Dream Dies for Edison


| zbraziller@queenscourier.com |

Allan Thomas languished in the paint bent over, weeping uncontrollably. The spot on the floor the junior point guard chose to let out his emotions was quite appropriate - with the game on the line, he couldn’t get the ball to that area with the dribble-drive or pass.
Neither could any of his teammates.
Leading by nine after three quarters, No. 2 Edison collapsed against top-seeded Transit Tech’s tenacious press, and, in turn, dropped the PSAL Class A championship game at Hunter College, 52-46, Saturday afternoon.
“We just feel like we lost everything,” Thomas said.
“Allan took it real hard,” senior center Devin Brown added. “It really hurt him. It hurt me, too. My last year, I really wanted this - bad.”
Brown led Edison (27-7) with 15 points, Thomas had 12 and Stephon Hodges nine. Al Alexander, the game’s MVP, scored 15 for Transit Tech and Garfield Burchette chipped in with 14.
The Engineers - who won their first Queens title in February, knocking off perennial borough powers Campus Magnet and Cardozo in impressive fashion - were considered the favorite in the ‘A’ division to make it to Glens Falls, N.Y. for the state championship. They rallied from a 15-point hole in the semifinals to get a crack at their first city title. And with Brown controlling the paint, they looked well on their way to making school history.
After a sloppy first half, Coach John Ulmer Jr. directed them to slow it down. The move worked, enabling Edison to build a comfortable working margin. Only they couldn’t handle The Express’s pressure on-the-ball defense once they ratcheted up the intensity.
When Edison managed to break the press, they had trouble getting into their offense, taking ill-advised jumpers and turning the ball over. “It rattled us a little bit,” said Ulmer Jr. of the Brooklyn school’s stifling press. “There were a couple of times we called a play and it didn’t look like we were running it. We were panicking.”
A 14-5 Transit Tech (28-3) run to start the fateful final stanza put Edison behind for the first time since the opening half with 4:08 remaining. Thomas’s first basket of the second half, a follow of a Brown miss, only prolonged the inevitable. The Pioneers wouldn’t score again, save for a Thomas jumper in the waning seconds.
“I guess we were tired,” Brown said. “We couldn’t pull out the energy we needed.”
Transit Tech poured in the next eight points, with Burchette getting to the rim for a pair of baskets. Edison, meanwhile, turned the ball over twice, Brown had a defensive rebound ripped away and Thomas was whistled for a charge.
“They stepped up big time,” Ulmer Jr. said. “I got to take my hat off to Transit Tech.”
Shockingly, it was the usually reliable backcourt of Thomas and Hodges that failed to make plays in crunch time. The duo was eaten alive by The Express’s guards, beaten for penetration and unable to get in the lane.
“We didn’t do anything special,” Burchette said. “We just played hard defense. After we forced turnovers, he (Thomas) starting rushing the ball, committing more turnovers.”
The stifling defense got to Thomas, who after scoring six early points, managed just two until midway through the final quarter. The star of the borough playoffs never showed up in his biggest test yet. “I could’ve done more,” he admitted. “But I couldn’t do everything. I’m not Superman.”
Asked about next year’s prospects, he rattled off the names of his talented returning teammates. He seemed ready for next winter even before the arrival of spring. “We should be pretty good this year,” he said.
Thomas was referring to next season, but with the way this one ended up, who could blame him for looking ahead.