Latin Academy didn’t expect to compete in Tuesday’s Boston City League championships. But with Fenway’s three forfeits for using an ineligible player, which dropped the Panthers from first place to third in the North division, Fenway’s loss is Latin’s Academy’s gain.
While the Dragons have a chance to pursue a league championship, second-year coach Emily Coleman said the opportunity is “bittersweet’’ because of the circumstances.
“It’s fortunate that we made it, and I am not going to take anything away from the girls because regardless of Fenway’s forfeits, we still had to win the other games that we had to win in order to be in the situation that we’re in to seize this opportunity,” Coleman said.
“We still had to play in these games and that in itself is an accomplishment.”
In Tuesday’s first semifinal at Madison Park, South Boston will play O’Bryant at 4 p.m. At 5:30, Latin Academy will play New Mission. The title game is Thursday at 5 p.m.
Latin Academy’s big advantage is their speedy backcourt. The Dragons leading scorer is sophomore point guard Julia Rosario (12 points per game) and along with senior guard Ayjah Willis will look to push the ball up the court on every possession, to prohibit their opponents from setting up their defense in order to find their teammates for easy baskets.
The squad enters each game with the “defense brings offense” mentality, and uses their speed and versatility to their advantage at both ends of the court.
Latin Academy’s trademark is its suffocating defense. The team’s tight, tenacious defense forces turnovers and allows the guards to advance the ball quickly.
The Dragons front court is not overpowering, but they have size. Center Catherine Loney, Virginia Mccaughey, and Abigail Ohemeng, try to control the paint by being active on the boards. The trio may be more finesse than power, however, their versatility allows them to connect on shots traditional bigs may struggle with.
“They’re not one to rip down a basket, but they have type plays where they will shoot a hook shot or a nice up and under,” Coleman said. “It doesn’t come off as aggressive but they still can get it done.”
Coleman will preach one thing to her team: play hard.
“If they play hard and they fight, it’s going to be a hard-fought game. If we don’t play to our potential and the other defense takes advantage, then it’s going to be a blowout,” Coleman said. “If they play the type of defense I know they can play, then it’s going to come down to the wire.”