Sayvonn Houston finished with 22 points for Brockton, none bigger than the two free throws he made with 15 seconds left in overtime, to put the Boxers up by three points over Charlestown in the Division 1 EMass championship at the TD Garden on Monday night.
Charlestown's Rony Fernandez followed with a missed 3-pointer and Brockton's William Baker chipped in two more free throws as the Boxers walked away, 67-64, winners.
“I love moments like that,” said Houston, who stands 6-foot-7. “I love the pressure, I like to feed off it. I told all my teammates, I’m going to make the free throws. I do it all the time in the heat of the moment when I know I’ve got to do it,I just go out and do it.”
Brockton’s Jamal Reuben (10 points), who only had six points in regulation, came up with two huge drives to set the tone in overtime and put the Boxers up 4.
“What worked [in overtime] was that we continued to be aggressive,” said Brockton coach Robert Boen. “Reuben got the ball and took it to the hoop strong a couple of times. He hadn’t done too much tonight, but at the end of the game he got in two very powerful moves to the basket."
With seven seconds left in regulation, Baker (6 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals) drove the baseline and went up for the game-winner but was turned away by Charlestown's Tyrik Jackson (6 points) who blocked his fifth shot on the attempt to send the game to overtime.
“We’ve lost three years in a row in the tournament in overtime,” Boen said. “So when we got there again tonight, I have to admit it crossed my mind.”
The Townies led for most of the first quarter, but with 20 seconds to play Baker went coast-to-coast for the Boxers to tie the game at 19.
Brockton’s Jaylen Blakely (15 points) called his own number with 4:15 to play in the second quarter to put the Boxers up, 30-23. Blakely drove on Fernandez (10 points), then faked a pull up jumper – which got Fernandez off his feet – and ducked under for the lay in, to the delight of the crowd. After one half of play, Brockton led 34-30.
Brockton fell behind in the third but finished with a flurry, highlighted by the play of Drew Fiske. The senior shooting guard hit an NBA-range three, took a huge charge and then connected on a last-second three as time expired to tie the game at 44.
“Fiske’s a fantastic shooter,” Boen said. “We count on him to come in and hit a couple of threes like that. The charge was just the perfect play. He got himself back, we were in trouble, they had numbers going to the basket, but he just stood there and [Tyrese Hoxter] ran over him.”
Hoxter came out aggressive in the fourth, scoring Charlestown's first 11 points, but the Boxers, who finished the game with 14 offensive rebounds, fought their way back to tie the game at 57. Neither team would score again in regulation.
Hoxter and Houston (14 rebounds) finished tied for the game-high in scoring with 22 points apiece.
The Boxers will now play for the Division 1 State title on Saturday at the DCU Center in Worcester against the winner of Tuesday’s St. John’s (Shrewsbury) and Central matchup.
“We’re feeling really good right now,” Houston said. “We have a big game Saturday, we're not satisfied yet, we wanted to win at the Garden, but right now we're going to get right back to focusing on the next game."
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