Early Burke run not enough; Charlestown comes back and wins City League BBall title

Former Mildred Avenue middle school standout Malik Adamson (10) came up big on defense and offense in the first two quarters of the City Championship for Burke. However, early dominance by Burke faded in the fourth quarter as Charlestown muscled its way past the Bulldogs, preventing a Burke three-peat. Photo by Seth Daniel

Dorchester’s Jeremiah Burke High School boys’ basketball team was looking for a three-peat in the City League Championships last Thursday (Feb. 22) at the Madison Park gymnasium, but a tough Charlestown team under Coach Hugh Coleman refused to stay down after Burke came out hot in the early going.

By the end, the Townies muscled their way with a fourth quarter surge to beat the Burke squad, 72-56.

Both teams are preparing this week for their respective State Tournament games, which kick off Thursday.

The City Championship was a rematch of last year’s title game, when Burke defeated Charlestown for its second-straight title win with a packed house and an energetic crowd gathered to see two of the best teams in the state square off.

Early on, it seemed as if the Burke Bulldogs – under first-year Head Coach Joe Chatman - were going to cruise. A stifling press led by junior stars Jaeden Roberts and Jaeshawn Rogers produced confusion for the Townies, who at first couldn’t get simple layups to fall, let alone any three-point shots.

During one span in the first quarter, Rogers hit two three-pointers in 90 seconds, and several steals led to easy baskets, giving the Burke boys a commanding 15-1 lead. Nothing was going right for the Townies, and Coach Coleman could be seen grasping his head in frustration – this after an amazing run and tournament win over several suburban teams in the Comcast Tournament only a few days earlier.

Stepping up big in the first half on offense and defense for the Bulldogs was sophomore guard Malik Adamson – a former middle school standout from Mattapan’s Mildred Avenue School. Forcing steals, hitting threes, and getting easy put-backs in the lane on offensive rebounds, Adamson seemed to fill a gap in the scoring by star player Roberts – who was clearly nursing an injured right wrist after a hard fall in the semi-final game against East Boston.

With five minutes left in the second quarter, Adamson grabbed a missed shot in the middle of the lane, weaved toward the basket, and put in an uncontested layup. It prompted a time out from Charlestown.

Things began to turn, though, as the scoring onslaught took a bit of a lull and Roberts collected his third foul. The Townies surged late and brought it to 29-22 with less than one minute left in the half. However, a nifty inbound play to big man Gerald Banks under the basket as time expired gave some momentum going to intermission.

The third quarter brought more of the same, but there was a different feel to the game as the Burke crew had to pull back on their press due to so many players in foul trouble, and the Townies seemingly had made halftime adjustments to counter the pressure. That allowed them to utilize their larger lineup, taking the ball to the basket as Burke began to make errors, including traveling calls back-to-back.

Still, the energy of the Burke boys kept Charlestown on their heels, and Rogers knocked in a layup and later converted a free throw to put Burke up by 44-33.

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The fourth quarter, however, was a continuing story of the Townies muscling their way to the basket, and Burke’s smaller lineup not being able to match up. Burke kept it close; it was tied at 52 with four minutes left. But after Banks fouled out, Charlestown went on a 21-4 run, hitting three-pointers and making numerous baskets in transition. With time running down, Charlestown’s Jaylen Hunter-Coleman took it the distance (in photo above by Joe Allen), and wrapped in a dipsy-do layup that crushed any Bulldog hopes for a comeback. The final score: 72-56.

It was the Townies’ first City League Championship since 2011.

Both teams qualified for the State Tournament in pairings released last weekend. The Burke (16-4) got a sixth seed in the Division 4 State Tournament, earning a bye in the first round. They are set to face either Millis or St. Mary (Westfield) on Thursday evening. Charlestown received a number one seed in the Division 3 State Tournament and earned a first-round bye also. They will face either Dighton-Rehoboth or Nipmuc Regional this week.


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