By Amara Grautski, Globe Correspondent | February 8, 2010
Coach Greg Berry boasted his own version of the Big Three last season, with Bianca Flores, Myesha Reynolds, and Nyiesha Kelley acting as the driving offensive force for New Mission.
But with Flores and Reynolds gone this season, the new year deserved a new catchphrase for Berry and company.
“It went from the Big Three to the Fab Five,’’ Berry joked. “This year this team is collectively the best team that I’ve coached, period. On any given day, of the five players on the floor, four of them can be in double figures and that’s the good thing about them.’’
The Titans starters include sensational sophomores Edna Cristo-Jon and Shacora Williams, freshman power forward Donaziah Fountain, junior small forward Chreese Hall, and the returning Kelley.
Fountain stands at 5 feet 10 inches, and the second-year coach referred to her as the best eighth-grade basketball player he’d seen last year. Another freshman, Teakeyah White, is 6 feet tall and adds more height to the lineup. Also on board are freshman Tshani Williams-Core and junior Kimyana Dardy.
Kelley is the leading scorer, averaging 17.8 points per game, 9.2 assists, and 6.5 steals. But she gets plenty of help from Hall (15.5 ppg) and Fountain (14.3 ppg). Kelley is also the team captain, and Berry is thankful to have her back.
“She’s actually taken on the challenge of running the team, and I think she’s arguably one of the best point guards and senior leaders that I’ve had in a long time,’’ Berry said. “That’s going to help her when she goes to college next year.’’
Kelley is currently being scouted by five colleges and has inspired a sense of academic excellence in the team.
“I think our whole team is looking to get scholarships,’’ Berry said. “They’ve all come in and had a strong impact in the classroom, as well. This year’s team is more focused on speed and becoming a better ballplayer, but also trying to maintain the word ‘student’ in student athlete.’’
Berry insists this year’s squad is stronger on defense and even more up-tempo than the last, and it’s had a strong season as the Boston City League championship approaches. The Titans stand at 14-1 overall and 12-1 in league play.
New Mission fell to West Roxbury, 51-39, in its second game of the season, but the team avenged that loss in the rematch, 64-41.
This week the team will focus on the future by reviewing the past, watching the tape of its 65-57 loss to Georgetown in last year’s North Division 4 final.
“For the returning players, if you bring up the team Georgetown with the date that we lost, they kind of drop their heads,’’ Berry said. “But they kind of take away the experience of getting that close and learning how to start games faster.’’
Cardinal Spellman (11-5) enters the ranks at No. 18, after defeating ranked St. Mary’s, 40-37, Wednesday. The team’s only losses have been to Top 20 teams.
Trinity Catholic junior center Taina Malary tallied 40 rebounds in Friday’s 43-36 overtime win over Marian. The rebound total tied for the eighth highest in girls’ basketball history, with the national single-game record standing at 54, set in 1995 by Andrea Keehne of Calvary Baptist in California.
Games to watch
Monday: No. 11 Durfee (13-3) at Carver (11-6), 6:30 p.m. – The Hilltoppers haven’t faced Carver since their first game of the season, when they won a 55-53 overtime nail-biter.
Tuesday: No. 5 Brockton (15-2) at No. 1 New Bedford (17-0), 7 p.m. – One of the last Big Three match-ups, this meeting between top-ranked and undefeated New Bedford and Brockton will be a high-energy showdown. The Whalers took their last game, 53-52.