Cory McCarthy said at the start of the season that if his team didn’t win the state tournament, he would resign as the head coach for New Mission. After a 69-65 loss on the road to Melrose in the Division 2 North quarterfinals, the coach will finally have to face that decision.
“That’s something I have to think about because I was assuming we’d have all of our guys,” McCarthy said referring to injured players Isshiah Coleman, Fred Rivers and Chima Ebele. “That’s something I have to consider because it’s in New Mission, it’s not like any other city school. My opinion is just you got to win every year. That’s just it.”
This will not be one of those years. Melrose ended the hopes of a potential rematch between New Mission and Brighton behind a huge game from senior forward Samual Jean-Gilles.
After leaving the game early in the first quarter with a wrist injury, Jean-Gilles hit back-to-back baskets upon returning later in the period to spark what would be a 26-0 run for Melrose. New Mission ended the run with 1:53 left in the second quarter on a basket by senior center Sam Freeman.
“We couldn’t hit a damn thing and we didn’t take bad shots; we missed lay-ups, we missed free throws, we were 0-14 in that stretch,” McCarthy said.
Despite the taped wrist, Jean-Gilles propelled his team to a 30-13 lead at the half. The senior ended the game with a team-high 21 points.
“Because of the foul trouble in [Jean-Gilles'] last game, I didn’t think he was that good,” McCarthy said. “He’s actually a pretty good player. I’d never seen him shoot the ball in all the games I seen but he shot the ball well.”
However, McCarthy’s resilient Titans would not go away that easily. With the adjustments of inserting sophomore guard Juwan Gooding and senior guard Brian Jones into the starting line up, New Mission was able to rally in the third period.
The Titans went on a 12-2 run in the opening minutes of the quarter – all of New Mission’s points scored by Gooding and Jones.
“Stop giving [Gooding] easy looks,” Melrose coach Mike Kasprzak said to his team during a timeout after the run. “That’s his shot from the top of the key.”
Melrose wouldn’t have to worry about the sophomore guard after he fouled out with 5:46 left in the fourth, just as New Mission cut the lead to single digits again, 52-43.
“That team has so much character,” Kasprzak said. “They have so much heart.”
McCarthy focused on that heart and character when reflecting on his graduating seniors.
“I’m happy with those guys, they’re all going to college,” McCarthy said naming the seven seniors in Coleman, Ebele, Jones, Nathaniel Anderson, Zachary Badohu, Tayon Watson, and Percio Gomez. “I’d take a career choice over winning a basketball game any day. I’m more disappointed then I am hurt.”
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