Senior guard Shaquan Murray notched his 1,000th career point and senior forward Asante Sandiford earned tournament MVP honors, but New Mission’s 73-54 City League championship victory over East Boston Thursday was truly a team effort.
“They’re such a great group of kids. I can’t even put it into logical words,” New Mission coach Cory McCarthy said. “Those are incredibly good kids.”
Sandiford scored a game-high 21 points, Murray added 19, and junior guard Tyrique Lee finished with 12.
Sandiford said although it felt “really good” to be named the MVP, the award is actually for all of his teammates.
“I really appreciate them, they’re giving me the ball, they’re feeding me inside so I just really appreciate that,” Sandiford said. “The MVP doesn’t go to me, it’s a team game. We have team chemistry and we’re a family.”
The 6-foot- 4-inch Sandiford led the Titans’ offensive charge from the opening tip. He drew a foul with an aggressive drive on New Mission’s first possession and sank one of two free throws to give New Mission a lead they would never relinquish.
After one quarter, the Titans led, 22-11.
New Mission’s offensive dominance continued in the second quarter. Murray, who entered the game 10 points away from the 1,000 mark, nailed a 3-pointer with 2:55 to play in the frame to eclipse the milestone.
“It’s amazing. It’s a blessing,” Murray said. “Words cannot express how I feel about it right now.”
At halftime, New Mission held a 38-27 advantage.
East Boston (14-7) tried to stage a comeback in the second half, but struggled to find an offensive rhythm. Jets junior guard Dion Knight, who scored 35 points in East Boston’s semifinal matchup, was well-defended by Lee and senior guard Kordell Harris.
“Dion Knight’s a stud,” McCarthy said. “And we had to really focus on him to make sure he wasn’t the one that was gonna beat us. And that formula worked tonight.”
Knight finished with 18 points for East Boston. Senior guard Marcus Shaw scored 11.
The Titans played with intensity until the final buzzer. Sandiford scored 5 points in the final frame to complete his MVP performance.
McCarthy praised Sandiford’s effort in the game.
“He came to play,” McCarthy said. “His hand is a little bit banged up from yesterday’s game, he was all banged up, he’s running around with a band-aid on his head. But you know what, he’s a kid who has developed to a utility basketball player that any college program could use. 6-4, can shoot, can dribble, can pass, can play defense.”
The Titans (18-2) posted the best record in the city league this season and are in position to make a serious run in the state tournament. Sandiford said the team is going to work hard and “bring a lot of heart” in the postseason.
“At the end of the games when it’s close and tight, it’s not about talent,” Sandiford said. “It’s about your heart and who really wants it. And we want it. We’re hungry.”
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