Tag Archives: Basketball

Knicks legend John Starks scores with LeFrak City library visit


| svrattos@queenscourier.com

Photos by Stephen Vrattos

Legendary Knicks shooting guard John Starks visited the Queens Library at LeFrak City on Tuesday as part of the 9th annual “Knicks Read to Achieve” summer reading program, sponsored by Optimum Community and Madison Square Garden.

Joining the venerable NBA superstar, who turned 50 the day before, was Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland.

Targeted to children ages 6 to 12, “Knicks Read to Achieve” consists of a series of reading events at libraries, camps and community centers throughout the New York/New Jersey metro areas. The initiative encourages reading through the use of incentives and is highlighted by read-aloud events with Knicks alumni and elected officials at select locations.

Despite the morning’s torrential downpour, parents and children of all ages filled the community room of the library to meet the Knicks all-time leader in three point field goals; read with him and the councilwoman; pick up some free goodies, such as a children’s book, book bag and T-shirt; participate in an interactive quiz and try to their luck at winning a pair of tickets to an upcoming New York Liberty basketball game.

Starks proved he was as adept at playing solo as he was with a team, when Councilwoman Ferreras-Copeland was delayed. He spoke with the kids and engaged in some friendly banter, which helped prevent the youngsters from getting fidgety and disruptive. He asked the children what sports they liked, what books they’ve read and what they enjoyed doing in the summer.

Basketball was a clear favorite to the former question. To the second, a child spoke of a story she’d read, about a little girl, like herself, who started baking cupcakes as a means of combatting the bullying she was getting at school, to which Starks admitted, he too was bullied as a kid. When one of the young audience members mentioned swimming as a favorite summer pastime, the Knicks alumnus asked if anyone had seen “Jaws.” “It kept me out of the water,” he revealed.

Starks also introduced “Salt in His Shoes,” the book he would to read with the kids, of which every child received a free copy when they arrived. Written by Deloris Jordan, mother of NBA superstar Michael Jordan, the picture book tells the story of young Michael’s early hardship at playing neighborhood basketball against kids much taller than himself, and how fierce determination and hard work, along with a little motherly advice, led him to overcome the odds and succeed.

“We’re here to talk about the greatest basketball player ever,” Starks said. “Who do you think that is?” Upon hearing his own name yelled out, Starks gave a hearty laugh. “Yeah, it was me,” he teasingly said, before humbling admitting it wasn’t he.

No mention was made by the Knicks great of the famous “dunk” play on Michael Jordan during the 1993 Eastern Conference finals against the Chicago Bulls, although one can’t help but wonder if the moment, one of the most famous plays in Knicks history and one of the rare few wherein Jordan was bested by another, was in the back of Starks’ mind during the above exchange.

“Everyone in this room is important,” Ferreras-Copeland said upon her arrival, before telling parents and children alike that New York City spends 78 billion dollars a year on education and kids should “use the library to get smart. We believe in you.” The councilwoman touted the importance and wonder of reading. “You can travel anywhere in the world; meet anyone from another country in a single day just by reading a book.”

Starks began reading “Salt in His Shoes,” quickly ceding the duties to Ferreras-Copeland, who soon turned the reading over to volunteers from the audience.

“My mother pushed me to go to the library and read,” Starks revealed. “And my grandmother read the Bible to us.” The former NBA superstar named “Peter Pan” as his favorite book growing up. “I like fantasy,” he said. “I like the idea of being able to fly!”


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Kids learn basketball fundamentals at Maspeth High School summer camp


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photos by Anthony Giudice

Maspeth High School wrapped up its second summer basketball camp, where local middle school students came together to learn the fundamentals of basketball, play some games and, most importantly, have fun.

The one-week camp session, which ended on Friday, was led by Maspeth High School’s boys varsity basketball team head coach Anastasia Bitis, who helped lead the Argonauts to an undefeated record last year and a city championship.

Thirty area middle school students attended this year’s camp at Maspeth High School. Boys and girls of all levels got the chance to hone their skills, learn new ones and play plenty of basketball games.

“The kids love it,” Bitis said. “We had an extensive waiting list this year. We teach the kids the fundamentals and how to work together with team work.”

“The main thing we want the kids to learn is to work hard and to work with each other,” she continued. “It’s important for the more skilled players to help make the others better. The goal is for the kids to have fun overall, to grow their love of the game and to stay fit.”

Bitis explained that during the one-week camp the students are trained in several drills and exercises including conditioning skills, half-court and full-court drills, jump shooting, layups and dribbling skills.

“The kids get to learn a little bit of everything,” Bitis said. “And then they get to incorporate what they’ve learned into the game situations.”

After skills training, the kids are broken up into teams where they play games against each other in one-on-one, three-on-three and five-on-five style games. Bitis invited players from the Argonauts to join as counselors, where they help teach the kids and act as coaches for the teams.

“When coach Bitis asked me to come back and be a counselor this year, I said I would love to do it,” said Damian Piszczatowki, former player on the Argonauts who graduated this year and will be attending John Jay College next year. “I really enjoy it. I came back this year because I love working with the kids, teaching them and helping them grow. It’s fun to interact with them and you get the opportunity to play like a kid again.”

“It’s been a great experience,” said Christian Ramirez, who is entering his senior year at Maspeth High School. “As someone who started playing basketball at an older age, it’s nice to see them playing the game at a young age. One of my favorite things about the camp is the coaching. Seeing it from the coach’s perspective is different.”

The kids were excited to get the chance to learn new skills and play some basketball.

“I think the camp is really good,” said Jesse Morales, 13, who is entering eighth grade at St. Adalbert School in September. “It’s really fun and we are learning a lot. We get to learn exercises, run around, practice dribbling, the basics and how to perfect them.”

“I like the councilors. They’re fun,” said Ashley Petrasovic, 12, who is going into the eighth grade at P.S. 128. “The people here make you learn a lot of new stuff. I like the three-on-three and five-on-five games we play.”

As the camp came to a close, certificates and special awards were handed out to the players.

“We have the MVP award, the most improved player award, the best defensive player award and the coach’s award,” Bitis said. “We also have a skills competition and the winner gets a free T-shirt.”


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Argonauts finish second in NY State Federation Tournament


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy Maspeth High School

After winning the B Division City Championship in the Public School Athletic League (PSAL), the Maspeth High School boys varsity basketball team followed up that performance with a second-place showing in the New York State Federation Class B Tournament.

In their first tournament game, Maspeth faced off against a tough Dwight School Lions team in the SEFCU Arena at the University of Albany.

The Argonauts didn’t get off to a promising start, falling behind 10-2 in the opening minutes. At the beginning of the second quarter, Maspeth put together a 10-2 run to tie the game at 12. The Lions quickly took back control of the game, scoring 18 points in just over four minutes. Dwight held a commanding 35-19 lead heading into the half.

The Argonauts had a tough task ahead of them but were more than up for the challenge. They chipped away at Dwight’s lead during the third and fourth quarters and with two minutes remaining in the game, the Argonauts trailed by only one point, 47-46.

Maspeth’s Paolo Tamer hit a layup with 1:30 left, giving the Argonauts a 48-47 lead. Matthew Nickel followed that up with a 3-pointer, putting Maspeth up 51-47.

Dwight’s Dajuan Piper then hit a layup and was fouled. He scored the free throw and brought the Lions to within one point of the Argonauts with 30 seconds remaining in the game.

Maspeth missed two free throws, giving the Lions one final chance, but Dwight missed a short jumper at the buzzer to cement the Argonauts’ comeback victory, 51-50, sending them to the finals of the tournament.

In the finals, Maspeth faced off against Park School, although their fate would not be the same.

The Park School Pioneers jumped all over the Argonauts from the tip off, leading 18-10 after the first and 35-24 at the half. The Pioneers put together a 15-0 run during the third quarter and led 50-29 heading into the fourth quarter.

The game ended with the Pioneers victorious, 71-50, dashing the Argonauts’ dreams of a state championship.

“It was a tough game for us as the five starters on that team were all over 6 foot 2 inches,” Maspeth coach Anastasia Bitis said. “Our team never gave up even after being down by 20-plus points.”

The Argonauts are looking forward to next year to defend their PSAL title and possibly bringing home the state championship.

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Maspeth High School basketball makes the finals


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo: Courtesy Maspeth High School

The Maspeth High School Argonauts boys varsity basketball team continued its roll in the Public School Athletic League (PSAL) B-division championship tournament by defeating South Bronx High School on Sunday, March 15, at Queens College by a score of 71-64, advancing to the tournament finals.

The game saw the Argonauts jump out to an early lead, taking a 33-27 score into halftime. South Bronx battled their way back in the second half, scoring 29 points and knotting the game up at 56-56 after regulation. In overtime, the Argonauts dominated, outscoring South Bronx 15-8 to come out victorious.

Senior Paolo Tamer lead the Argonauts with a double-double, dropping 26 points and pulling down 10 rebounds. Junior Matthew Nickel added 18 points of his own to help Maspeth High School remain undefeated on the season.

The Argonauts will face off against Frederick Douglas Academy III on Saturday, March 21, in the championship game at Baruch College’s main gym at 1 p.m.

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Commodores boys basketball playing catch-up


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Bayside’s Ryniek Holloway steps up to the foul line

BY LARRY FLEISHER

It’s approaching 5 p.m. on Dec. 18, and Bayside is minutes away from facing off against Cardozo. Students line up in the small entrance to the school near Corporal Kennedy Street in anticipation of a big game and upon entering the tiny gym, they’re greeted with blaring music, creating the feel of a college environment.

The noisy atmosphere continues as Bayside scores the first six points, takes leads of 9-3 and leads for most of the first quarter. It stays loud as Bayside stays close with the Judges and trails by six at halftime, but then the noise dims as Cardozo scores the first 12 points of the second half and leads by 24 going into the fourth quarter.

Eventually Cardozo went onto an 88-45 victory that is a reflection of the defending champions’ ability to dominate and the inconsistencies of the Commodores. Bayside has been a playoff team the previous three seasons, has gone 32-10 in league play in that span and knocked off Cardozo on Dec. 18, 2012 — but this year the team remains a few steps below its neighborhood rival.

“Basically we’re knocking on the door for the top teams and we’re right there,” senior guard Ryniek Holloway said. “Just baby steps and we’re going to get to the point where we want to be at the end of the season. For now it’s just a learning experience.”
The team is learning about how to cope when opposing defenses take away Holloway and Daniel Hernandez as options. Through his first six games, Holloway averaged 21 points and seven assists while Hernandez averaged 19 points.

Against Cardozo, Holloway scored eight of Bayside’s first 20 points, and the rest of his points were scored when it was too late for a comeback. Hernandez finished well below his scoring average after getting 33 and eight rebounds on Dec. 16 against High School of Construction. It is also proof of second-year coach Steven Scharf’s description of his team, especially on a day when the Commodores can’t get another option going offensively.

“Developing,” Scharf said. “I’d say we’re a team that can be good one day, good one quarter, bad one quarter, good one possession and bad one possession.”

Through seven league games, Bayside is 4-3 and tied for second place with Queens High School of Teaching, which it faced on Dec. 22. So far Bayside has wins over Van Buren, Flushing, Edison and Beach Channel, and its fourth win came after facing an eight-point deficit through the first eight minutes. When they’re not playing games, the Commodores are fine-tuning their game with lengthy practices. The idea is that when January and February show up, some of those things that are stunting the development are over with.

“It’s only December,” Holloway said. “We’re still learning and we’re a young team. I just feel like by January, February, we’ll be ready. We have plenty of time to be ready and all those little things we’ll fix.”

And asked what those little things are, Holloway was quick to point them out.

“Just little things like free throws, rebounding and just the mental toughness and the mental aspect of the game. We have to make those big shots. Basically, we just have to make those clutch plays.” Scharf and the Commodores will visit Cardozo on Jan. 30. By then they will have played 18 games and Scharf is confident the showing will be better the next time his team takes on the defending champions.
“A way better performance than you saw today — guaranteed,” he said.

NBA teams and players are fond of talking about learning and developing when trying to learn the system of meshing with a new group and coach. While it’s not as complex as the Knicks attempting to learn the triangle or the Nets trying to learn the motion offense of new coach Lionel Hollins, it’s a similar concept for Bayside.

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Queens basketball roundup


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

BasketballDunkHC1503_X_300_C_Y

Cardozo High School Judges begin title defense with two wins and big games from Walker

The Judges lost four starters from last year’s title team, but one of the newcomers Cardozo coach Ron Naclerio is counting on came up big in the season opening 84-40 win at Edison on Dec. 2. Molloy transfer student Aaron Walker had 24 points in the win, while guard Tareq Coburn added 21 and forward Armando Dunn had 12 rebounds. The Judges improved to 2-0 with a 97-48 win over Campus Magnet on Dec. 8 as Walker had 26 points and Ray Salnave added 19. Cardozo visited Van Buren on Dec. 9, and will host Flushing on Dec. 11 before traveling to the Queens High School of Teaching on Dec. 15.

Christ the King makes trip to Chicago a success

The two-time defending Federation champions headed to Chicago over the weekend and opened the season with an 87-56 win over St. Rita’s. Junior guard Rawle Alkins had a big day with 28 points on 11-of-16 shooting, while Tyrone Cohen added 22. The Royals opened league play Dec. 9 at St. Francis Prep and will visit Brooklyn’s Xaverian on Dec. 14.

Wright-Foreman sets good foundation for High School of Construction

Guard Justin Wright-Foreman recently committed to Hofstra, where he began his senior season nicely by scoring a combined 95 points in victories over Campus Magnet, Edison and Beach Channel high schools. Wright-Foreman and the rest of the Redhawks visited Flushing on Dec. 9 and will face Van Buren on Dec. 11.

Magnet starts anew after legendary coach retires

Chuck Granby ended a 45-year coaching career, and the job at Humanities and the Arts Magnet High School was turned over to Jonathan Cooper. So far the Bulldogs are 1-2. They opened the season with an 80-68 loss to High School of Construction and won at Bayside before falling at Cardozo on Dec. 8. Jamel Kearney had 26 points in the season opener. Next up for Magnet is a visit from Beach Channel on Dec. 9, a trip to Queens High School of Teaching on Dec. 11 and a home game against Van Buren on Dec. 15.

Strong start by Ortiz boosts Forest Hills

Johnny Ortiz is averaging 25 points and Forest Hills is off to a 3-0 start after wins over Bryant on Dec. 2, Aviation on Dec. 4 and Queens Vocational on Dec. 8. The Rangers visited Cleveland on Dec. 9 and will visit Newtown on Dec. 15.

St. John’s ends drought in Syracuse

The Red Storm had not won in Syracuse since Jan 27, 1999. But on Dec. 6 they ended a nine-game losing streak in Syracuse with a 69-57 victory that earned them the No. 24 slot in this week’s AP poll. D’Angelo Harrison scored 24 points and the senior was named Big East Player of the Week. The 6-1 Red Storm hosted FDU on Dec. 10 and will face Fordham on Dec. 14 at Madison Square Garden.

St. John’s women’s team remains unbeaten

The St. John’s women are 7-0 after Aliyyah Handford and Danaejah Grant combined for 42 points in a 55-52 victory at South Florida on Dec. 7. The Red Storm are 7-0 for the fifth time since 2004-05 and have home games with Central Florida on Dec. 11 and NJIT on Dec. 14.

Queens A Boys West Roundup:

Forest Hills opened the season with close wins over Bryant and Aviation high schools on Dec. 2 and 4. In the win over Bryant, Johnny Ortiz scored 37 points. Ortiz also scored in the Rangers’ win over Queens Vocational on Dec. 8. Forest Hills continues its season by visiting Grover Cleveland on Dec. 9 and Newtown on Dec. 15. Jaheam Cornwall totaled 52 points for Francis Lewis in wins over Cleveland and Aviation. The Patriots faced Newtown on Dec. 8 and visited Queens Vocational on Dec 9 and Bryant on Dec. 11. John Bowne, which went undefeated last season, opened the season with a 53-36 win over Cleveland on Dec. 2 and a victory over Aviation on Dec. 8. The Wildcats visited Bryant on Dec. 9, and they will host Queens Vocational on Dec. 11 and visit Long Island City on Dec. 15. Long Island City opened by getting big games from Semir Munovic, who scored 22 in a 65-44 win over Newtown on Dec. 2 and 28 from William Sanchez in a 63-59 win over Bryant.

Queens A East

Far Rockaway has begun with two straight wins after getting a 69-33 win over Pathways on Dec. 1 and a 46-35 victory over Franklin K. Lane on Dec. 3. The Sea Horses hosted Jamaica on Dec. 10, will visit Hillcrest on Dec. 10, will visit Hillcrest on Dec. 12 and will host Richmond Hill on Dec. 17. John Adams also is 2-0 after getting a combined 50 from junior Keishawn Pierre in a 77-57 win over Richmond Hill on Dec. 1 and an 84-64 victory at Jamaica on Dec. 3. The Spartans visited Lane on Dec 10 and will host Springfield Gardens on Dec. 12 and Pathways on Dec. 15. Springfield Gardens has won the last three division championships and began the season with a 65-41 victory over Jamaica on Dec. 1 and a 74-44 victory over Pathways on Dec. 3. The Golden Eagles visited Richmond Hill on Dec. 10, will visit Adams on Dec. 12 and will host Lane on Dec. 15.

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St. John’s women’s basketball team playing in Europe


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

The Lady Johnnies are going international.

Following in the footsteps of the St. John’s men’s basketball team last summer, the women’s basketball team will travel through Italy and Spain for pre-season games in the program’s first experience traveling abroad.

The Red Storm will play four games during the journey from Aug. 16 through Aug. 27, against the Dutch National Team, Adriatic Sea Sirens, Distrito Olimpico Madrid and CB Barcelona Saint Feliuenc. Mixed into the game schedule are sightseeing and service trips to famous spots such as the Coliseum and the Pantheon.

“This opportunity is more about the bigger picture for our players,” head coach Joe Tartamella said. “We’ll have a chance to visit our campus in Rome and be able to do some community service projects.”

The European contests will be the first time the Johnnies play against other teams since having lost their senior leaders, guards Eugeneia McPherson and Briana Brown.

“We’ve had about 10 practices and they’ve probably practiced a lot more together, so it will be a good test for us,” Tartarmella said.

Last season, the Johnnies finished with an overall record of 23-11 and defeated the University of Southern California in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. But the team lost to the University of Tennessee, 67-51, in the second round of the national tournament.

This year the team has added four freshmen, who are expected to see minutes from the pre-season journey. Team members admit that they are still in need of fine-tuning before the season starts and they hope the trip will do just that.

“We’re still trying to put the pieces together, but I think it gives us a better scale overall of where we are going to be in October,” junior guard Danaejah Grant said. “It gives us a jump-start on the other teams that don’t have this same opportunity. I think ultimately it puts us ahead of everyone else.”

 

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PSAL basketball’s top scorer chooses school over his sport


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

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In a small classroom in Campus Magnet High School, the PSAL’s 2014 top scorer Nohah Vickers stumbled over an emotional speech before signing his National Letter of Intent.

He had just two shirts representing the schools that offered him full scholarships to play basketball at the next level. The first was Delaware State University—a Division 1 school that plays in the same conference as Norfolk State University, where pro player and former Campus Magnet standout Kyle O’Quinn played.

The other shirt was for Division II Mercyhurst University, a liberal arts Catholic college. After getting through his emotional story about the season, his basketball journey and the painstakingly difficult decision of which college to choose— which he couldn’t even make until the same morning—Vickers finally said it: “Mercyhurst.”

“I wanted to choose a school that best fits me, education-wise,” Vickers said at the event on Thursday.

Vickers, who led the league averaging 33.2 points per game and finished with 466 points scored, choose getting a degree and focusing on education rather than playing basketball. Besides being an all-star player, Vickers is a scholar who will graduate with a 93 average.

A very small percentage of college players from Division 1 schools actually go to the NBA — it’s an even smaller percentage from high school. At 5’9’’, 165 pounds, Vickers’ chances were reduced even further.

“Every kid that accepts a college scholarship, they think the next step from the college scholarship is the NBA,” Ken Vickers, Nohah’s father, said. “I know the next step for Nohah that [relieves] me as a parent is the job market.”

Campus Magnet HS head coach Charles Granby has preached his famous message of brains before basketball to his players for the 45 years he’s been at the sidelines, and taught players to dedicate themselves to getting their degrees.

Granby retired this year, but was present for Vickers’ selection party, and was proud of his choice.

“He’ll play for four years and after he comes out of there, he will have to find a J-O-B,” Granby said. “I always tell the boys, “Don’t wind up in the prison system, get that degree because that degree is your invitation to the party.’”

Vickers isn’t giving up on sports yet though. He plans to major in sports management at Merychurst.

 

 

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Christ the King player leads CHSAA to win NYC Mayor’s Cup All-Star game


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

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Christ the King senior forward Kollyns Scarbrough’s last game as a member of the CHSAA might have been her most meaningful.

Scarbrough, who will play for Siena College next year, led the CHSAA All-Star girls basketball team over the PSAL All-Stars to win the NYC Mayor’s Cup, 85-80, on Saturday and earn the title of “best in the city” for her league.

Scarbrough scored 17 points and was named the MVP of the game.

Being that it was her final game in the high school league, the senior wanted to win for bragging rights.

“The PSAL and the Catholic league, there has always been a rivalry, so I really wanted to win that,” Scarbrough said. “It’s New York basketball. Its bragging rights.”

Following the girls game, the boys’ NYC Mayor’s Cup All-Star game commenced. Once again, the CHSAA defeated the PSAL, 108-86.

 

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Sports Star: Robyn Francis, junior guard, Francis Lewis HS girls basketball team


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Follow me @liamlaguerre

 

Name: Robyn Francis
School: Francis Lewis
Grade: Junior
Sport: Basketball
position: Guard

 

Robyn is a junior guard on the Francis Lewis High School girls basketball team. Francis scored 8.9 points, grabbed 6.9 rebounds and added 4.4 assists per game this season for the Lady Patriots, and contributed to the team’s recent PSAL Division AA city championship title. Francis is also part of the school’s outdoor track team. In her spare time Francis volunteers to mentor young basketball players around ages 7 to 10 in a local league. She oversees practices and helps with drills.

Off the court and track, Francis maintains a 92 percent average, and has applied to be a member of Arista, the National Honor Society. Her favorite subject is math and she would like to study accounting in college. Although she is not completely sure yet where she will continue her education, St. John’s University in Jamaica is at the top of her list. Francis is also hoping to join the women’s basketball team at St. John’s.

Why is it important to do well both academically and athletically?
“It’s hard, but it’s also worth it. If I can get a half basketball scholarship and a half academic scholarship, that would be great. I want to go to go college for free, and I want to focus on my education.”

Why do you want to major in accounting?
“Because I’m good at math, and I want to do math as a career. Accounting involves math, and it’s a good paying job.”

Why do you like teaching young children to play basketball?
“Since I have a great talent in basketball, I want to share that with others. Also, when I stop playing, I want to see the younger generation playing at a higher level of basketball than me.”

Why would St. John’s University be a good fit for you?
“I think St. John’s is convenient because it’s close to home, it has accounting and I like how the girls [basketball team]plays.”

 

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Robert Morris upsets St. John’s in first round of NIT


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

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An unsatisfying season for the St. John’s men’s basketball team ended with a sour taste.

Despite being a No. 1 seed, the Red Storm were upset by the Robert Morris University Colonials in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament (NIT), 89-78, in front of a small crowd of 1,027 fans at Carnesecca Arena on Tuesday, crushing the Johnnieshopes of making a deep postseason run. 

The Colonials, which also defeated top-seeded University of Kentucky in last year’s NIT initial round, opened the game with a 19-2 run in the first five minutes, led by Northeast Conference player of the year Karvel Anderson, who finished with a game-high 38-points, and teammate Lucky Jones, who had 25 points.

St. John’s never led or tied the game once Robert Morris started scoring, and seemed as though the team was still down about not being selected to play in the Big Dance.

“I mean we were pretty upset about the fact that we didn’t make the [NCAA] tournament, but they just started hot and everything that went up, seem like it went in,” junior guard Jamal Branch said.

Branch wasn’t joking. The Colonials shot 48.2 percent from the field for the game and 50 percent (16 of 32) for three.

But in the second half, trailing by 26 points with nine minutes remaining, St. John’s executed a 24-6 run for the following six minutes that chopped the Colonials’ lead down to just eight points. The overly silent crowd turned on like a switch during the comeback and possibility of a win.

St. John’s rifle squad, three point specialists Max Hooper and Marco Bourgault, paced the Red Storm’s surge. Hooper finished with a career-high 18 points, shooting 6 of 12 from behind the arc.

And with under a minute remaining, Branch hit four three pointers to draw the Red Storm within seven points, but the Johnnies had run out of time.

St. John’s head coach Steve Lavin hinted maybe things could have been different if the freshman star point guard Rysheed Jordan, who was out suffering from tonsillitis, was available, but said he told the team to focus on next season.

“Tonight was disappointing because we didn’t bring forth the effort or purposefully play that would have allowed us to be competitive,” Lavin said. “Next season we’ll be the veteran group, probably returning as many lettermen as any team in the league. Next year obviously the goals, aspirations will be ratcheted up, because of what we return.”

 

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Cardozo HS boys basketball team wins city crown


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

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There has been lots of murmuring about Benjamin Cardozo sophomore guard Rashond Salnave being one of the best basketball players in the city.

Expect those whispers to grow louder after his performance in the PSAL Division AA city championship on Saturday, March 9.

Trailing the Thomas Jefferson Orange Wave by one point at the Barclays Center, Salnave drove hard to the basketball and was fouled while shooting with 2.5 seconds remaining. The shot didn’t go in, but then, despite enormous pressure weighing on him, the sophomore buried two free throws to win the game, 55-54.

“I was nervous, too,” Salnave said. “I’ve been in those situations before, it’s just that the situations before weren’t as big as this one. Some people say I’m only a sophomore and it’s a big feeling, but I knew what I had to do.”

Salnave finished with 16 points, and was 10 of 12 from the free-throw line, to help lead the Cardozo Judges to their first city crown since 1999. He was the undisputed recipient of the league’s MVP award.

After the final buzzer, Salnave and Cardozo head coach Ron Naclerio cried and shared a hug. It was an emotional win because during the 15-year drought between city titles for the Judges, Naclerio said the team faced many hardships, including losing a player he “considered a son” to another school, and Naclerio’s own suspension of a few games during the playoffs last year after he tossed the Queens Borough Championship runner-up plaque.

Naclerio satirically cradled the championship trophy from the time he received the golden basketball, and didn’t let it go while taking tons of pictures with fans, then walking through the halls of the Barclays Center, then during the press conference with reporters, and even in the locker room.

Cardozo senior Francisco Williams embodies the difficulties the team faced during its drought. Williams started as a freshman at the high school, but personal problems, such as joining the wrong crowd and health issues with his mother, forced him to transfer schools. But this academic year he transferred back to Cardozo, and became one of the team’s most complete players.

Williams added 21 points and six rebounds in the win, and was a dominant defensive presence under the rim. The senior was so happy that his return helped win a championship that he was looking to celebrate in a special way.

“I’m really excited,” Williams said. “We’re going to stay up all night tonight. I’ll probably play 2K (NBA 2K14 video game) and go to Hooters.”

 

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Francis Lewis HS girls basketball team wins championship


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

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A magical season for the Francis Lewis Lady Patriots girls’ basketball team culminated with a fairy tale ending, as the team won its first PSAL Division AA championship.

For 15 consecutive years Murry Bergtraum High School won the city title, but Lewis knocked off the Manhattan team in a semifinal last week.

Then the Lady Patriots outlasted perennial powerhouse South Shore Lady Vikings in the city championship game on Saturday, March 8, and won 65-58.

“It’s a pretty great feeling knowing that we made it this far,” Lewis sophomore guard Sierra Green said. “This was our goal at the beginning of the year. And we succeeded.”

The team’s win and superb season was by and large a result of the efforts of Green. She led the Lady Patriots with a game-high 21 points, and was the recipient of the league’s MVP award.

By halftime Lewis led 27-18, and Green scored more than half of the team’s points with 14.

“Sierra is just one of those other girls. I always say she has no conscious,” Lady Patriots head coach Stephen Tsai said. “We could have no offense and she makes something happen.”

But the guard was held scoreless in the fourth quarter and the Lady Vikings, which had a 55-38 advantage on the boards, turned rebounds into scoring opportunities.

South Shore executed a late second half run, eventually cutting the lead to 51-47.

Lady Patriots junior guard Chi La Bady heated up in the second half. She scored 11 of her 19 points to help Lewis push back against the Lady Vikings’ charge.

“My teammates did step up,” Green said, “so I didn’t have to rush, not rush, I didn’t have to go that hard as I did earlier in the game.”

 

 

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Lions tear apart Christ the King in Brooklyn/Queens championship


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

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Bishop Loughlin dominated Christ the King High School boys basketball team in every aspect in the CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens championship on Friday at St. Francis High School.

For the past few years the Loughlin Lions have dropped the final game against their conference rivals. But the Lions, led by senior Khadeen Carrington, were in firm control of the game, powered by revenge.

Carrington, the CSHAA’s Most Valuable Player, scored 42 points in the 90-71 win over Christ the King Royals for the championship. Loughlin senior guard Michael Williams, a Rutgers commit, added 19 points and eight rebounds in the rout.

“We played like we had nothing to lose tonight,” Carrington said. “We played with a chip on our shoulder and we got the W.”

Towards the end of the first half, the Royals made an effort to catch up. Junior forward Travis Atson, who finished with 22 points, knocked down consecutive threes to make the score 43-33.

But Loughlin responded with two threes as well, including a buzzer beater by Darius James at halftime, extending the lead to 49-33 going into the locker room.

The second half was more of the same as the teams traded shots. The Royals weren’t making defensive stops and couldn’t catch up.

Carrington, a Seton Hall commit, may have put an end to Royal’s dreams of a comeback. With just 2:54 remaining in the game he stole the ball and slammed a powerful two-handed dunk, giving Loughlin a 82-59 advantage.

“The bottom line is [Loughlin] played like they  were supposed to,” Christ the King coach Joe Arbitello said. “They played like seven seniors that wanted to win the Brooklyn/ Queens Championship.”

The season isn’t completely over for the Royals. Now the team will head to the citywide tournament match ups, and Arbitello promised the team will pick their heads up for the next round.

“We’re Christ the King, we’re not sinking the ship here,” Arbitello said. “They are going to get our best effort the next time.”

 

 

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Townsend Harris wins first playoff match against Susan Wagner


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

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The Townsend Harris Hawks girls basketball team started the PSAL Division A girls basketball tournament on a high note.

The three seeded Hawks glided to a 65-53 win over Susan Wagner of Staten Island in its first playoff match on Feb. 14.

Senior captain Sierra Berkel stuffed the stat sheet, finishing with 26 points, 16 rebounds, six steals and three assists, and junior guard Debra Chan added 24 points and five rebounds in the win.

Although the Hawks have finished first in the Queens A West Conference for the past two seasons, they haven’t made it passed the quarter finals round of the city tournament. This year, with another regular season title under their belt, Townsend Harris is hoping to make it count.

“We’re going all the way,” Chan said.

Thought the Hawks were highly favored to win the match, head coach Lauren Caiaccia prepared her team for the unexpected, since they don’t usually play teams from Staten Island.

Caiaccia told her team to be focused and play tough defense.

Towards the end of the third quarter, the Hawks’ defense led to a 44-35 gap, and from there, the team didn’t look back.

Caiaccia attributed this win to her team’s defense prowess, especially that of forwards Bianca Dilan andVasiliki Makris, and guard Natalie Gomez, who put the brakes on the Staten Island team.

“This was a tough match-up, they had more height and size than us,” Caiaccia said. “We strategized well and I think we executed the game plan.”

 

PSAL Division A Girls Basketball Tournament Queens Round 1 results:

(15) Hillcrest High School defeated (18) Frederick Douglass with a score of 46-40. Next match will be against Mckee Career and Technical High School on Feb. 25 in Round 2.

(27) William C. Bryant lost against (6) Port Richmond, 68-23
(25) Thomas Edison lost to (8) Lehman HS, 47-37.
(16) Benjamin Cardozo lost to (17) DeWitt Clinton, 58-49.
(28) John Bowne lost to (5) Evander Childs, 55-21.
(29) August Martin lost to (4) Canarsie High School, 56-38.

Upcoming Round 1 Matches:

Feb. 24 (22) Forest Hills vs (11) Stuyvesant
Feb. 24 (24) Bayside vs (9) Lab Museum

 

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