Tag Archives: Cardozo

No reason why Christ the King and Cardozo shouldn’t play every year


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo by Larry Fleisher

BY LARRY FLEISHER

Last March, Christ the King and Cardozo were trying to advance to the state federation championship game in Albany.

The Royals wound up winning a 54-51 overtime thriller in a game that featured Rawle Alkins hitting the game-tying three-pointer in regulation and Ray Salnave scoring 20 points for Cardozo. Eventually, Christ the King won consecutive state federation titles for the first time in program history.

As nice as it was for the two schools to play, the one downside was playing the game in a location three hours north of New York City. The game started at 11 a.m. on a Friday and the stands were hardly packed.

With that in mind, the schools scheduled a regular-season meeting as the fourth game of the Nike vs. Under Armour Showcase at Christ the King on Jan. 11. As the finale of the showcase that featured Christ the King’s girls team, Lincoln, St. Raymonds, Jefferson and Long Island Lutheran, the schools met in front of a packed crowd that featured at least 20 Division I coaches in the stands at various points.

The game wasn’t a reprise of the classic playoff game as Christ the King took control early in the second half and came away with a 76-64 victory over the previously undefeated Judges. The biggest impression was the atmosphere that left both Christ the King coach Joe Arbitello and Cardozo coach Ron Naclerio saying this should be an annual regular-season game.

“We’ve got to play every year,” Arbitello said. “I think it’s something that we have to do every year. He’s the best PSAL team in Queens, we’re the best CHSAA team in Queens. Why not?”
“I have no problem doing it,” said Naclerio, who was presented with a plaque for winning his 700th game before tip-off. “To be the best, you have to play the best and beat the best. I think Joe liked it.”

Having the game played in this kind of atmosphere also prompted the question of why the two best teams in Queens had not played in the regular season in recent years.

“I was a new coach, I don’t know, stupidity on my part,” Arbitello said. “I don’t know. It was stupid. We played last year in the state semifinal game in Albany and there were five people in the gym and it was 11 in the morning. You come here and this is the atmosphere that this game should be played in, not like that.”

There is a rematch at Cardozo on Jan. 29, 2016, at a time to be determined. By then Alkins, Salnave and Aaron Walker will be seniors, while Jose Alvarado will be a junior.

The Royals will be hoping Alkins is feeling much better and that Alvarado’s development will continue.

Alkins played with the flu and scored six points and had 12 rebounds, and when he picked up his fourth foul he suggested the Royals use a zone defense. Alvarado compensated for Alkins being sick by getting 25 points in a variety of ways and Christ the King’s depth also highlighted the win.

“We haven’t been a one-man show all year, but he’s happy to win, and he’s happy his teammates did well,” Arbitello said. “That’s what makes him a great basketball player, not just what he does on the floor.”

The Judges will hope to see more of the acrobatic moves and physical defense from Walker, who had 18 points. They will also aim to win a game that many hope will be a regular-season staple of the Queens high school basketball season.

“I liked what I saw and I hope the kids get better,” Naclerio said. “Some shots didn’t fall and some threes went in and out and they went back and got a quick layup. That’s the way the cookie crumbles.”

The odds are good that the schools could meet in Albany in the state federation playoffs. After an atmosphere like that on Jan. 11, the goal will be to duplicate it on a yearly basis and create a game few will forget.

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Cardozo senior to play on NFL gridiron


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos by Dawn Perry

BY LARRY FLEISHER

Four years ago, the only football experience Miltiadis (Milton) Kaplanidis had was in the schoolyard of M.S. 67 on Marathon Parkway.

Playing in those informal games, Kaplanidis did not necessarily think about a high school career, let alone one that would lead to playing on an NFL field at some point. Eventually it did, and the Cardozo senior defensive lineman received one of the coveted spots on the 2015 U.S. Select Team that faces the International Federation of American Football World Team at AT&T Stadium on Jan. 31.

Kaplanidis is among 57 varsity high school football players to be selected to play at the home of the Dallas Cowboys. The team joins five U.S. national teams as part of the International Bowl in competition between USA Football and Football Canada, and Kaplanidis admits to being shocked at making the team even after doing well in tryouts last summer in College Station, Texas.

“It was a shock because when I played in Texas on the national team to try out for this team, I wasn’t the biggest,” Kaplanidis said. “I wasn’t the strongest, I wasn’t the best, but I listened to my coach and did the best I could do. I worked hard. I trained for months, and [for] a kid who’s in a public school in New York and to make such an honorable team, it’s amazing.”

Listed at 6 foot 1 and 252 pounds, Kaplanidis is the one of two New York City players and one of three players from New York State on the team. The others are Woodhaven native and Fort Hamilton High School linebacker Jayson Magnani and Babylon High School running back Jerry Brown Jr. Among the recent alumni of the team are quarterbacks Bryce Petty (Baylor) and Kevin Hogan (Stanford), linebacker Mike Hull (Penn State), running back Samaje Perine (Oklahoma), wide receiver Jaxon Shipley (Oklahoma), offensive lineman Jack Mewhort of the Colts, defensive back Tyrann Mathieu of the Cardinals and defensive end Stephon Tuitt of the Steelers.

The road to playing on a national team started in the summer of 2011 when Kaplanidis was among many who received a letter from Cardozo junior varsity coach John Savage about trying out for the team. Unlike many others, Kaplanidis had never played for any of the youth programs in Queens that often feed players into high schools.

“I was contemplating should I join the football team, should I not because years before I wanted to play football, but they never had an outside league,” Kaplanidis said. “I just tried out, [Savage] liked my size, I played and years went by. I think I found my footing in it because I would have never thought I’d have come this far into my life being into football.”

Upon reaching Cardozo in the fall of 2011, Kaplanidis played seven games with the junior varsity. He eventually switched from offensive line to defense so he could go from blocking to making tackles.

“I started off playing left tackle,” he said. “I started playing offensive line. I thought it was boring so I tried defense, and I was still better at offense, but I wanted to work hard on defense because I enjoyed it a lot more.”

Last year, he had 37 tackles in eight games while serving as the team captain. Although the team finished with a 2-8 record, he was the team’s best player and he credits coaches Joseph Kaso, Lou Decicco and Sean Glover for his development and getting a chance to play on the same field as Tony Romo, DeMarco Murray and the rest of the Cowboys.

As for what comes next, Kaplanidis intends to play football in college. So far, Buffalo, which competes in the Mid-American Conference, has shown interest, but most of the interest in Kaplanidis has come from Division II and III schools such as SUNY-Cortland, Ithaca, Assumption, Stonehill and Merrimack.

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Cardozo basketball coach notches his 700th victory with more to come


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Cardozo basketball Facebook page

BY LARRY FLEISHER

Ron Naclerio keeps scorebooks of every game that he has ever coached, including his first win Nov. 30, 1981, a 56-40 victory over Aviation. That was his only victory in his first season coaching Cardozo as the youngest coach in the PSAL. At the time Naclerio wasn’t thinking about getting 699 more wins or looking 33 years ahead.

“My first year I only won one game. You win one game [per] year, I’d have to coach 700 years [to make it to the 700th win],” Naclerio said.

Naclerio didn’t have to coach 700 years. He gradually built a strong program at the Bayside school that would eventually became a major force in the PSAL. Several of his players, such as Duane Causewell, Royal Ivey and Rafer Alston, reached the NBA and many others including the Woodward brothers, Daryll Hill and Ryan Rhoomes got Division I college scholarships.

Naclerio’s 700th victory happened on Dec. 22 with a 73-61 game against High School of Construction. It came over three and a half years after his 600th victory by beating All Hallows and seven years after his 500th victory in a game against Flushing.

“That’s great,” said Rhoomes, a junior forward now playing at Fordham. “He’s one of my favorite coaches.”

Only when the Cardozo Judges survived a tough game did his latest coaching milestone sink in. Naclerio could not quite enjoy the moment until Rashond Salnave’s three-pointer late in the game gave the Judges an insurmountable 12-point lead.

After the three-pointer, assistant coach and former player Mike Blissett congratulated Naclerio. And when the game ended many of his current players embraced the passionate and frenetic coach, who was mostly relieved that Cardozo pulled out a victory after being down by one point at the start of the fourth quarter.

“When we won the game, I was so relieved because we started the fourth quarter down one and it was six with about a minute to go,” Naclerio said.

Naclerio became the fourth coach in New York State to reach 700 wins and third in the city to achieve that many victories. The late Molloy coach Jack Curran had 972 in 55 seasons. Campus Magnet coach Chuck Granby had 711 victories in his career.

Naclerio achieved the milestone with about 1,000 people in Cardozo’s gym, which he said seats 900. He also had more than 50 former players in attendance. Since notching the win, he has been getting endless phone calls, texts, and Twitter and Facebook messages.

“That’s a number that very few people have a chance to say [they achieved],” Naclerio said. “I’m the youngest in New York State high school, college or pro to do that. I didn’t realize that.”

Before building the Judges’ basketball program, Naclerio was a ballboy for the Red Holzman’s Knicks from 1970-75. He also played baseball for St. John’s and played four years in the minor leagues for the Chicago White Sox. Naclerio also worked as assistant coach under Al Matican, whom he also played for at Cardozo.

Naclerio doesn’t regret sticking with high school basketball, instead of moving to coach college. By sticking with high school coaching, he said he has had the chance to witness some other memorable victories besides his team’s two city championships.

Among the most noteworthy in Naclerio’s mind were a four-overtime victory over St. Anthony’s, a comeback from an eight-point deficit against Springfield Gardens with less than a minute to play in 1988 and the PSAL semifinal victory over Lincoln in 1999 that preceded Cardozo’s first championship.

In between memorable wins, Naclerio has spent numerous hours scouting and preparing while using his passion for the sport to getting the most out of his players.

“When I played basketball, I was the all-time hustler,” Naclerio said. “There’s no such thing as too much hustle in basketball and I was like that when I played. I was like that when I played baseball and I think it just carried it over.”

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Cardozo HS senior to take part in Times Square ball drop


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Sonam Lama /  Countdown Entertainment

One Queens teen will be the belle of the ball this New Year’s Eve.

Sonam Lama, a 16-year-old senior at Benjamin N. Cardozo High School, will be one of five representatives from the International Rescue Committee (IRC) to push the button, signaling the lowering of the Times Square New Year’s Eve ball, and help lead the 60-second countdown to 2015.

“It is such a great honor and there are so many thoughts and emotions going through my mind and my heart right now,” Lama said. “I feel blessed to have the opportunity to participate in New Year’s Eve in Times Square and am really looking forward to pressing the button along with other awesome and inspiring people.”

The IRC, an organization that helps refugees from around the world, resettled Lama from her native Nepal when she came to the United States in 2012.

Lama’s family was forced from their village after her father, an active member of the Nepali Congress party, faced pressure to join the Maoists.

Even after they moved to the city of Kathmandu, they were followed, and with no help from the police, they had to keep moving from location to location, according to Lama. In 2005, her father applied for political asylum in the U.S. and left Nepal.

Lama said she didn’t know a lot about America, but imagined her father would be wearing a suit, carrying briefcases and living in tall skyscrapers “like the movies.”

IRC President and CEO David Miliband, Nykhor Paul, an Sonam Lama practice pressing the button. (Photo courtesy of Countdown Entertainment)

IRC President and CEO David Miliband, Nykhor Paul and Sonam Lama practice pressing the button. (Photo courtesy of Countdown Entertainment)

When Lama and her family finally joined her father in May 2012, life in America was not what she imagined, including the small, older building that would be her home. But she did find improvements, such as medical help for her sister who needed a hearing aid.

Though the Elmhurst resident found no language barriers after learning English in school since kindergarten and from watching television, high school was a challenge.

Lama admits at first she had difficulty adapting to her large school, but after joining clubs and activities, such as the Red Cross, UNICEF, badminton and volleyball during her junior year, she was able to make friends.

Joining Lama during the famed ball drop will be models Alek Wek and Nykhor Paul, both former refugees from South Sudan, Jencarlos Canela, an award-winning musician and actor who has volunteered with IRC, and IRC President and CEO David Miliband.

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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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Benjamin Cardozo HS tennis star takes city title again


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre



She’s done it again.

Benjamin Cardozo junior tennis player Sabrina Xiong became a two-time PSAL individual champion after defeating Stefani Lineva of Forest Hills High School on Wednesday at the National Tennis Center.

Xiong, who ranks first in the PSAL and also in the United States Tennis Association’s under 16 eastern section, was in top form and breezed past Lineva in two sets (6-1, 6-1).

“It’s definitely a feel great feeling just knowing that all my hard work and training paid off,” she said.

Xiong, who has been in contact with NCAA Division 1 college coaches, dreams of turning pro one day but first plans to go to college and major in economics.

But before she heads to the next level, Xiong still has something left to accomplish at the high school level.

During her career at Cardozo, the Judges have come up short in the PSAL team tennis finals for three consecutive years. They lost against Beacon High School (4-1) on May 13— Xiong won the only match in the best of five series.

In her senior year next season she hopes to lead Cardozo to a team championship.

“Cardozo has always been top in tennis,” Xiong said. “Unfortunately, we’ve fallen short in the past three years. It would be great if we got it.”

 

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Judges dominate on the court


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

The Benjamin N. Cardozo Judges, the top team in the borough (PSAL 10-0), were reminded to “play Cardozo basketball” before trouncing Martin Van Buren (PSAL 4-7) and keeping their undefeated record.

Both teams were without their starting point guards, Van Buren’s Darron Williams and Cardozo’s Rashond Salnave, at Tuesday night’s game but play stayed strong on both ends of the court.

“Other players had to step up,” said Van Buren head coach Everton Edwards. “We do what we do. Basketball games are won in between the lines. You have to go out and believe you can win.”

Although the Van Buren VeeBees played like they believed they could win, Cardozo set the stage with a successful layup just 10 seconds into the game.

Both teams were slow on shots throughout the first quarter, but remained physical on play. Judges forward Armando Dunn and power forward Carl Edoua Balthazar continued to snatch the ball right from the VeeBees’ hands whenever they had the opportunity.

With three minutes left, VeeBees guard Vladimir Midy faked right, sank a jump shot and got the foul for a four-point play. Forward Kristian Mondesir from Cardozo rebounded the ball and responded with a three-point shot, ending the quarter at 12-6 Cardozo.

The second quarter opened with four successful quick shots, back-to-back from both teams. Dunn blocked a VeeBees’ shot attempt and Judges’ guard Marzuq Jimoh grabbed the ball and ran with it, scoring on the other end of the court.

“If you need 30 seconds, tell me,” Ron Naclerio, Cardozo head coach, yelled to the out-of-breath Jimoh after he made his shot.

Van Buren started making long passes around the perimeter, sending Cardozo players chasing after the ball. In the final minutes of the half, the VeeBees outscored the Judges 6-2.

After halftime, the Judges slumped back onto the court, looking defeated.

Naclerio shouted: “Play Cardozo basketball!” before his team started play.

Center Francisco Williams acknowledged his coach, took the ball and easily sank a layup to start off the half, bringing the score to 24-17 Cardozo, and the team was suddenly revived.

Van Buren missed their following shot and the rebound was snagged by Cardozo point guard Elijah McNeely, who dribbled down the court and sent a sharp pass to Williams in the paint.

The VeeBees continued to play hard but fell short in executing their shots. With 49 seconds left in the game, Edwards used a full time-out despite a 17-point deficit.

After Cardozo got their energy back, they were able to win 53-35, but not without scaring the crowd just a little.

“That was a good game, it made us sweat,” said a group of Cardozo parents.

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