Healing Begins After Tragic Setbacks With Old Pioneer Classic Basketball Showcase


Al McClain (left) poses for a photo with a former New Mission player after the Alumni Pioneers’ Classic Championship game, a weekend basketball tournament for Boston-area alumni .Nathan Klima for The Boston Globe / The Boston Globe

The Alumni Pioneers’ Classic pitted eight alumni teams (Brighton, O’Bryant, New Mission, Boston Latin Academy, Charlestown, Boston English, East Boston and Madison Park) in a two-day tournament at the Salvation Army Kroc Center in Dorchester. Former players aged 25 and over were eligible to compete. He rekindled old rivalries and represented a congregation of some of the city’s top basketball talent.

“All the pioneers who are here?” I called them on the phone myself, which is a great feeling, ”said McClain.

McClain is a household name. The former Hyde Park High star is second all-time in points and assists at the University of New Hampshire and was selected in the fifth round of the 1984 Draft by the Houston Rockets. Today he hosts tournaments through Battle New England, which hosted the event.

This weekend brought together many influencers from the Boston basketball community. The announcement of the games was Greg Canzater, founder of the popular SISRun League for young players. Tony Richards, who runs Boston’s No Ball, No Ball mentoring program for children, stopped to observe.

Nora Baston, superintendent of the Boston Police Department’s Office of Community Engagement, eagerly watched and walked backstage, filming the action on her phone.

“It’s a great way for people to see us, get to know us and build relationships,” said Baston, a former UMass Lowell player. “It’s the celebration of a great community through basketball.”

The New Mission alumni beat the East Boston alumni, 52-51, in the Classic Old Pioneer Championship.
The New Mission alumni beat the East Boston alumni, 52-51, in the Classic Old Pioneer Championship.Nathan Klima for The Boston Globe / The Boston Globe

New Mission ultimately won the championship game, 52-51, fending off several charges from East Boston. Coach Cory McCarthy, who won five state titles in his 14-year career with the school, has found a roster of former players including Kordell Harris, 26, a Brighton resident.

“[The tournament] feels like the ultimate answer to all the things that our community has missed, ”said McCarthy.

“It’s so great to be back with my guys, my brothers, again,” added Harris. “It’s like we’ve never wasted time.

While dealing with losses takes time, McClain is hopeful events like these can serve as a reminder to the city they’ve relied on and basketball.

“We have lost giants. They are giants, and I think everyone is doing their own thing, ”he said.


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