By Zolan Kanno-Youngs, BPSsports Correspondent
CHARLESTOWN — After a loss to Madison Park in the final game of the regular season cost them a trip to the City Championships, Charlestown High blew out the Andover on Thursday night in the first round of the MIAA Division 1 North boys’ basketball tournament.
“After we didn’t make the cities, the guys came in the gym, worked hard over vacation break and got back on track to winning again,” Charlestown coach Edson Cardoso said after the 72-54 victory.
Charlestown will travel to East Boston at 1 p.m. on Saturday for a second round matchup against the Jets, who beat Waltham 72-64 in the first round.
On Thursday, Cardoso got his spark from sixth man sophomore Taris Wilson, whose second-half scoring output sealed the win for the Townies. Wilson ended the game with 19 points. Senior Rony Fernandez and junior Tyrese Hoxter also performed well, contributing 13 points apiece.
Charlestown’s offense was on fire in the first half when Fernandez and senior Tyrik Jackson’s pick and roll play caused the Andover defense havoc. A nice pass by Fernandez to Jackson, leading to a dunk over freshmen Connor Merinder set the tone early for the Townies.
The first half lead grew to as much as 15 points for Charlestown until a wave of three pointers from Andover and missed free throws by the Townies allowed the Golden Warriors to end the half on a 10-1 run, putting Andover down by just six, 31-25.
From there, it was all Charlestown. A combination of great zone defense and efficient shooting didn’t give Andover a chance in the second half.
“I told [the team] that we would need to extend on [Chris Dunn]. He’s their best shooter, we had to get a hand out and box out the big guys. We moved very well on our defensive rotations,” Cardoso said.
One of the main participants in the defensive surge was senior Omar Orriols, recording nine rebounds, as well as a pair of three pointers that helped extend the lead in the third quarter. Great shooting by Wilson, including two thunderous dunks over Andover defenders, would push the lead to as much as 20 in the fourth quarter.
“I just wanted to bring hard work,” Wilson said. “We worked so hard in practice. I felt like throughout the season, I’ve been slacking on my defense and my offensive abilities so I just wanted to go out there and give my team all that I can give.”
Cardoso would continue to emphasize the motivation from not making Cities in that loss to Madison Park.
“A lot of motivation,” he said. “I thought that when we played BC High and Brockton over the Comcast tournament our confidence also went back up and we’re just going to play hard each game and leave it on the court.”
Zolan Kanno-Youngs is a freshman at Northeastern University who does color commentating and sideline reporting at the NU home basketball games.