BY LARRY FLEISHER
High School of Construction does not have the tradition that Cardozo, Campus Magnet and Bayside have accumulated over the years. The school has existed for less than a decade and is in its second season competing in Queens AA — the highest level of borough basketball.
After going 20-10 in their last two seasons competing in the Queens A division against Springfield Gardens and John Adams, the Red Hawks won 14 league games last year. The only two losses were to Cardozo, and then the Red Hawks knocked the Judges off in the borough championship game last February at City College.
The Red Hawks saw their first season competing in Queens AA end with a second-round overtime loss to Brooklyn Collegiate. That was the last game of second-leading scorer Marlon Alcindor and the final game of Justin Wright-Foreman’s first season with the school after transferring from Christ the King.
This year, the Red Hawks are looking to remain a significant force in the PSAL and so far they’re doing it well with an overall record of 8-0. As of Dec. 15, they have won their first five league games by nearly 25 points per game and have averaged 78 points while holding opponents to 53 points.
“They were always good but they played in a lower league,” coach Cory Semper said before a 76-39 win at Van Buren last week. “The school is the type of school I don’t see any parents turning down. It’s a great school. It just works. It’s a public school in a Catholic school environment. That’s what kids want and parents want.”
The success also breeds attention and perhaps nobody on the Red Hawks gets in the spotlight more than shooting guard Justin Wright-Foreman. He averaged 21.6 points last year in league play, 25.2 in five playoff games and through five league games, Wright-Foreman has averaged 27.4.
“It’s good,” Semper said of coaching Wright-Foreman. “I’ve had kids like him before when I was at Bayside. So I’m used to it. But he’s a go-to guy. When we need something we go through him. It’s good coaching him. He’s confident. He’s confident in his teammates. It’s a good experience.”
Normally someone with those totals would be attracting coaches from many Division I colleges, but Wright-Foreman has already decided where he will be playing next season. He had about 15 scholarship offers but committed to Hofstra in early October.
“We wanted to get it over with early,” Semper said. “He had 15 offers on the table, but it was a matter of choosing the right one. I think he had Hofstra in his heart all the time, but he wanted to see what else was going on out there, but I think he made a great choice for him and his family.”
The Red Hawks are not just about Foreman-Wright. They also have an effective secondary scorer in Kyle Allman, a St. John’s Prep transfer who has averaged 13.2 points in league games and had 26 in a 106-66 non-league win over Wadleigh at Gauchos Gym in the Bronx on Dec. 14.
They also have a rugged rebounder in 6-foot-5 Bryshon Bryant, who had 11 rebounds against Van Buren and has 41 through five league games.
Still there are times when Wright-Foreman will have to take over, a point he acknowledged after getting 22 against Van Buren last week.
“I want my teammates to get open,” he said. “But sometimes I have to take control of the game, but most importantly I have to get my teammates involved. Give them the ball and let them work.”
So far everything is working for Construction from their elite shooting guard to their smothering trapping defense, but like many coaches, Semper believes the team’s performance can get even better.
“It’s still early,” Semper said. “We still got a lot of learning to do. There are a couple of teams that are dominant right now. We’re not on that level. I think we’ve got to lose a couple of games to see how good we are but hopefully we don’t lose any.”
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