket with four seconds remaining. “[New Mission] is a good team but we knew that we’re bigger and stronger than [The Titans] so it was great to capitalize on that down the stretch. This was a big win for us and hopefully we can keep this momentum going”

For New Mission head coach Cory McCarthy, several defensive breakdowns down the stretch led to some frustration. 

“Not having our usual guys out there led to some breakdowns in communication,” McCarthy said. “We have to build trust in the guys that don’t really play a lot, or that’s what happens.”

The coach was referring to an ankle injury that is keeping New Mission starter Kevin Nunez out for several weeks, as well as a wrist injury that’s restricting senior Shaq Murray and the fact that Charlie Mitchell sat during the final minute of this contest with an apparent ankle injury.

With those players off the floor, the Titans played somewhat passively on offensive over the final three minutes and allowed the Tide to leak out towards the end of the shot clock on multiple possessions. 

“We couldn’t put enough talent on the floor and you’re going to need talent when you’re that small, playing a team that is that big,” McCarthy added Talent is a mental thing more than a physical thing for us and I thought we were the better team throughout most of  the day, but [Everett] used their size to their advantage and made plays when we couldn’t.”

Everett came back late to defeat Somerville last Friday in similar fashion, so DiBiaso is willing to thank his lucky stars while hoping for more consistent performances from his players going forward. 

“We’ve been a little fortunate to get these wins and we’re going to build on it going forward,” DiBiaso said. “Today, the players were very unselfish and very tough down the wire and they made their shots at the end.”

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