Brockton big man Sayvonn Houston (13 points, 12 rebounds, and 9 blocks) continued his run of strong tournament performances on Saturday, just missing a triple-double, as the Boxers walked away with a 57-48 win over Madison Park in the Division 1 South finals at UMass-Boston’s Clark Athletic Center.
The fourth-ranked Boxers (22-2) were treated to a chorus of “Boston Garden” chants from their fans as they made their way to the locker room after holding the seventh-ranked Cardinals to just 14 field goals in the game.
Brockton will face off against Charlestown in the Division 1 state semifinals at TD Garden on Monday.
“It’s real nice [to be heading to the TD Garden],” said Brockton coach Robert Boen. “I have one guy who has been there before – Jahleel Moise – he made it with us as a freshman, so he’s been on the garden floor before. But the kids are really very excited about getting to play there.”
Houston, who stands 6-foot-6, entered the game coming off a 20 point, 21 rebound performance in a 49-44 win over Newton North in the South semifinals this past Wednesday. He battled with Madison Park big man Dakim Murray (8 points, 10 rebounds) all game.
Although the Boxers had several double-digit leads in the game, they didn’t put it away until Houston grabbed his 11th board of the night and hit a streaking Jahleel Moise (eight points) for an emphatic two-handed jam to put Brockton up 50-39 with 2:26 to left to play in the game.
“A play like that was what we needed,” Boen said. “We had tightened up a little bit after getting that big lead and [Madison Park] came back and the game had become grinding. Then Jahleel does that and it’s like, that’s right we can do stuff like this, OK lets get back to being aggressive.”
Brockton scored the first 6 points of the game, forcing Madison Park coach Dennis Wilson to call a timeout. The Cardinals took 3 minutes and 30 seconds to score their first points, but once they did they rallied to tie the score at 6 with 2:30 to play in the first.
A Jaylen Blakely 3-pointer as time expired, gave the Boxers a 14-10 lead after one.
Brockton outscored the Cardinals, 19-13, in the second to enter the half leading by 10, 33-23.
The Cardinals defense went to work in the third quarter, holding the Boxers to just 6 points in the quarter while David Stewart netted 10 of his team-high 17 points to send Madison Park into the fourth quarter trailing 39-33.
Brockton bounced back to score 18 in the fourth quarter, highlighted by Moise’s dunk, eventually pulling away for the nine-point victory.
“It’s a wonderful group [I’ve got],” Boen said. “At the start of the year, I wouldn’t have thought we were going to win the South sectionals. They’ve done more than I thought they could and they get better every day.
“Once you get this far, I think everyone’s feeling a ton of pressure,” added Boen. “We’ve been to the Garden before, four years ago, but we lost there, so we need to get one step further.”
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