Yesterday's semifinals in the Boston City boys' basketball championships featured big runs at the start.
But while the first game's opening salvo effectively ended the contest before it got started, the second game's did not.
Charlestown's 13-0 spurt in the first 3:30 laid the foundation for an 82-58 romp over West Roxbury. But East Boston saw a 16-point lead dwindle to 1 before knocking off O'Bryant, 55-51, at Madison Park.
They'll meet for the title tonight at 6:30 at Madison.
Eastie streaked to a 16-4 lead in the first 5:14 and kept up the attack in the first half to take a 32-17 lead. But the Tigers stayed within striking distance in the third quarter and, powered by guard Chris Flores (25 points), they ripped off a 12-2 run in the fourth to cut the deficit to 44-43 with 3:54 to go.
But senior forward Jarrett Calhoun would not let the Jets yield. After hitting a free throw to make it 45-43, he spun into the paint on the next possession and scored for a 4-point spread with 2:05 to go.
"I've told Calhoun that he's a 6-2 power forward, but he's got a back-to-the-basket game that's better than anyone else's in the city," said coach Malcolm Smith. "I told him, 'You know, the cute guards can float out to the perimeter, but I need you to get down on the blocks.' He's big for us, he averages 8 points in the last three minutes of every game for us, so I know I can count on him down on the block area in that time."
O'Bryant's Chris Harris answered with a jumper to cut the lead to 2, but forward Richie Pehna returned the favor with a basket to make it 49-45. Calhoun was fouled with 35.8 seconds left and hit two free throws for a 51-46 Jets lead. Eastie added buckets from Jeff Cannon and Pehna to seal the win.
O'Bryant coach Juan Figueroa was not impressed with his team's performance and took little solace in the Tigers' rally.
"We were just half a step slow," he said. "I can't explain what happened. We just didn't show up to play, I don't think. We started playing in the fourth quarter, and that's too late against this kind of team."
Charlestown coach Steve Cassidy didn't have that problem against West Roxbury.
From the tipoff, the Townies' swarming defense forced West Roxbury into turnovers that led to a feast of fast-break points. Leading the charge on offense was Charlestown's three-headed monster - seniors Ravon Dunbar (team-high 18 points) and Greg Hackett (15) and junior Shabazz Napier (13). But it seemed every Townie was getting in on the defensive act.
"That's the key to us," said Cassidy. "We don't have one superstar. You know, we just got to keep subbing guys in and hope that the pressure wears [opponents] down."
What's behind Charlestown's success, depth or defense?
"I think it's our defense, actually," said Dunbar, who helped keep the Raiders' top threat, Gerard Coleman (16 points), under wraps, although Coleman scored his 1,000th career point early in the second half. "We wanted to keep Gerard off the ball, because he's a very good scorer. They kept him in the whole game, so we had different rotations on him. Me, Shabazz, everybody was on him and he got tired eventually. He couldn't do nothing else."