All season long the O’Bryant girls’ basketball team foamed at the mouth to get another crack at Fenway High in the city tournament.
Last season, the Tigers lost to the Panthers in the title game of the Boston City League girls’ basketball championships before Fenway went on to win the Division 4 state title.
Two years ago, O’Bryant beat Fenway in the city championships final match.
This year, the cross-division rivals who didn’t meet in the regular season, won’t get a shot at a rubber match when the city championships start on Tuesday.
Fenway failed to qualify for the city tournament after school officials determined that they had to forfeit at least three games for breaking an MIAA rule that prohibits plays from participating in more than four quarters per day, not including overtime. Officials said Fenway played JV players for too long during the varsity games in question.
After the dust settled, South Boston was bumped to the No. 1-seed in the North division while Latin Academy moved up to second place in the North. The top two teams from each division qualify for cities.
O’Bryant plays South Boston in the first semifinal at 4 p.m. on Tuesday at Madison Park while New Mission and Latin Academy meet in the second semifinal at 5:30 p.m.
“They are in first place so they must be good,” O’Bryant coach Gertrude Fisher said of South Boston.”I look at it this way, 'However you got there, you got there.' It’s unfortunate because I know my kids were looking forward to competing against Fenway so I hope that they can rebound from being disappointed at not having them there. But I’m sure I’ll be able to get them up for the game.
“That kind of busted the bubble. I don’t know what the circumstances were but I know my kids we’ll be ready. We’ll rebound, we’re still in the cities, that was one of our goals. Now I guess our goal has to be win it.”
While Fisher said she doesn’t know anything about South Boston because they didn’t play them this year either, South Boston coach Andrea Higgins had a chance to scout O’Bryant’s victory against New Mission on Friday night.
“Trudy Fisher is a really good coach and they were really well prepared as I expected them to be,” Higgins said. “Their team is always ready and they certainly were. They came out aggressive and worked hard the whole game to win.
“I think we just need to play our game. I know O’Bryant’s been there before. This is the first time any of these girls have been there [for my team]. They just need to understand it’s another game we’re playing, just in another atmosphere. They have to be ready to play their game and not let anything outside affect it.”
Trying to drown out the noise about the Fenway flap could be difficult however. Fisher said whoever wins will have to deal with naysayers saying they don’t deserve the title because Fenway wasn’t in the field.
“I’m sure that’s going to be exactly what’s said regardless who wins,” Fisher said “They will say, ‘Well you won it because Fenway is out of it.’ All the girls in the city recognize Fenway as far as being the best team. I’m sure they are the best team in city. It’s unfortunate they are not in it.”
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- Justin A. Rice -- A metro Detroit native, Rice is a Michigan State University (Go Spartans!) and Northeastern University graduate. Rice lives in the South End with his dog and wife, who unfortunately attended the University of Michigan ... his wife, that is. He curates the BPS Sports Blog and is always looking to write about city athletes with great stories. Have an idea? He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJustinRice or @BPSspts.
- Ryan Butler -- A Rhode Island native and avid Boston sports fan, Butler played basketball, baseball and football throughout his time in Barrington Public Schools. Now currently in his middler year at Northeastern University, he joins Boston.com as a correspondent for the site's BPS coverage. Have a story idea? Contact him at email@example.com. Follow him on his Twitter @butler_globe.