The crowd erupted in the third quarter as Brighton guard Malik James’s nifty crossover sent another Danvers defender onto the floor, followed by a pull-up jumper.
It was the play of James and fellow junior Nick Simpson in the second half that led the No. 11 Bengals over the undefeated and No. 1-ranked Falcons. The Bengals trailed at the half, 35-28, but an 18-4 run led by James in the third quarter toppled the Falcons, 74-66, in the Comcast Classic at Babson College Sunday night.
“I realized I wasn’t penetrating, I wasn’t getting my team assists or carrying them on my back [in the first half],” said James, who finished with 22 points and 11 assists.
James said coach Hugh Coleman emphasized defense at halftime. The full-court press carried over into Danvers turnovers and fast-break layups for Brighton in the second half.
“At halftime, I told the team I wanted us to pick up our defensive intensity,” Coleman said. “I said our defense would create our offense. We needed to get a few steals and get layups to get us going a little bit.”
The Falcons dropped into a zone the entire game, which stifled Brighton at first. Coleman also talked about the offense at halftime.
“We tried to stretch their zone out,” Coleman said. “We got some good ballhandlers, so we tried to penetrate a little bit, kick, and get open shots and open layups. It worked to our advantage tonight.”
Falcons senior forward Dan Connors scored a team-high 23 points, but he was the lone threat in the second half for Danvers. Coach John Walsh, who looked frustrated at the officiating throughout most of the game, gave credit to the Bengals for their second-half surge.
“We didn’t rebound [in the second half],” said Walsh, whose team drops to 18-1. “They did and they made shots.”
James had 16 points and eight assists in the second half.
“He has a talent when it comes to handling the ball and running the team, and he’s got the ability to get by people and create a lot of havoc in the paint,” said Coleman.
Simpson’s 14 second-half points made him the Bengals’ high-scorer with 23, but James created most of the scoring opportunities.
“We saw they didn’t have, no disrespect, too many good guards to handle the ball,” said James. “Our [press] led to more fast breaks.’’
The Bengals’ 46 points in the second half helped improve their record to 13-5. They take on No. 6 BC High in the championship game Monday at 6:30 p.m.
The Eagles defeated Newton North earlier, 53-36. Their three captains, seniors Jameilen Jones, Charles Collins and Pete Timmins combined for 41 points.
IAABO Board 130 Classic — Eric Rosario scored 37 points to lead Lynn English past Springfield Central, 81-73, in the semifinals. Lynn English will face St. John’s Prep in the title game Monday. Prep beat Central Catholic, 64-62.
Arlington 64, Arlington Catholic 47 — Senior Tyler Sullivan led the Spy Ponders with 18 points, 6 steals, and 6 assists.
O'Bryant 61, Malden 58— Junior Joseph Farrell scored 19 points and had 11 rebounds for the Tigers (12-7).
Matignon 56, Shawsheen 53 — Senior guard Pat Lane scored 18 points for the Warriors (13-6).
Waltham 62, Newton South 47 — Mike Gelineau led the No. 19 Hawks (16-4) with 21 points and Junior Cherry had 16 points and five assists.
Pope John 74, Maimonides 64 — The Tigers (14-5) were led by Giovanni Ferraris (26 points, 16 rebounds) and Kahneil Bruce (19 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists).
Braintree 68, Brockton 53 — Ashely Russel (27 points, 10 rebounds) and Alyssa Klotzbeecher (14 points) led the Wamps over the Boxers.
Shawsheen 77, Greater Lawrence 54 — Senior Stephanie Champoux netted 15 points for the Rams (14-2).
Somerville 64, Peabody 46 — Senior Indira Evora led the Highlanders with 33 points.
Reading 64, Natick 40 — Senior Olivia Healy had 30 points and 11 rebounds and junior Bridget Clements added 14 points for the Rockets.
Westford 72, Andover 61 — Sam Hyslip led the Grey Ghosts with 28 points and Hannah Hackley and Christina Nowak both scored 20.
Lynn English 63, Masconomet 57 — Junior guard Deidra Newson scored 22 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Her 3-pointer with 15 seconds left sealed the victory for the Bulldogs (19-2).
Boston Latin 4, Concord-Carlisle 2 — Greg Penella had three goals and Ryan Dougherty added a goal and two assists for the Wolfpack, who qualified for postseason play.
Ursuline 3, Braintree 1 — Sophomore Meghan Lawler had two goals and an assist for the Bears.