(VIDEO) Jones-Drayton Leads New Mission to 2017 Boston City Championship

Friday, February 24th, 2017

(VIDEO) Jones-Drayton Leads New Mission to 2017 Boston City Championship
The 2017 New Mission Titans - Boston City League Champions

By Nate Weitzer for Mass Prep Stars

BOSTON – Over the past several seasons, the New Mission girls’ high school basketball team has consistently competed for a Boston City League championship. There has been one opponent, however, who has stood firmly in the way of their championship dreams.

On Thursday afternoon at Madison Park High, the Titans finally got over the hump, by defeating rival Fenway, 55-50, in a thrilling tournament final.

“We matched [Fenway’s] intensity and turned them over a little more than they expected. We held the pace that we wanted through the majority of the game and it got stagnant for a bit, but we held our composure,” said Titans head coach Mitchell Hercule.

The Fenway Panthers had won the BCL Tournament in four of the past five seasons, including a 55-53 overtime win over New Mission last February. The Titans upperclassmen entered Thursday's contest with plenty of motivation.

After falling behind 10-2 in the opening minutes, New Mission (15-9) went on a 22-4 run in the second quarter / early third to build a 31-18 advantage.

The comeback was a result of New Mission forcing eight turnovers, a complete reversal from a rough first quarter, in which the Titans committed 11 turnovers to spot Fenway (13-7) a 14-9 lead after eight minutes.

In the second quarterm, junior forward Mataya Young (12 points, 10 rebounds, 3 steals) was everywhere for New Mission, as she recorded 10 points, five rebounds and two steals in that frame alone.

“We were ready and determined,” Young said. “We had our energy set since we got off the bus, but [Fenway] was hungry like us, so I wanted us to stay in a positive mindset and just try to bring us together.”

The defending champion Panthers delivered a formidable counterpunch in the second half, led by a 17-point third quarter, to came all the way back and take a 44-42 lead on a bucket from junior point guard Dasiah Thornton (12 points, 5 assists) early in the fourth.

Junior cocaptains Shania Tarver (17 points) and Me’ara Carter (15 points, 12 rebounds) continued to will the BCL South champion Panthers, as they held a 49-47 lead with just under 90 seconds to play.

But the will of the Titans proved stronger.

New Mission senior captain Taneja Jones-Drayton only scored two points in the first half, but came alive with 21 in the second half including the final eight points of the game.

She also recorded her 1,000th point on a third-quarter free throw before taking over down the stretch with two key lay-ups and four clutch free throws to seal it.

“Our team is young,” Jones-Drayton said. “I’m the oldest one on the team and I had to lead them, so that’s what I did. I went out and played hard and my teammates followed behind me for the win.”

 

Stars Who Shined

 

New Mission

(l-r) New Mission stars - Jones Drayton, Young and Serrette

Taneja Jones-Drayton ‘17 F – The senior made waves in her first year with New Mission, as she led the Titans to their first BCL championship since 2011.

After the game, an emotional Jones-Drayton (scoring below) explained how she blew a lay-up in conference tournament game to end last season and how her sister passed away in July, inspiring her to give her all this season.

“I tell Taneja she’s the best player in the city and she doesn’t always believe it,” Hercule said. “Well, she should believe it after a performance like this. She kept us in the game and brought it home.”

Mataya Young ‘18 F – It appeared as though the Titans were headed towards another disappointing loss to a Fenway team that’s knocked them out of the state tournament twice over the last five years and crushed their hopes for a BCL title last year, but Young wasn’t having it.

Young scores in traffic

The junior was the catalyst during New Mission’s excellent defensive second quarter and she added 10 of he 12 points during that frame.

“{Young] is one of the best players in the City [League] that no one knows about and she’s our defensive force,” Hercule effused. “She does whatever it takes to win on the defensive end.”

Kiara Serrette ‘18 F – Another junior who played a key role for the victorious Titans, Serrette snared 10 rebounds and defended Panthers captain Me’ara Carter throughout the night. She grabbed the tough boards down the stretch that lead to buckets for Jones-Drayton and others.

 

Fenway

Me’ara Carter ‘18 F – The tallest player on the court seemed to be the hungriest early on, as he called for the ball and scored six points in the paint during the first quarter.

Carter dishes to Thornton

Carter’s hustle produced multiple second chance opportunities down the stretch and she finished with six rebounds on the offensive end in addition to six on the defensive end and two bigtime

Shania Tarver ‘18 G – Tarver set the tone by knocking down a three on the game’s first possession and she played very well down the stretch.

She nailed another triple to respond to a three from Jones-Drayton and was at the center of the Panthers comeback during the third and early fourth quarters.

Tarver goes coast-to-coast

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