Coach Johnny Williams and his boys’ basketball team are ready for a new era of Dorchester basketball. With the city tournament this week, there could be no better time.
“It’s three years of believing,” Williams said. “First year starting out 2-18, following year missing the states by one game and this year these kids really just bought in to what we’re trying to do.”
After coming in fourth place in last years’ south division, the Bears have won the newly created central division with a 9-3 record. While Williams is happy that the realignment of the city league gives various teams a chance to compete in cities, the competitive spirit of the Dorchester coach still shines bright.
“I’m a competitor so I’d want to be in the [North] division,” Williams said. “In a couple of years they’ll go back to the table and they may make some more adjustments.”
Williams will get the challenge they want in the first round of cities when they go up against New Mission. The Titans big frontcourt has been too much for opposing defenses with coach Cory McCarthy’s team leading the North in scoring. However, Williams has been preaching a physical style of play all season.
“In practice, I don’t call fouls. I like kids coming out with their teeth cracked [and] bloody noses. We just play ball. Roll the ball out and let’s go,” Williams said.
The tough mentality doesn’t just resonate in the coach though. Even junior Khail Newson knew that unless his team kept up with the rebounding of New Mission, winning would be nearly impossible.
“Key in, defense, box out first and then rebound. Run our plays, don’t get rattled and just do what we do,” said Newson who had 22-points in Dorchester’s win over Brighton Friday night.
Newson, as well as seniors Ceejae Agnewcarter and Jeduan Langston make up the three man starting backcourt for Dorchester. Senior guard Dean Lee also has made major contributions off of the bench with his 3-point shooting.
According to Williams, that depth in the backcourt is one of Dorchester’s biggest advantages as they go further in to the season.
“We’re in New England, we’re in the East Coast. It’s guard orientated. Personally, I think I’ve got the best backcourt in the state. I’ll put them up against anyone,” Williams said.
The coach added that specifically Jeduan Langston has led the charge for the Bears. Williams highlighted that the senior hasn’t just improved on his mid range game but also simply has gotten more mature over time.
“He led the team, he listened, he was a heard-headed at one point but he understands now,” Williams said.
While some starting guards can be quick to talk about their accomplishments, Langston simply said what has been key in winning games.
“We run our plays consistently and we just take our time and make the extra passes to the 3-point shooters on our team,” Langston said. “We dish the ball down low to our big men so they can touch the ball so there’s no complaining and that’s about it.”
There are schools within the state that children grow up wanting to go to because of their rich history of basketball. Williams made it clear that this was not the case for Dorchester.
“We haven’t been respected. I coach what’s in the building. I don’t get the luxury of kids wanting to come to Dorchester. They don’t want to come to Dorchester,” Williams said.
However, this just makes the coach appreciate the players that have dedicated themselves to the program.
“It’s great that these were kids that were in the building; the kids that no one wanted. Like they said, another man’s garbage is another man’s gold and these kids are my gold. They’re platinum to me,” Williams said.
Dorchester will tip off against New Mission on Wednesday Feb. 20.
Zolan Kanno-Youngs covers Boston Public school athletics. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @KannoYoungs.
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