The gym at the former Hyde Park Education complex was formally handed off to the New Mission boys’ basketball team Wednesday night.
Just before beating Burke, 84-30, in their first-ever home game since moving from Mission Hill to Hyde Park this fall, New Mission honored former Hyde Park High legend Al McClain, who played for Hyde Park in the late 1970s before becoming the University of New Hampshire’s all-time leading scorer and getting drafted by the Houston Rockets in 1984.
“First of all, I want to say good evening to this New Mission team, this is your gym right now,” McClain told the near capacity crowd before the game. “I came here in the 70s, that’s when there was busing … Being in this gym brings back some heartbreaking memories. This was probably one of the smallest gyms in the city.
“Right now my goal is to make sure some of these young guys have the same opportunities. That’s why I dedicate my time and effort to make sure you guys do the right thing. I want to thank Coach Cory [McCarthy] for giving me this award. I’m hoping some of you New Mission guys become great basketball players and have a sense of pride and become great men.”
New Mission’s players got off to a good start in their new gym, jumping out to an 18-2 lead before going into halftime with a 48-13 edge.
The crowd was into the game from the tip as the Titans (2-0) played under their state championship banners and on top of their logo painted at center court.
“The atmosphere was great, I’m excited we have a new year, starting off 2-0, it was exciting,” junior guard Shaquan Murray said. “I’m glad the fans were there and I’m glad we got the W.
“[The crowd] was definitely a big advantage because they are part of us. They are in our school and they can definitely help us to cheer us on and win games.”
McCarthy said the crowd provided the sixth man he’s been craving at New Mission home games since he started the program about a decade ago.
“It’s the atmosphere man, the atmosphere,” he said. “It’s good to have a sixth man. It’s not a neighborhood it’s our kids, it’s our kids."
Burke (0-1) did a good job of getting to the foul line in the early going but they couldn’t knock any shots down. The Bulldogs went 3 for 15 from the foul line in the first half.
“We had one scrimmage earlier but that was a tough one to open up against New Mission like that,” Burke coach Sam Jordan said. “We did it last year, too, so we got used to it. We just have to get stronger. We have a young team. You realize when you play a good team like this that you have to challenge every ball and possession. We’re not rebounding well and we’re not blocking out well but we’re working on it.”
“We’re working on it we got a lot of practice to do.”
Jordan said the pregame ceremony to honor McClain was also emotional for him.
“Tonight it was a special night because they honored a special guy so it was kind of tough and I know the guy so it was heartfelt,” he said. “But it was a good one.”
Burke was led by senior guard Jason Martinez, who had 9 points.
Senior guard/forward Zachary Badohu had a game-high 15 points for New Mission while junior forward Fred Rivers chipped in 13.
Sophomore guard Juwan Gooding, who transferred to New Mission from Milton High this year, scored 10 points in his first game in a Titans’ uniform, all of which came in the first half.
“The crowd was into it, it was an exciting game,” Gooding said. “I’m looking forward to Friday too against Charlestown.”
New Mission will play the Townies on the road at 7 p.m. on Friday.
Justin A. Rice covers Boston Public school athletics. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJustinRice or @BPSspts.
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