After becoming the first Boston public schools basketball team to win both the city and state championship in the same season since Charlestown in 2003, Brighton boys’ basketball coach Hugh Coleman dedicated Saturday afternoon’s victory against South Hadley to his former coach at Charlestown, Jack O’Brien.
“I feel honored that the last time it was done was with Jack O’Brien and Charlestown and I was a part of their coaching staff [that year] and my brother was on their team, so it is a special thing and I definitely want to dedicate this to Jack O’Brien,” the fourth-year Brighton coach said after the 59-41 victory at the DCU Center in Worcester.
Coleman played on O’Brien’s first Charlestown team in 1993 and helped the Townies make it to the state quarterfinals in 1996 and 1997. Coleman was an assistant under O'Brien at Charlestown from 2002 to 2008.
“We spoke afterwards, obviously I didn’t know he said anything like that of course,” O’Brien said when reached Saturday night. “It’s always an honor coming from him. I just think he has such deep feelings and deep roots for the program he was in and has done the same thing for the program in Brighton.”
O’Brien won a total of six state championships, including four straight at Charlestown from 1999 to 2003 and a fifth in 2005 before resigning from the Lynn English job in 2006. He hasn’t returned to the sideline since.
“He should be coaching and I have no idea why he’s not coaching in the state of Massachusetts,” Coleman said. “In my opinion he is the best coach in the state of Massachusetts. He is. Not just because he won games. He changed the lives of so many of us young men at Charlestown during that period. We went on to go to college, we went on to be great men, fathers, husbands, and you know what, it’s because of what he helped us do from the inside out.
“I’ll be honest with you, I coach, and I took the coaching job because he’s not coaching … and when they said he couldn’t coach, or they wouldn’t allow him to coach for whatever reason I said ‘I gotta keep the legacy going.’ He’s healthy. He’s a 10 times better man, he learned whatever lesson I guess he was supposed to learn and it’s an absolute shame that the man is not coaching because he is all that and then some. He is a great person so I just really want to dedicate this state championship to him and all of my CTB brothers because I remember the days of us putting in a lot of work before they started winning a lot of state championships and we never got one.”
O’Brien’s name has been mentioned for several jobs over the years but he said he's waiting for the right circumstances.
“We’ll see what opens up,” he said. “I’m just going to see what opens up. Obviously in the right position and the right situation I definitely want to get back.”
O’Brien said he was glad to see Coleman and Lavelle Larkins, who played with Coleman at Charlestown and is his assistant at Brighton, finally get a state championship.
“It’s funny, we talk about that quite a bit,” O’Brien said. “When he first came to high school that was my first year coaching. They kind of laid the foundation with all their hard work and dedication.”
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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 email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJustinRice or @BPSspts.
- Zolan Kanno-Youngs -- A former captain of the Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School football team and a current second-year Ujima Scholar at Northeastern University, Kanno-Youngs is the color commentator of the mens basketball team and a writer for Northeastern's campus newspaper, the Huntington News. He joins Boston.com as a correspondent for the site's BPS coverage. Have a story idea? Contact him at KannoYoungs.Globe@gmail.com. Follow him on his Twitter @KannoYoungs.