Charlestown boys basketball team captures Division 3 state championship

From an opening semi-alley-oop play between stars Jaylen Hunter-Coleman and Jaylin Williams-Crawford to the late stages of a dominating overall performance, Saturday’s victory in the MIAA Division 3 state final was a crowning and historic achievement for Coach Hugh Coleman, his staff, and the 2023-24 Charlestown High School boys basketball team.

Already reigning as the Boston city champion, the Charlestown contingent wanted to affirm its season-long No. 1 ranking in the division. Charlestown won five tournament games to capture the Division 3 state title, capping it with an impressive 60-41 victory over Old Rochester Saturday at Tsongas Center in Lowell.

The aforementioned duo of cousins Williams-Crawford and Hunter-Coleman truly led the way all day. Williams-Crawford, a talented 6-foot-6-junior forward and 1,000-point career scorer, was immense with 26 points 13 rebounds, and six steals. Hunter-Coleman, the confident 6-foot point guard with dynamic ballhandling skills, had 18 points, seven rebounds, and five assists. The son of the head coach, Jaylen, also a 1,000-point career scorer, pushed the basketball downcourt quickly to create excellent opportunities for himself and his teammates.

The other members of the Charlestown starting five, seniors Jordany Mak (3-point field goal), Damante Vanheyningen (10 points), and Trevari Andrews (two points), brought their ‘A’ game to the court all season and into the playoffs. Junior Francis Nelson (two points) also contributed well in the championship game. Junior Dewayne Cannon-Lewis was credited by Hugh Coleman for “his phenomenal defense” against Old Rochester.

The Charlestown coaches devised an effective game plan that their players carried out to perfection. The Charlestown defense forced the Old Rochester guards to go left and executed their full-court press that led to several turnovers. The Townies also controlled the defensive glass, allowing Hunter-Coleman to get out into the open court and generate easy baskets.

 “Our big thing is to get the ball off of a defensive rebound and try to beat the other team up the court before they can set up their defense,” said Coleman.

Coleman, who had tears of joy in his eyes during his post-game interview with reporters, reflected on the state championship season during an interview Monday at the high school.

“It feels really amazing to be at this point at this moment in time,” said Hugh Coleman, who starred at Charlestown High (1993-97) before going on to play basketball and graduate from Bowdoin College. “When I went off to college, my brother [Derek Coleman] and Coach [Jack] O’Brien won four consecutive state championships, and during that time, the community really rallied around the team. So we really transcended and broke barriers in this community through the game of basketball, so this is full circle.”

Coleman said he and his players were appreciative of the police escort once the team bus reached Sullivan Square on the trip back from Lowell. 

“The police escort was so phenomenal,” said Coleman. “They guided us from Sullivan, through Main Street, up Bunker Hill, and back up Medford. The community came out for us. We had more than 200 people meet us on the gym steps. It was a beautiful, beautiful day.”

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