Powered by Skittles, Red Hawks taste the Queens Borough Championship


| lguerre@queenscourier.com |

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre
THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

High School for Construction defeated Benjamin Cardozo to capture the Queens Borough Championship.

At the end of the first half of the PSAL Queens Borough basketball tournament finals on Sunday, the Benjamin Cardozo boys basketball team was firmly leading High School for Construction, 36-26.

It was time for Construction’s first-year head coach, Cory Semper, to unleash his team’s secret weapon: a giant bag of Skittles.

Popularized by the Super Bowl XLVIII Champion Seattle Seahawks’ running back Marshawn Lynch as “power pellets,” the bite-size, multi-color candy is slowly becoming known as a way to recharge athletes.

“The Seattle Seahawks did it, so I said ‘you know what it might work’,” Semper said.

And the Skittles did not fail. The power of the rainbow gave Construction Red Hawks the strength they needed to play more aggressively, and outscore their conference rivals Cardozo in the second half, on route to a 65-62 win.

Red Hawks (14-2, 3-0 playoffs) senior guard Marlon Alcindor led the way with 25 points, including 10 of 13 from the free throw line. The Skittles were especially kind to junior Justin Wright-Foreman, who scored 14 of his 23 points in the third quarter alone.

So who knew Skittles could be such a powerful weapon? Other than Lynch’s mother, who originally started feeding him “power pellets,” apparently it was Semper’s older brother’s suggestion.

Semper refused to try the Skittles for a long time, but finally gave in during the first playoff game of the Queens Borough tournament against Francis Lewis to fix the team’s weak third quarter problem.

The second seeded Red Hawks were highly favored to win that game, so the Skittles would have been hard to test. But having dropped two games already against the Judges (16-0, 2-1 playoffs) in the regular season, it was a perfect experiment in the finals.

After the  Skittles boost, Construction outscored Cardozo 39-26 in the second half. The Red Hawks controlled the flow of the game by taking less outside shots and charging to the basket to score in the paint and get to the free throw line. They quickly jumped to a 19-9 run to start the third quarter and tie the game, 45-45, and battled from there for the win.

“We just had the strategy of coming in and playing hard,” Wright-Foreman said. “When we were down 10 in the third quarter it was 0-0 to us.”

The win marks Semper’s second Queens Borough title in as many years, with two different schools. Now the Red Hawks are setting their sights on the city title, and Semper said they are bringing a bag of skittles with them.

 

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