MCDERMOTT – For the first time since the 1991 and 1992 postseasons, the New Boston Tigers are sectional title winners following their 76-45 Division IV sectional final win over rival East Tuesday night at Northwest High School.
It wasn’t a single player’s performance that stood out in the Tigers sectional final win, although Kyle Sexton’s first half performance may have you think otherwise. It was more of a team win with four Tigers hitting the double figure mark, including Sexton who finished a game high 21 points and 16 rebounds, 16 of which came in the first half.
“Tyler (Caldwell) really stepped up in the second half,” said New Boston head coach Adam Cox following the Tigers’ 32 point win Tuesday night. “He had some really good finishes with great body control. He told me his dream was to play at the Convo whenever I first took the job, now we get to do that for the second straight year. Kyle’s first half really helped establish our lead early, got our guys settled in for the rest of the game.”
But it wasn’t just Sexton and Caldwell, freshmen Jerome McKinley and Grady Jackson, as well as junior Marcus Saunders had big games as well for the Tigers.
“Jerome was a ball hawk for us tonight. He was diving on loose balls left and right, finished with 12 points. Marcus Saunders finishes with 14 points off the bench, nine in the second half, he really shot the ball well. Grady Jackson may not have had his best scoring night (four points), but he did everything else well for us, finishing with four steals, four rebounds, and four assists.”
East made the first two shots of the night, including a three from Sean Hollen to take a 5-0 lead in the early goings. From there, however, it would be all Tigers. New Boston closed out the first quarter on an 18-7 run to take an 18-12 lead into the second quarter. Sexton finished the first with 12 of his 21 points, showcasing why he has an excellent shot at making one of the all-district teams.
In the second quarter, it was more of the same from the Tigers: up tempo transition offense and forcing turnovers with their in-your-face defense in route to a 22-12 second quarter, putting their lead at the half at a 40-24 margin.
In the second half, Tyler Caldwell scored 15 of his 19, Saunders scored nine, and the Tigers continued to roll to a 32 point sectional final win over the Tartans.
With East’s loss, thus ends the careers of seniors Kyle Flannery and Will Shope. Flannery and Shope finished their careers both as 1,000 point scorers, a mark achieved in the same game on February 12th against Clay, and both finished with a district finals appearance during their freshman season.
Despite the nature of the New Boston-East rivalry, Cox had nothing but praise for Flannery in Shope as they finished their careers in the Tartan uniform.
“They’re really great players, and even better young men,” said Cox. “A lot of our guys are friends with them. It’s been fun to watch them grow up and play, I’ve always enjoyed coaching against them.”
In their final game, Flannery finished with 19 while Shope finished with 10.
Following their sectional final win, New Boston advances to the Division IV district semifinals where they will meet county foe South Webster this Sunday March 2nd at 2 p.m.
Despite being non-conference opponents, this will be the third time in the last 364 days that the Jeeps and the Tigers will do battle. The first meeting came on March 4th last season in the same stage of the postseason tournament, a game that resulted in a 48-41 Jeeps win which propelled them to a district finals appearance.
This season, it was a December 1st meeting between these two Division IV programs that resulted in a 63-61 Jeeps win after Caldwell missed three free throws in the final seconds that would have given New Boston a huge road win to start their season.
Yet, when the Jeeps and Tigers do battle for the third time in the calendar year, the prior results won’t matter. It’s a new game, and the Tigers are hoping there will be a new winner.
“We’re excited to get back to the Convo,” said Cox. “We’re going to do it a lot different this year. Last year we were content that we made it there, this year we’re going there to win. This year we want to win, we want to focus on what we have to do to win. I think that’s the thing that’s different with this year’s team. Some of them have been there, now it won’t be as overwhelming since we’re used to the experience. Hopefully we’re able to settle in and get ready to go against South Webster.”
NB: 18-22-18-18 – 76
East: 12-12-10-11 – 45
NB: 35 FG, 3 3PT (Saunders 2), 3/9 FT. Scoring: Sexton 21, Caldwell 19, Saunders 14, McKinley 12, Jackson 4, Potts 2, Gosslien 2, Mays 2
East: 20 FG, 2 3PT (Flannery, Hollen 1), 3/9 FT. Scoring: Flannery 19, Shope 10, Smith 8, Hollen 6, Metzer 2