Tag Archives: psal

Bayside girls flag football team scores historic first win


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THE COURIER/Photos Liam La Guerre

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The air was tense in the final six seconds of the game at Bayside High School field on Tuesday.

The Commodores were about to defeat Townsend Harris 6-0 after scoring the game’s only touchdown and the home team was feverishly preparing to defend its lead.

“Defense,” one man shouted from the crowd of parents and students on the bleachers.

“This is your home field, Bayside,” another said.

It could have been the atmosphere for a boys football game, but in reality it was the second-ever Bayside H.S. girls flag football game.

Just two years after the PSAL introduced flag football as a new sport for girls, Bayside students and fans enthusiastically embraced it.

“This is a great school to go to and we have a very good sports program. I just wanted to bring something new to get even more kids involved,” said head coach Magdalini Kassims.

Kassims surveyed students to test the desire to play the sport two seasons ago. Nearly 100 girls signed up. Last year, she hosted a tryout, where about 50 girls showed up.

Kassims had enough to fill at least two teams, but made tough cuts to get down to 25 girls, spawning the first-ever girls flag football squad at the school.

Made up of academics, artists, musicians and athletes of all kinds, the team is a composite of girls who appreciate sports and others who want to learn football. Some actually have some football experience, such as sophomore quarterback Lenore Aponte, who scored the team’s lone touchdown against Townsend Harris.

Aponte, who also plays basketball and soccer at Bayside, said she learned how to play football by joining games with “boys at recess,” so she immediately jumped at the opportunity to play for the school.

“I was so excited when we heard it was a go,” Aponte said. “I love playing football. It’s fun and I’m good at it.”
The team isn’t lacking in spirit. With the game on the line, the girls screamed “Intercept it,” for the final play, a pass attempt by Townsend Harris.

Bayside’s defense wrapped up the Lady Hawks, stopping the play and giving the Commodores (1-1 PSAL) the first win in history.

Although she is happy they won, Kassimis said she is mostly concerned with the experience the girls will get from playing football.

“Winning is important because we all like to be winners, we all like to feel good,” she said. “But what’s more important to me is that the girls have a positive experience. If you worked hard enough and you’re dedicated enough, eventually the wins will come.”

 

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Red Hawks flying high, fresh faces eyeing back-to-back titles


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THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

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High School for Construction junior softball player Jenasez Alves has something to prove.

Last year, the Red Hawks varsity and junior varsity squads were top teams in the city. The varsity team won its division and then the city title — the school’s first Division A championship — after a 3-2 win over perennial powerhouse Tottenville High School of Staten Island.

But despite the junior varsity team also winning its division, they’ve come up short in the playoffs, and were routed two years ago by Tottenville.

Jenasez Alves

Alves, who was on that team, was promoted from the junior varsity team this year and is looking for payback. She is determined to help the varsity team win back-to-back titles and hopes to repay the squad from Staten Island in the process. Likewise, other fresh faces on the Red Hawks are trying to earn their stripes to defend the team’s city title.

“I just want to see how everything plays out,” Alves said after a game against the John Bowne Wildcats on Monday, April 7, “and with this team this year, if we will be able to fill in the shoes of last year’s [team].”

With her motivation, Alves is shocking even her coach. She is currently batting .632, and Alves went 3-for-4 on Monday with two triples and three RBIs, helping the Red Hawks to a 15-0 shutout over the Wildcats (1-4 PSAL).

“Jena is a totally different ball player, she has come a long way with a lot of hard work,” head coach Marco Migliaccio said. “We lost a lot of big players, but she stepped up. This is an unexpected surprised.”

The Red Hawks (8-0 PSAL) are powered by many seniors from the championship team, including all-star Brittany Rodriguez, who has lead the A division in hits and batting average for the past two years. Rodriguez, the team’s ace, also led the league in strikeouts (162) and wins (15) in 2012.

But behind the upperclassmen are two dangerous freshmen who bypassed the junior varsity team. Freshman infielder Lizul Portugal, who is already a regular starter, is batting .704 in 27 at bats with five homers — good enough to be in the top of the A division in both catergories. Besides eyeing another title, Portugal will learn from Rodriguez and the other seniors about how to lead the team beyond this season.

“Brittany has been everything over the years,” Migliaccio said. “It helps [Portugal] a lot. Brittany really had nobody to look up to, but [Portugal] has a year to watch Brittany and look up to her.”

 

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With hopes of attracting colleges, players participate in city all-star game


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THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

It’s already April but the PSAL’s most prolific scorer of the 2014 basketball season, Nohah Vickers, still doesn’t know which college he will play for next year.

With just a few months remaining in the NCAA college commitment period, several schools have expressed interest in Vickers, but they are still looking at him closely before giving him official offers.

Vickers, a point guard for the Campus Magnet Bulldogs, led the league with 466 points, averaging 33 points and 6.5 assists per game. But the Bulldogs had an undersized team and finished second-to-last in the Queens AA league with a 4-12 record.

Vickers, however, was invited to play in the 2014 Mayor’s Cup All-Star boys basketball game on Saturday, March 29, which featured the top high school seniors from the season.

Some players who participated in the game had already committed to college teams, but the game also had athletes, who, like Vickers, aren’t sure where they’ll end up next year and were playing to display their talents and impress college coaches.

“It definitely helps you with showcasing your talent,” said Vickers, who has been contacted by Delaware State University, among other schools. “Even though it’s an all-star game, you got to hustle, you got to make sure to defend, you know, just the little things to impress [recruiters].”

The PSAL lost 108-86 against the CHSAA in the all-star game, which featured high flying dunks, alley-oops and slick ball handling skills that excited the crowd of fans.

Officials hope the all-star mixing, which is in its fourth year, will not only become a traditional city bragging rights tournament, but eventually become a recognized name for college coaches and recruiters to see city players.

“They more people they are able to get in front of, the more opportunities they are going to have,” said Jeffrey Mohl, vice president of sports marketing for NYC and Company, which organizes the annual all-star event. “And that’s the whole goal, to say seven, eight, nine kids got scholarships or looked at, or opportunities that they wouldn’t have had before this.”

Francisco Williams, a senior forward from the 2014 PSAL champion Benjamin Cardozo High School basketball team, is just another example of a top player who has yet to commit to a school. Williams, whose mother has health problems, is still looking at colleges but is heavily considering staying close to home. He said Long Island University of Brooklyn has expressed interest in him, but he is keeping his options open and hoped the Mayor’s Cup would help showcase his abilities to more coaches.

“This is just a continuation of schools looking at him,” Cardozo head coach Ron Naclerio said of the all-star game. “It’s like dating a girl or marrying. He wants to know schools are looking at him, but we have to find the right one.”

 

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


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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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Trio of seniors to lead Benjamin Cardozo baseball team after injury-prone season


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THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

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Last season the Benjamin Cardozo High School Judges baseball team was plagued with injuries.

Senior Adrian Castano, who signed with the Detroit Tigers, had injured his lower back and an elbow, senior Connor Doyle, who now plays for Stony Brook University, suffered a torn ACL, and junior Christopher Campbell hyperextended his right shoulder. All three missed the season, resulting in a loss of overall power.

But this year the Judges are looking healthier, and will be led by a triple threat of seniors.

Keith Rogers, one of the PSAL’s top pitchers, is back to lead the Judges’ rotation. David Lim, a versatile fielder and solid batter, is poised to have a career year. Also, after missing most of his junior year, Campbell is back to platoon the outfield in center.

“This year I feel like out of all three years I’ve been here we have much better team chemistry, and we might not have as many big guys, but everybody is here as a team,” Campbell said.

The three seniors showcased their talents in the Judges’ 2014 season opener on March 24, coasting to an 11-0 mercy rule win in five innings over Queens High School of Teaching.

Rogers, who is thinking of attending either Southern University or Grambling State University, had 11 strikeouts and no hits in four innings pitched.

Campbell was 1-for-1 and scored three runs, while Lim, who has received an offer from Fairleigh Dickinson University, went 2-for-3 with two runs scored.

Besides their individual skills, the seniors are expected to be leaders on the field as well.

“They’re my eyes on the field,” head coach Ron Gorecki said. “What I don’t see or my [coaches] doesn’t see, my guys on the field see. So we have six coaches, three of which are kids.”

And being that the seniors are leaving after this year, the guys are focused on going for the gold.

“We want to leave saying that we won the city championship,” Campbell said. “We want to bring a lot of attention to our baseball program.”

 

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


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THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

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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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Cardozo wrestling city champs set sights on national tourney


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THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

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Before Benjamin Cardozo senior Douglas Chau joined the wrestling team, he was, as he put it, a “boring kid.”

Chau, 17, didn’t play any sports, wasn’t in any clubs, didn’t interact with many of his peers and maintained average grades (about 80 percent), before his freshman year in high school.

But wrestling became the catalyst of change for the Bayside resident.

He joined at the recommendation of his older sister, who had friends on the team. And Chau said the first time he trained on the mat, he enjoyed the camaraderie and discipline the sport taught. Since then he said he’s become a more social person, and Chau is set to graduate at the end of this semester with an 89 percent average.

“It made me dedicated to everything that I do,” Chau said. “I found myself more disciplined than I was ever before. I can’t exactly say the reason why I like wrestling, but I can feel it.”

After four years of hard work on the team, Chau won the PSAL Division I wrestling individual city championship at 113 pounds last month, his first city-wide title. A city championship was the goal, but this summer he hopes to win a national championship at the Fargo Wrestling Tournament in North Dakota to complete the mission.

Chau’s teammate and training partner, Steve Kim, a junior at Benjamin Cardozo, is also looking to win a national championship at the Fargo tournament. Kim won the PSAL Division I individual city championships at 145 pounds, and before the summer tournament he’ll compete in a national event in Virginia Beach on March 24 as well.

Unlike Chau, Kim has been wrestling since he was a young child. His older brother taught his techniques at home and in the past he was fond of the WWE, the professional wrestling show.

Kim, 17, has designed a special diet to go with his training that emphasizes natural foods, such as fruits, vegetables and water, and he eats few carbs. It’s a testament to his dedication and desire to win a medal at the next level.

“That would be just beyond my dreams, that’s something unexplainable and unimaginable, to become a national champ,” Kim said.

The pair train about five days a week for two hours a day, sometimes conditioning in the weight room, and other times wrestling each other.

Chau said his Fargo appearance will be his last time on the mat because he’ll focus on studying pre-law at St. John’s University.

But after his personal wrestling experience comes to an end, he plans to start a brand new journey with another goal.

“My plan is to join the coaching staff at Cardozo,” Chau said. “My next mission is to help Cardozo move on and get another city champion.”

 

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Sports Star: Joseph Calandra, infielder, Channel View High School baseball team


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Photo courtesy Joseph Calandra

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Name: Joseph Calandra
School: Channel View High School
Grade: Sophomore
Sport: Baseball
Position: infielder, catcher

Joseph Calandra is a sophomore baseball player at Channel View High School, and was a big reason why the team was division champs last season. Last year, Calandra led the Queens B South Division in batting with a .444 average (16-for-36), and was his team’s co-MVP. Calandra was also fourth in hits in the league, and finished third in stolen bases with 20. He plays shortstop, second base and catcher.

Besides his skills on the field, Calandra is a model student. He maintains a 94 percent average, and is one of nearly a dozen students chosen as part of the exclusive Crewlympics mentoring program in the high school. As part of the program, Calandra helps give academic and sports-related advice to students in the sixth through eighth grade, ensuring that they stay on the right track and succeed in middle school.

Calandra hasn’t thought much about which college he would like to attend, but believes that he will major in sports management, in case baseball doesn’t work out.

What are you able to accomplish as part of the Crewlympics program?
“I am able to work with other people and share my talents with others.”

Why is it important to you to help others?
“It feels good when you help someone succeed.”

Why is it significant to be good both on and off the field?
“Because good character off the field is what helped me with my game. If I’m not finishing my classes, I can’t play baseball, so I figure, let me get everything done and I’ll have no worries on the field.”

Why do you want to major in sports management?
“You’ve got to have a backup plan and I figure I could use my grades in a good way to stay around sports.”

 

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Cardozo HS boys basketball team wins city crown


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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


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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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Townsend Harris wins first playoff match against Susan Wagner


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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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Powered by Skittles, Red Hawks taste the Queens Borough Championship


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THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

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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Campus Magnet routs Edison for coach Charles Granby final home game


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THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

With just under a minute remaining at the Campus Magnet boys basketball home game against Thomas Edison on Thursday, fans starting signing “na na na na, na na na na, hey hey-ey, goodbye.”

It could have been a song of pride as the Bulldogs were on route to rout the Edison Inventors to the tune of 87-48. But it was probably a farewell chant for Bulldogs’ head coach Charles Granby.

After 45 seasons platooning the sidelines for Campus Magnet, Granby is finally leaving the Bulldogs bench. And although the Bulldogs (4-10) didn’t show much bite this year, they barked loudly on Granby’s final home game. Campus Magnet’s top scorer, Nohah Vickers, dropped 54 points and dished 7 assists in the win.

“We just played together today and we were just motivated to give him a big win,” Vickers said. “We just wanted the last home game to be a good one, and a memorable one.”

Granby, 79, started teaching physical education at Campus Magnet in 1969 when it was called Andrew Jackson High School. He remained a teacher until 1996, but continued to coach because of his passion for basketball.

He is the winningest coach in PSAL history with 722 victories. He has taught basketball to thousands of teens over the years, and his teams have won 24 division titles, seven Queens championships and the coveted city title in 1985.

Granby himself played basketball at Bradley University, and was on the team when they won the National Invitational Tournament in 1960.

For his accomplishments, he was inducted in the New York State and New York City basketball hall of fames.

But this year Granby knew it was time.

“I just felt tired,” he said. “I’ve been here 45 years. It’s time to go.”

Despite all the trophies, honors and banners, many of which hang in the rafters of the Bulldogs home gym, what many appreciate is Granby’s mentor style that stretches beyond basketball.

His famed “ugly life” speech—without education everything in your life will be “ugly”— is given to players the day they walk in the gym. And even at his final home game, after fans dispersed and the lights in the gym turned off, Granby gave another lecture to his players.

He preached about the importance of going to college and not relying on basketball. He also told the boys to take care of their children when they become fathers.

Many past players hearing these speeches have experienced success, including Orlando Magic forward Kyle O’Quinn and newly elected Brooklyn City Councilmember Robert Cornegy Jr.

“Dad is a father to everybody,” Granby’s daughter Robyn Granby-Poole said. “He’s not worried about the wins. He’s not thinking about that. He’s thinking about OK now your future is going to rely on (education) make sure you have this because basketball may come to an end.”

Now that basketball is coming to an end for him, Granby plans to relax and travel with his free time.

Granby’s successor hasn’t been named, but he’ll leave a lasting legacy for his replacement to look up to.

“It’s one of those things of who replaces the legendary coach?” said Gareth Robinson, the principal for the PSAL in the school. “For anything they do people who have been around in the community will wonder ‘oh well Granby wouldn’t have done it that way.’”

There will be a retirement party for Granby on April 26 at Jericho Terrace.

 

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Sports Star: Sierra Berkel, captain, Townsend Harris HS girls basketball team


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THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Name: Sierra Berkel
School: Townsend Harris
Grade: Senior
Sport: Basketball
Position: Forward

Sierra Berkel is a senior on the Townsend Harris High School basketball team. Berkel is leading the team to its third straight undefeated regular season in the PSAL (12-0), currently averaging 15 points and 8 rebounds per game as of January 22. She has been captain of the basketball team since her sophomore year and is also captain of the school’s girls flag football team. She boasts a 93 percent average, and is a member of ARISTA, the National Honor Society. Berkel also volunteered in former Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr.’s office during his 2013 Queens borough president campaign. Berkel will be attending Haverford College next semester, and will be a part of the school’s basketball team.

Why are you motivated to do well academically and in extracurricular activities?
“My father passed when I was very young. My mother raised me and my twin brother all by herself. Knowing what strength is, I got that from my family. Being able to do well academically and excel in sports is all part of what my family has given me.”

What is your favorite class?
“I think my most interesting class was urban studies class. I took it at Queens College. I think that was pretty interesting, because it was about poverty in the city, causes and how to stop it. That really opened up my eyes.”

Why do you like sports?
“I think it’s really important. Definitely doing basketball I found I was more involved in the school. Also, serving as captain it definitely teaches you leadership and I think that definitely help lift my confidence.”

How did working in Peter Vallone Jr.’s office help you?
“I didn’t know much about the Queens Borough president and politics, but it’s really interesting and important. I learned too that you can make a change in your community. That was definitely a great experience, because you learn your voice is being counted.”

How difficult is it to manage all your extracurricular activities?
“My mother was a teacher, so the importance of education was stressed to me. Working hard and doing well in school is important, because I know it’s valued at my house. There are definitely some tired days, but I knew I wanted to be involved in everything.”

Any words for your coach?
I just wanted to emphasize how much of an impact my coach, Ms. Lauren Caiaccia, has had on me during my whole high school experience. She is a great coach, mentor and friend. She has definitely pushed me and helped me improve my game, as well as try things that I’m not as comfortable with to get better. So individually and holistically as a team, she is a great factor in the success.

 

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Sports Star: Kristen Kangas, captain, Benjamin Cardozo HS gymnastics team


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Name: Kristen Kangas
School: Benjamin Cardozo High School
Grade: Senior
Sport: Gymnastics

Kristen Kangas is the captain of Benjamin Cardozo High School girls gymnastics team, and has led her squad to the top of the PSAL this year. Coach Richard Parascos calls her the “heart and soul” of the team, and Kangas is consistently ranked in the top 25 in the city in all four gymnastic events; balance beam, uneven parallel bars, floor exercise and vaulting. In her sophomore year she helped start the school’s cheerleading team. She has held part-time jobs in recent summers, working as an office assistant at St. John’s University and last year at Long Island Care Center nursing home. Kangas is dyslexic, but enjoys sports and helping others, so she aspires to be a physical therapist. She has applied to several SUNY schools, including Potsdam, Fredonia, Cortland and Plattsburgh.

Why do you do enjoy gymnastics and other extracurricular activities?
“Teenagers could be very dangerous without goals. When teenagers don’t do something, they get into trouble. I like being involved and I like socializing.”

How does it feel to lead younger teammates?
“I love it, because not only am I helping them, but you help yourself at the same time.”

Why do you aspire to be a physical therapist?
“I love doing sports in general and I care for people. I feel like a combination of those two is physical therapy. I feel like it’s me.”

How does being dyslexic affect you?
“A lot of kids that have it don’t know they have it and they struggle in school, but I have it and really try in school. The difference between someone who has it and doesn’t have it is that you have to really work and that’s like my whole life, I work for everything I do.”

 

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