|Brighton defeated O'Bryant and Tech Boston to take home the 2017 Boston City League championship|
By Nate Weitzer (@Nweitzer7)
BOSTON - Talent has never been an issue for the Brighton Bengals over the past few seasons, but they’ve fallen just short of city glory with losses in the Boston City League tournament each of the last two years.
Yet with old rival New Mission dispatched by upstart Tech Boston in the semifinals, the path was clear for Brighton (17-5) to finally return to the top of their conference, and the Bengals did not miss their opportunity, as they blew past the Bears for a 76-64 victory on Thursday evening at Madison Park High.
“It feels great,” Brighton head coach Hugh Coleman said about the win. “We have a ton of juniors and seniors and this group has basically been together for three years. Last year we came up short, but this year, they’ve shown how much they’ve improved. It felt good or our seniors to go out this way because I’ve felt it was a few years in the making.”
While they started slowly, the Bengals came alive during the second quarter, outscoring the Bears 22-6 in the frame to open up a 35-22 lead by halftime.
The frenetic pace of the game made it difficult for any one player to dominate the action, but 6-foot-5 forward Jerrod Clark proved too much for the undersized Bears down low, as he piled up a game-high 22 points to go along with 8 rebounds on the night.
“It’s a big accomplishment,” Clark said about winning a BCL title. “Especially after we had to watch the finals last season. We made too many mistakes that cost us a shot at the championship and it wasn’t going to happen again.”
Brighton point guard Jordan Galloway (6 points, 7 assists) was able to find teammates such as Tyrone Perry (12 points, 9 rebounds) and Clark in the open court to set up easy looks and expand the Bengals lead to 20 at 49-29 early in the third quarter.
However, Tech Boston (15-5) stuck with its relentless trapping press and managed to claw back into the game.
A 9-0 Bears run made it 48-39 midway through the third quarter and the underdogs finished the frame with an alley-oop from Bowder to Walter Dew-Hollins (17 points, 5 rebounds, 5 steals) to keep the deficit at 11 points heading into the fourth.
Yet in the final frame, Clark and company put the hammer down in a rather literal sense.
The big man swatted a shot attempt into the front row to electrify the crowd and a few plays later, tournament MVP Mykel Derring (15 points, 8 rebounds, 2 steals) threw down a contested dunk to put the exclamation mark on the Bengals’ victory.
“We’ve made a lot of progress and hopefully we can continue this ride into the state [tournament],” Derring said.
After playing D1 power BC High tough in the finals of the Comcast/Board 27 Classic on Monday and defeating a talented O’Bryant team in the BCL semifinals, Brighton appears poised for another deep run in the state tournament.
“That adversity will help us so much in the [state] tournament,” Coleman confirmed. “If you want to win in the [state] tournament, you’re going to need contributions from everybody and that’s why we should be a really tough team to beat because of our depth. The only way we can lose a lot of times is if we beat ourselves. It’s going to be an uphill battle, but we look forward to it.”