After trailing for most of the first three quarters, New Mission came alive late when it mattered most.
The Titans took momentum with a 21-10 advantage in the third and eventually came away with the 64-52 win over Latin Academy in a Boston City League semifinal at Madison Park Wednesday afternoon. The Titans will face three-time defending BCL champion Fenway, who held off O’Bryant, 57-56, in the other semifinal.
“What we did in the third, is what we were supposed to do in the first two,” said New Mission coach Vinny Bui. “Sometimes, it takes a little bit of yelling. It takes a little bit of waking up for (my players) to play attention. Essentially, down the stretch, we knew we had to key in on three of (Latin Academy’s) players.”
Staring at a 32-23 halftime deficit, New Mission (15-3) rallied with an 11-2 run to knot the score, 34-34. The teams traded buckets down the stretch, but a late basket for senior Rayla Gonzalez (team-high 19 points) gave the Titans their first lead, 44-42, after three quarters.
New Mission continued to keep the pressure on Latin Academy (11-9) in the fourth as senior Ashlee Serrette scored eight of her 17 points in the quarter, including a three to start a 12-3 run to end the contest.
“Ashley is amazing,” Bui said. “We lost her to some injuries last year and not having her was a huge blow to us for the program. What it did, was make her hungrier and made other players better.”
“Shout out to my team,” Serrette said. “They were the ones who helped me get open and get the ball. … They just motivate me — the whole team. They are my family.”
The Dragons went down 50-45 after a Gonzalez layup, but a couple steals and layup for Latin Academy led to a 50-49 deficit with 3:30 remaining. After that, the Titans took over on both ends of the floor as they forced turnovers and missed shots for Latin Academy down the stretch as New Mission forced 18 of Latin Academy’s 24 turnovers in the second half with nine in each quarter.
In the first half, Latin Academy held all the momentum as they started on a 10-1 run to start the first and ended up with a 22-9 advantage after a three-pointer with 0.4 seconds left for sophomore Ruth Norton. New Mission got a buzzer beater of their own to end the second as Gonzalez netted a putback to make it a 32-23 contest at the break.
Fenway (12-7) earned a shot at a four-peat but it didn’t come easy in a foul-filled contest. Standout center Kayana Armbrister sat for a chunk of the second half with four fouls, but came on strong down the stretch, scoring seven of her 22 points in the fourth quarter to go along with 12 rebounds and five blocked shots.
Imani Terry tallied 15 for the Panthers, while Janyah Gulley added seven points and five rebounds before fouling out midway through the third quarter.
O’Bryant (12-8) was led by junior forward Jahbria Horsley with 23 points, 10 in the fourth quarter. Lina Guerrero also had a terrific all-around game with 12 points, eight rebounds and five assists, while D.J. Rousseau pulled down 18 rebounds.