Check out a slide show from Wednesday’s Boston City League Championships girls semifinals.
By Justin A. Rice
ROXBURY — While launching an NBA-range fallaway 3-pointer at Madison Park High on Wednesday night, Khadijah Ellison took a forearm to the midsection that sent her reeling backwards.
By the time the shot went down the J.E. Burke junior point guard was practically at half court, flat on her back, and trying to glimpse the bucket that punched the Bulldogs’ ticket to the Boston City League Championships title bout for the first time in three seasons.
“That’s part of the game, if you can’t take contact don’t step on the hardwood,” Ellison said after the 66-62 semifinals victory against Fenway High.
Ellison, who is ranked No. 54 in the class of 2011 by ESPN, hit the long 3-pointer with 2:20 remaining to put her squad up 63-58.
“I got my form right, held it up there like my brother told me to do and I never gave it a chance to go out,” she said after scoring a game-high 33 points.
Ellison’s friend and former teammate, New Mission senior guard Niesha Kelley, had a hard time missing the game-clinching shot before the Titans defeated Boston Latin Academy, 52-48, in the second semifinal game on Wednesday night. New Mission and Burke will square off in the championship game at 5 p.m. on Friday night at Madison Park High.
“We can’t let her get those, we can’t let her get away with that,” Kelley said of Ellison’s shooting, acknowledging that there’s not much defense for those long bombs. “It’s in, right, we got something for that.”
Attending New Mission as a freshman, Ellison averaged 11 points per game a season after Kelley helped the Titans win the Division 4 state title. But after starting her sophomore season with New Mission Ellison transferred to Burke before sitting out the rest of the season.
New Mission (15-3) defeated Burke (14-4) twice this season but Ellison only played in the second meeting, which the Titans took 65-53 on the road.
“It’s going to be tough because it’s hard to beat a team three times,” Kelley, who scored a game-high 26 points against Latin Academy, said of Friday’s rematch with Burke.
“I’m not going to focus on [Ellison] even though she’s a good player because one person cannot beat you. [It takes] all five players. I’m excited though.”
A raw talent entering New Mission, Ellison didn’t come into her own until the city tournament during her freshman season. Many people credit Kelley for showing her the ropes of organized basketball.
“I see her like my little sister,” said Kelley, adding that it was tough when Ellison transferred. “Unfortunately I do [wish she played for us] but we don’t got her so we can’t worry about that.”
Watching Kelley knock down a free throw to put New Mission up 44-39 against Latin Academy in the third quarter on Wednesday, Ellison didn’t have much to say about the possibility of playing her old teammate.
“It’s business first,” Ellison said. “She’s got her team and I got mine.
Ellison did not have much more to say about the fact that both New Mission and Burke Struggled to put away their opponents.
“It ain’t got nothing to do with me,” she said. “She’s doing her thing and I’m doing mine.”
Latin Academy started the final quarter against New Mission on a 7-2 run to make the score, 50-46, with 1:43 to play. But after freshman guard Fiona Sugrue missed her second straight runner in the lane, Kelley rebounded the ball and was eventually fouled. She split a pair of free throws to go up five with 42.1 seconds left.
Sugrue scored her 22nd point — a team high — a few seconds later but Kelley got the final bucket on another free throw with 15.3 left.
Freshman forward Donnaizha Fountain scored 15 points for New Mission while junior guard Davetta Kenner added 18 for Latin Academy (14-7).
“Both teams played good defense,” Latin Academy coach William Dever said. “I would say that’s the best defense we played all year, holding New Mission to 52 points. We make our free throws and some missed shots and we’re right in the game.
“Both sides put in effort and a lot of heart. It was a good team effort.”
There was plenty of effort to go around in the first game as well.
Taking a one-point lead into the final quarter, Fenway (15-5) extended its advantage to three points before Burke went on a 7-0 run, including five points from Frederika Lawson, who finished with 16.
The run was ended when Fenway freshman forward Kaila Duarte (14 points) scored off an inbound play to make it 60-56.
Moments later Ellison hit the first of back-to-back 3-pointers, including the one that was so deep she was sent flying back to half court.
“My thing was fourth quarter,” Ellison said. “Gotta go all out ’cause I refuse to lose.”
Kyala Cox led Fenway with 20 points but in the end her coach Steve Drayton said Ellison was too hot to handle.
“Khadijah was Khadijah down at the end,” he said. “She hit NBA threes so it kind of hurt us. We kept clawing and clawing but she did a great job.”
Asked by a reporter about how she’ll maintain her sharp shooting on Friday against New Mission, Ellison said, “I told you, I’m not giving them a chance to go out.”