CHARLESTOWN — With Burke down a pair of starters and its head coach due to illness, Charlestown still needed all 32 minutes to put away a feisty program at home last night.
A huge first half for a freshman and a strong close by a sophomore was more than enough for the Townies to hold off the visiting Bulldogs 84-68 on Thursday in a Boston City League South showdown.
“We worked hard and we knew it was going to be a good game,” said Charlestown coach Hugh Coleman. “We knew it was going to be a challenge. (Burke) is a great team. They are the defending city champs, so we knew what to expect. They actually had a couple people down, including their point guard and coach. I already knew it was going to be a battle, but going to Burke will be another dogfight.”
Freshman Jaylen Hunter-Coleman stepped up early with 11 of his first-half 17 points in the first quarter as Charlestown (7-1) went up 21-13 after one. The Townies were up 41-30 at the half.
“(Hunter-Coleman) is a hard worker,” Coleman said. “He works really hard in the offseason. He’s an underdog. Everything is fuel for him. He’s one of the best kids you will ever meet. His work ethic has paid off.”
Hunter-Coleman finished with a game-high 33 points while going 11-of-14 from the charity stripe.
In the third, Charlestown kept up the offensive pressure and were up 57-40 after an Alex Wilkins triple. Burke (7-1) started to chip away at that point and a Matt Drayton (23 points) triple cut the deficit down to 59-52 with two minutes to go in the frame. The Townies led 62-54 after three.
With the Bulldogs fighting back, sophomore Jaylin Crawford-Williams slammed home a couple dunks to push the lead back to 70-58. Burke made it a 72-66 contest with 3:30 left before a pair of free throws from Crawford-Williams made it 76-66 with 2:34 remaining.
Crawford-Williams finished with 16 points, 13 boards, five blocks and five assists and was a huge part on both ends of the floor all evening.
“(Crawford-Williams) has put in a lot of hard work,” said Coleman. “He has come a long way from a few years ago. He’s a very important piece of what we are trying to do.”
The teams will meet again Feb. 6.
“I look forward to meeting them again,” Coleman said about the rematch in less than a month. “They are a good team. In order to get ready for the (city tournament) as well as states, you need to play challenging teams. (Burke) is the defending champ until someone else wins the crown.”