DORCHESTER, Mass. – The 2011 Beantown Slam Basketball League is in full swing, and as has always been the case the action is competitive. The renovated Dorchester House is still home to all the action, with many games having a packed house for an audience.
While the league once again boasts most of the schools from the Boston City League, there is good company for them from outside the city. Plenty of good schools from outside the city like Boston College High School, Catholic Memorial, Lynn English and Newton North are competing and at least giving the city schools all they can handle. A couple of them came up just short on Saturday in mid-afternoon games, and with that, we take a look at some notes from the league up to this point.
- Two-time defending state champion New Mission has sat several players recently due to academics. But one player who has kept it up in the classroom and is becoming a force on the hardwood is Malcolm Martin. A wide body inside, Martin has always fiercely competed on the floor, which is a big reason why his weight hasn’t held him back. The sophomore has lost a good deal of weight and moves even better now, and he’s showing good fundamentals inside at the offensive end. If he keeps that up and the talented young guards can grow up quickly, it won’t be a surprise if New Mission is a state champion once again in March.
- Brighton High School made a good run in the state tournament last year before they couldn’t get past city foe New Mission. With much of last year’s team back, they figure to be even better this time around. While sophomore point guard Malik James is the best prospect on the team and makes them go, there’s plenty of balance. In addition, the player who might be the big X-factor is Nick Simpson, a versatile do-everything player who is capable of making plays all over the court. If he is the player he has been at times in Dorchester, Brighton will have a chance for a deeper run in the state this time around.
- Late Saturday afternoon, West Roxbury scored a thrilling 43-42 win over Lynn English in a hard-fought game that was a good showcase for both teams, including their stars. Lynn English carried the play early, thanks to the play of guards Kadeem Greene and Freddie Hogan, and then star forward Keandre Stanton was the best player on the floor. But West Roxbury grabbed the momentum late in the first half and carried it into the second half, and while Stanton came up big a few times for Lynn English it was Markus Neale and West Roxbury who came out on top.
- West Roxbury recently lost point guard Mike Rodriguez, as he left to go to a prep school. With that, Neale will have to shoulder more ball-handling responsibilities, something he is capable of doing. His supporting cast is okay aside from sophomore forward Freddie Oliveira, so one thing Neale will have to do with the ball in his hands more is make teammates better.
- While they don’t have the kind of senior-heavy team that they’ve made big runs with before, Madison Park looks like they have the personnel to make some noise in the Boston City League. There is some class balance with four seniors and three juniors leading the way, but head coach Dennis Wilson will surely lean first on his seniors. Point guard Ray Matthews has “earned his stripes,” Wilson says, while forward David Stewart is very athletic and a live body who was a big key in their win on Saturday. Dakym Murray has a big body and moves it reasonably well, and they’ll certainly try to get the ball inside to him often. Amidst the upperclassmen, the only freshman on the team, Xavier Munoz, will be too good to keep on the bench all the time as brings a different energy to the team in a reserve role.
- The team Madison Park knocked off on Saturday is Catholic Memorial, a team that looks to be trending upward again. The Knights have more talent and also just got back their leader, senior guard Matt Droney, who had missed several weeks after a broken finger on his left hand required surgery. Droney and junior Chris Siggers give them a solid backcourt to work with, and while Gerard Adams needs to continue to get in better shape, he can be a nice piece to the puzzle inside as he’s fundamentally sound and moves well for his body.