For the first time in four years, New Mission is back in a Boston City League championship thanks to a strong effort attacking the paint Friday night.
The Titans came out strong after a tough first quarter and ended up with a 69-59 victory over TechBoston at home in the Boston City League semifinals. New Mission will play Saturday at 4 p.m. against host Latin Academy.
“That’s big,” said Titans coach Malcolm Smith about making it to the finals. “At the end of the day, these kids deserve that. I’ve been awfully hard on them and I feel bad sometimes. It’s all worth it even more than basketball. For them to make it to the (city championship), that means a lot.”
Trailing 15-11 after one, New Mission (7-2) closed out the half on a 9-1 run for a 30-26 lead. They closed out the third quarter on a 14-4 run to build a 46-36 advantage.
“If you followed us, that’s been one of my weaknesses as a coach — closing out some games — to be honest with you,” said Smith. “We’ve spent so much energy and we go so hard, that (the players) get spent. … But it was good leadership today and I don’t throw that around lightly.”
New Mission scored all but three points in the paint and from the free-throw line thanks in big part to sophomore Hassan Jenkins, who finished with 24 points and nine boards.
“This is the first time I’ve really seen (Jenkins) work inside that interior today,” Smith said. “I think some of his early shots opened it up and everything. We just kept going with that.”
Jenkins scored 16 of those in the second half and was ecstatic about defeating TechBoston (8-3), which had won the past three BCL titles.
“It’s great,” Jenkins said about the victory. “We haven’t beaten them in four years. So, to get that win over them today is amazing.”
Juan Salas added 13 points and 10 rebounds for the Titans. For the Bears, senior Dkhari Brown netted 18 points.