A year ago Fenway junior guard Tajanay Veiga-Lee and her teammates had to sit and watch as O'Bryant High School accepted their championship trophies and celebrated in front of the crowd at Madison Park High School. This year, Veiga-Lee and the Panthers made sure they wouldn't have to repeat that memory.
Fenway (15-3) cruised to a 57-43 victory over O'Bryant (12-3) behind 23 points and six rebounds from Veiga-Lee who was named the Boston City League Tournament MVP. For the Panthers it was the team's 13th win in 14 games, with every win coming by at least 10 points.
“I knew we had to come out and play hard. Last year we lost to them and this year we didn’t want to lose so we just kept going and going and we won,” said Veiga-Lee. “ It just felt great to win if you ask me."
With almost all the key players returning from a season ago, the two main factors that boosted Fenway were freshmen forward Jalissa Ross and new head coach John Rice.
Ross, a player that Rice describes as a top-five freshmen in the state, finished with eight points and 11 rebounds and helped key an early Fenway run. Fenway jumped out to a 7-0 lead and held a 10-1 advantage halfway through the first quarter, a year after a slow first quarter limited their ability to get back into the game against O'Bryant.
After winning double-digit city titles at Jeremiah Burke high school, Rice earned his first title at Fenway by implementing his new system. Instead of focusing on the 3-point shot, Rice pushes the Panthers to attack the basket and play pressure defense.
“We come to play every night, who ever has us is going to have a tough game, we come to play and we like to play good competition and we enjoy it so we look forward to it,” Rice said. “We had a good group coming in and we just changed up our system and we put defense first.”
It was just the first Boston City League loss for O'Bryant High School who finished 12-1 to win the Boston South Division. The Lady Tigers struggled to even mount a comeback after falling behind 27-11 at halftime because of frequent foul trouble and too many turnovers.