Behind a game-high 25 points from sophomore forward Fru'nwi Che, the Somerville boys' basketball team defeated East Boston, 54-45, Tuesday night to advance to the quarterfinal round of the Division 1 North tournament.
Frus the coach's dream, Highlanders coach Mark Antonelli said. You can yell at him, you can praise him, and his expression never changes."
Somerville kicked off the scoring but Jets junior guard Dion Knight answered with two straight layups to give East Boston and early 4-2 advantage.
After a low-scoring first quarter, Somerville led, 12-8.
We made a lot of mistakes, Antonelli said. It was a sloppy game offensively for us but I felt like they really stuck together and made the key defensive plays.
The second quarter was another poor offensive showing for both teams. With just seconds left on the clock, the Highlanders held a 23-19 lead. But as the buzzer sounded, Knight drilled a 3-pointer to cut Somerville's lead to just 1.
At halftime in the locker room the last thing I said to them was do you want to go home or do you want to keep on playing? Antonelli said.
Somerville jumped out to a 29-23 lead early in the third quarter, but Jets junior forward Kevin Sinatra and Knight nailed back-to-back treys to tie the game.
Despite the brief burst of sharp shooting, the Highlanders defense refused to let East Boston find an offensive rhythm. Knight nailed another 3-pointer but Somerville senior guard Rayoni Matos answered with a 3 of his own, stifling the Jets surge.
Somerville led, 37-36, after three quarters.
Honestly we needed to step up, we were making too many mistakes on offense, too many turnovers, Che said. Transition defense was kinda shaky.
Knight opened the final quarter with a nifty move to the rim, scoring and drawing a foul. He hit the free throw to complete the 3-point play and give East Boston the lead.
A layup from senior guard Marcus Shaw extended the Jets' lead to four, but Che answered to pull Somerville within 2.
Two free throws by Somerville junior guard Salim Warsame knotted the game at 41 with four minutes to play.
A Che layup gave the Highlanders the lead. The Jets struggled to score as time ran off the clock, thanks to relentless defense from senior guard Kervinson Exilus and a strong rebounding effort by the entire Somerville squad.
Che said he knew the Highlanders could wrap up the win in the final two minutes.
We hit our free throws, Che said. We got the ball over half and just broke their press.
Eight points from Che and 3 from Exilus closed out the victory.
Knight finished with 23 points for the Jets. Warsame and junior forward Jonathan Santana Arias each finished with 10 points for Somerville.
The Highlanders will take on Greater Boston League rival Everett in the quarterfinal round.
Its gonna be a typical GBL battle, Antonelli said. Both teams know each other, both coaches know each other. Its gonna be a lot of fun.
Everett won both matchups with Somerville in the regular season, but the score was close in both games. In the season opener, Everett won by 6 points. In the most recent contest Feb. 7, the Crimson Tide won by 8.
Theyre a good team. Theyre a really good team, Che said of Everett. Last time we faced them it was close. We just gotta fix some mistakes and get back to practice tomorrow and hope for a win.
By late afternoon, there were no official turnout estimates available from city officials, but poll workers in Revere reported a steady flow of voters throughout the day for Tuesday's referendum on Mohegan Sun's proposal to build a $1.3 billion resort style casino at Suffolk Downs.
"I think the [turnout] has been equally steady citywide," said Joan Regan, a poll supervisor at St. Mary's Church in west Revere.
By mid-afternoon, nearly 1,000 voters had cast ballots at the church, the polling place for Ward 6, precincts 1 and 2.
Among the first voters was Revere mayor Dan Rizzo, who cast his ballot at about 8 a.m., Regan said.
Jane DeFronzo, 64, said she voted "yes" after casting her ballot just before 2 p.m. at St. Mary's.
"It's either going here or to Everett," said DeFronzo, who walked to the polls from her apartment nearby. "I'd like to see Revere get some money out of this."
Across the city on Broadway, the Reverend George Szal, pastor of Immaculate Conception Church, stood holding two "No Casino" sings.
"Short term gains, long term pains," Szal said, explaining his opposition. "This casino will not fulfill its promise. It might provide provide some jobs in the beginnings but they won't last."
Szal said he was among the first in line, at 7 a.m. at Revere High School to cast his "no" vote.
The battle lines between supporters and opponents were clearly drawn. Cars, trucks, and even a mini-bus circled the city, plastered with red and blue "Vote Yes" signs or yellow and red "No Casino" signs.
Volunteers from each camp held signs outside many of the city's 21 polling locations, which included schools, churches, and fire stations.
They waved to motorists and flashed "thumbs up" whenever drivers beeped in support.
More than 200 workers are staffing the city's 21 polling places. Revere has 25,680 registered voters, and a flurry of new registrations were made in the run-up to the election.
Voters will be asked to decide if Mohegan Sun should be allowed to develop a casino on 52 acres of land on the Revere side of Suffolk Downs, a 160-acre thoroughbred race track that also lies in East Boston.
The Revere Beach-themed development would include two hotels, chic shops and restaurants, and a 24-hour casino overlooking the race track.
The outcome will determine if Mohegan Sun will remain a contender in the state's casino sweepstakes.
A "yes" vote will allow the project to advance before the state's gambling commission.
A "no" vote would kill the project, since the state's gambling law requires local approval.
Mohegan Sun is competing against Wynn Resorts of Las Vegas for the one license to operate a resort casino in Greater Boston, which is expected to be awarded by the state gambling commission in May or June.
Wynn proposes to build a $1 billion resort casino on vacant industrial land on the Mystic River. Everett voters last June approved that project, voting 86 percent in favor.
In Revere, the ballot will include a summary of key economic benefits of a host community agreement, a key requirement of the state's gambling law.
Mohegan Sun's agreement with Revere calls for the Connecticut-based casino company to make a one-time payment of $33 million to the city, plus annual payments of $25 million to $30 million.
Revere residents also would receive hiring preference for the estimated 2,500 temporary construction jobs, and 4,000 permanent jobs expected to be created if the project is approved.
Still, Mohegan's proposal has unleashed heated debate among city residents. On Sunday, supporters and opponents held dueling rallies trying to convince voters to approve or defeat the project.
Tuesday's election will mark the second time since November that Revere voters have been asked to approve a casino at Suffolk Downs.
An earlier proposal, which did not identify a casino operator, won 60 percent of the vote. But the proposal was soundly defeated in East Boston.
Suffolk Downs then partnered with Mohegan Sun to propose a new project to be built solely in Revere.
Senior guard Shaquan Murray notched his 1,000th career point and senior forward Asante Sandiford earned tournament MVP honors, but New Missions 73-54 City League championship victory over East Boston Thursday was truly a team effort.
Theyre such a great group of kids. I cant 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, theyre giving me the ball, theyre feeding me inside so I just really appreciate that, Sandiford said. The MVP doesnt go to me, its a team game. We have team chemistry and were 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 Missions 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 Missions 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.
Its amazing. Its 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 Bostons semifinal matchup, was well-defended by Lee and senior guard Kordell Harris.
Dion Knights a stud, McCarthy said. And we had to really focus on him to make sure he wasnt 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 Sandifords effort in the game.
He came to play, McCarthy said. His hand is a little bit banged up from yesterdays game, he was all banged up, hes running around with a band-aid on his head. But you know what, hes 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 its close and tight, its not about talent, Sandiford said. Its about your heart and who really wants it. And we want it. Were hungry.
Think your child has what it takes to become one of Boston’s inaugural Lego ambassadors?
From now until March 14, LEGOLAND Discovery Center Boston will be accepting applications from children ages 5 to 12 to participate on a team to help LEGOLAND become the best attraction of its kind.
Kelly Smith, Marketing Manager at LEGOLAND Discovery Center Boston, said this is another step that will bring the discovery center closer to its opening in May. The group selected Ian Coffey as the new master model builder on January 26, and now Coffey will select his panel of child advisors to give feedback on the new center.
“We had our Brick Factor competition to find the master model builder, but every one needs a great team of support,” Smith said. “So we’ve developed the junior competition, which will allow 12 kids to be part of a team to help Ian with events and activities leading up to grand opening, as well as after the fact.”
Ian Coffey, the master model builder for Boston’s LEGOLAND Discovery Center, said he is excited to select the team of children that will comprise the junior construction panel and that he will be looking for a variety of qualities in the applications.
“It’s my first real responsibility, which I’m really excited for,” Coffey said. “The things I’m looking for is how creative the children can be, how enthusiastic they are, and how their imagination comes about . . . [I’m looking for] who really had all those things coming together when they built with the Lego bricks.”
As part of the application, children must include a video or photo and written response explaining what makes them the biggest Lego fan and why they should be part of the panel. They should also show something they built with Lego bricks. Coffey said he is excited to see the responses and what the kids come up with by themselves.
“In an essay, I want to see the kid. I love the raw child, even a handwritten note,” Coffey said. “When you’re reading it and you can really see that they’re engaged in what they’re writing, that’s the kind of stuff that’s going to stick out to me.”
Smith said that while a major part of being ambassador is testing the rides and being excited about the attraction, another part is providing feedback to the center. She said LEGOLAND is an attraction for children, and as such their opinions help make the center the best it can be. She said that in the process, it also provides children a great opportunity to interact with adults and grow through working in a team atmosphere.
“It’s a team of 12, so they will need to work together and develop skills of teamwork. But also, interpersonal skills, speaking skills and confidence will be gained throughout the year . . . It’s a pretty strong role for a child,” Smith said. “[We’re looking for] children who feel comfortable working with a variety of different people.”
Smith said it will be interesting to see the number of children who apply. She said it’s great to be able to offer those selected the chance to experience the discovery center before it officially opens in May.
“The Discovery Center is a really exciting attraction coming to the Boston area,” Smith said. “It’s kind of a unique opportunity for a child to be able to experience something so new and great and incorporate it with a toy that’s so educational and constructive. It’s such a great toy that so many children love.”
Coffey hopes that parents will encourage and help their Lego-loving children to apply. He said that for him, it was all about taking steps towards what he loves, and he hopes a lot of children will do the same.
“I want kids to come out of this after day one saying this is my dream, I can reach it. I can do this,” Coffey said. “The creativity, design, imagination, you can build those and shape them, but I really want children to understand that if they want to become something—even become a junior panelist—to just keep going for it.”
LEGOLAND Discovery Center Boston will be accepting applications for its junior construction panel from now until March 14. The 12 winners will be announced on their Facebook page on March 17. For contest rules and to apply, visit the LEGOLAND’s website.
East Boston earned a 59-57 overtime victory over Dorchester in the first matchup and New Mission defeated Snowden, 66-50, in the late game Wednesday at Madison Park. The two teams will go head-to-head in the city championship Thursday.
In the first semifinal, junior guard Dion Knight carried East Boston with a game-high 35 points. He scored 9 in the first quarter and gave the Jets an early 16-7 lead.
We gotta ride him, hes our go-to guy. We go as Dion goes, East Boston coach Shawn Brown said. And in that situation its get the ball to Dion and we play off of Dion, its no secret.
Dorchesters defense tightened up in the second quarter. After trailing, 23-10, The Bears went on a 16-4 run behind two 3-pointers from senior guard/forward Tavon Smallpiece and trailed by just 1 at halftime.
After a low-scoring third quarter, Dorchester led, 36-35.
The teams swapped 1-point leads to start the fourth quarter. Down 42-41, Knight gave East Boston its largest lead of the frame after a layup and a 3-pointer. Layups from Dorchester junior guard Justin Clarke and Smallpiece tied the game at 46 with just over a minute to play.
Neither team could score in the final seconds and the game headed to overtime.
It was a scary thing, Knight said. I thought we were gonna lose. I had to keep my head in the game.
Brown said he told his team that overtime was just four more minutes to win the game.
I told them at that point its about them, Brown said. They gotta want it more, its about who wants it more. And they came out and worked hard.
Overtime was much like the final quarter. The teams traded buckets and the score was knotted at 55 with 1:47 to play. Knight sank two free throws to give East Boston the edge, but senior guard Khail Newson made a layup to tie the game once again.
With just 34.8 seconds left on the clock, Mitchell scored to put the Jets on top. Dorchester was unable to score on its final possession and East Boston escaped with the victory.
Dorchester senior guard Markus Neale notched his 1,000th career point and finished with 15 in the loss.
In the second game, New Mission coach Cory McCarthy earned his 200th win and senior forward Fred Rivers scored a game-high 21 points for the Titans. Senior forward Asante Sandiford added 12 points, including three huge one-handed dunks.
Snowden, theyre a good team, Rivers said. They came out, they gave us their best in the first and then we felt we needed to turn it up a little notch so we came out and tried to have as much fun as we could playing.
Boston City League champions will be crowned this week in girls basketball, boys basketball and boys hockey. Basketball will be held at Madison Park with the hockey championship at Northeasterns Matthews Arena.
The action kicks off Tuesday with the girls basketball semifinals. The Boston South champion Dorchester Bears take on the runner-up from the North Division, South Boston, at 4 p.m.
South Boston earned an impressive 15-2 record this season. Dorchester, which finished at 9-8, will face an uphill battle as they try to knock off the Knights.
The second girls semifinal will begin at 5:30 p.m. with the champion from the North, Fenway, challenging Brighton, the South Divisions runner-up.
Fenway cruised to a perfect 12-0 City League record this season and is the favorite to win the title. Sophomore guard Takora McIntyre will look to carry her team in the tournament with her relentless defense and ability to score from all areas of the floor.
The winner of each semifinal will advance to the championship. The title game is scheduled for Thursday at 5 p.m.
The boys semifinals begin Wednesday at 4 p.m. with Central Division champion Dorchester going head-to-head with East Boston, the runner-up in the North Division.
Dorchester posted a 16-4 record this season courtesy of a high-powered offense comprised of seniors Markus Neale, Tavon Smallpiece, and Khail Newson. But Dorchester did lose to East Boston earlier this season, and the Bears defense will have its hands full with East Bostons sharpshooting junior forward Kevin Sinatra and junior guard Dion Knight. Knight has been one of the citys top scorers this season, consistently posting over 20 points per game.
Boston North champion New Mission will take on South champion Snowden in the second semifinal at 5:30 p.m.
New Mission fell to Brighton in last years city championship, but this year the Titans are in position to bring home the title. Snowden posted a 7-14 record this season and struggled against teams outside of the City League South Division. The Cougars will have a tough time containing New Missions high-scoring seniors Shaquan Murray and Asante Sandiford.
The boys championship game will be Thursday at 6:30 p.m., right after the girls championship.
A City League championship trophy for hockey will be awarded Wednesday morning at Matthews. Six-time defending champion Latin Academy will face off with East Boston for the title at 10 a.m.
The first time these two teams met this season, Latin Academy captain Mark Guerard netted a hat trick to give the Dragons a 5-3 victory. But East Boston refused to drop the second matchup and the two teams skated to a 3-3 tie. Although Latin Academy has won six straight titles, this is anyones game. If the Jets score early on Latin Academy goalie Thomas Guarino, who is only in eighth grade, East Boston could come away as the new City League champion.