As two of the top shooters in the Boston City League, brothers Abubakar and Abdulahi Aden are both capable of putting on a show.
Abubakar, a senior at New Mission, and Abdulahi, a junior at Latin Academy, will go toe-to-toe at Madison Park when their teams face off in the BCL semifinals at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday. While they’ve been rooting for each other throughout their high school careers, there will be no quarter given between siblings, especially with a trip to Thursday’s final on the line.
“I’m not going to take it easy on him because it’s my brother,” said Abubakar, who averages 22 points and nearly four 3-pointers per game. “It’s going to be a good matchup. I always used to beat him [when we were younger], but now I think it’s not going to be that easy. I haven’t played him since he got better, so we’re going to have to see.”
A shifty 5-foot-10-inch lefthander with unlimited range, Abubakar broke out last season and helped the Titans to the Division 2 South finals with 20 points and six 3-pointers in a 79-70 overtime win over Whitman-Hanson.
Inspired by his brother’s hot streak, the righthanded Abdulahi worked relentlessly to refine his game this offseason, earning a rotation spot with Latin Academy (17-3, 6-1 BCL North). As a sophomore, his Dragons fell to the Titans twice, but now the junior is ready to make his mark at Madison Park.
“I’ve played in a lot of big games, but not at that level,” Abdulahi said of the environment in the BCL semifinals. “It’s going to be fun. We always played against each other growing up and I think we’re going to challenge [New Mission]. This year, we’ll put up more of a fight.”
When they were young kids growing up in Roxbury’s Mission Park, the Aden brothers weren’t necessarily slated to become hoopers. Their father, Mohamed Koreye, only played soccer and couldn’t even make a jump shot, according to Abdulahi.
So, at the ages of 6 and 5, the brothers turned to their uncle, Said Ahmed, to learn America’s beloved game.
Both Ahmed and Koreye emigrated from Somalia in the 1990s to escape civil war. Ahmed was a track star at Boston English and Arkansas, where he became a four-time All-American and two-time national champion. After returning to Boston in 2009, he founded United Somali Youth, a nonprofit designed to educate and empower refugee and immigrant youth in the inner city.
It was around that time that Ahmed, who also lived in Mission Park, began coaching his nephews. Through private workouts and organized tournaments with the Somali Youth team, the Aden brothers honed their basketball skills.
Soon they couldn’t get enough of basketball, spending almost all of their free time battling against each other on the court at the nearby Tobin Community Center or at local parks.
“We got the love for the game after that,” Abubakar said of those early training sessions. “Ever since I started playing, my little brother started following me. That’s why I’m happy to see him doing good right now.”
The brothers played together sporadically during their middle school years at Roxbury Prep, then parted ways when Abdulahi passed an exam to get into Latin Academy. Both are now honors students at their respective schools, and hope someday to play together in college.
“To see where [Abdulahi] was as a ninth grader to where he is now, it’s amazing,” said Latin Academy 14-year-coach Dan Bunker . “That’s due to all the hard work he put in the offseason. He’s a community center kid; one of those kids [who] lives at the [Tobin]. That group of kids, they really push each other and the community is behind them.”
While he often comes off the bench, Abdulahi averages a team-high 13.7 points along with three assists and three steals per game. The 5-foot-9 guard is just as lethal from long range as his brother, a skill they both perfected with deep shooting contests at the community center.
“We have pretty similar games,” Abdulahi said of his older brother. “I look to up to him. His mind-set, his playing style, how he shoots, it’s all about muscle memory. Just shoot it.”
By defeating South Boston, 91-49, in a BCL quarterfinal matchup Friday, Latin Academy is making its first BCL semifinals appearance since Bunker was a senior on the 1998 team that eventually fell to St. Bernard’s in the state final.
His program is rising thanks to the improvement of Abdulahi, junior point guard Mason Lawson, Somalian senior Mohamud Ali, and others. And Bunker hopes that the Aden family will help that rise continue. Freshman guard Osman Aden, 15, is currently on Latin’s junior varsity squad, and younger brothers Omar, 11, and Ali, 8, could potentially follow suit.
New Mission (14-6, 7-1 BCL South), a perennial contender with two BCL titles and six finals appearances this decade, represents a formidable challenge, but the tale of the tape is even when it comes to Wednesday’s bout.
“It’s going to be mano a mano and brother vs. brother,” quipped New Mission coach Malcolm Smith. “So there might be a few broken possessions and a few sets I call out might get ignored. We’ve been to Madison three straight years and it’s always exciting. We’ll see what happens.”
■ Seedings and pairings for the North, South, and Central sectional brackets will be determined Friday at MIAA headquarters in Franklin. Seedings for the West sectional will be determined Saturday. The tournament begins Monday, Feb. 24 with preliminary-round games and sectionals will last through March 7.
■ Franklin senior Chris Edgehill became the program’s all-time scoring leader Tuesday with 16 points in a 59-52 win at Oliver Ames, breaking the previous mark set by Matt Palazini (1,306). “[Edgehill’s] been a four-year starter, and right from the beginning, helped us to two state finals and two sectional championships,” Franklin coach C.J. Neely said. “He can put the ball in the hoop a lot of different ways.”
■ Westwood rides a 16-game win streak into Monday’s tournament final against Braintree and has clinched the Tri-Valley League title in consecutive years for the first time in program history. “A lot of it is just leadership,” said Westwood coach Steve St. Martin . “We have a great group of guys that are committed.We have a lot back from last year, were able to add a couple of pieces, and we’ve been fortunate too. All of our health issues were early and we’ve had a couple of balls bounce the right way for us.”
■ Everett clinched the Greater Boston League title after moving back to the conference this year from the Northeastern Conference.
■ For the second time this season, a nonconference opponent defeated Catholic Conference power Catholic Memorial, and will get no credit. Belmont and Newton South both excluded their contests against CM this month, thus nullifying the win with regards to tournament seeding. Exclusion games should cease to exist under re-alignment in 2021.
Games to watch
Tuesday, Natick at Newton South, 5:30 p.m. — Arguably two of the most surprising contenders this season, both the Redhawks and Lions have a list of impressive wins. How will they fare against each other?
Tuesday, Brockton at Whitman-Hanson, 6:30 p.m. — The Roundball Classic at Whitman-Hanson features two Top 10 teams that both aim to make a deep run in their respective state tournament brackets. The victor faces either Mansfield or Needham the following night.
Wednesday, Beverly at Newburyport, 7 p.m. — The host Clippers are red hot with four of their last five wins by double figures, but the Panthers are a strong nonconference opponent.
Wednesday, Amesbury at Austin Prep, 7 p.m. – Austin Prep has already wrapped up its first Central Catholic League Small title in over a decade, but will look for one more signature win before heading into the D4 North state tournament.
Thursday, Dracut at BC High, 3 p.m. – Not satisfied with their spirited run to the state semifinals last season, the Middies created an aggressive nonconference schedule that culminates with a test at Catholic Conference co-champion BC High.
Nate Weitzer can be reached at email@example.com.