Tag Archives: Sierra Berkel

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


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

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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Townsend Harris HS girls basketball team celebrates winning with a win


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

Within the last three seasons, the Townsend Harris High School girls basketball team has developed a culture of winning.

The Hawks have won 38 consecutive regular season PSAL league games in the Queens A West division. Standing in front of a cheering home crowd Monday with broad smiles on their faces, the team unveiled a banner which will hang in the school’s gym to celebrate its back to back undefeated 2012 and 2013 regular seasons.

But the banner ceremony may have been slightly premature, since the Hawks (PSAL 7-0) are on route to an unprecedented third undefeated regular season. And before revealing the banner, they routed division rivals Benjamin Cardozo Lady Judges with a 49-33 win, for victory number 39.

“We are just trying to maintain that,” junior guard Debra Chan said. “Yeah it feels good [to be undefeated.]”

Chan scored 13 points and added four steals against the Lady Judges, and teammate senior Sierra Berkel had a game-high 18 points and 12 rebounds to win the game.

It hasn’t been all winning with the Hawks. They did lose in the quarter finals of the PSAL Division A city playoffs last year, but their regular season record is an accomplishment.

Head coach Lauren Caiaccia attributes the team’s success to their hard work and training off the court.

“We train a lot. We run a lot in practice,” Caiaccia said. “We are ready to go the entire 32 minutes. We kept the intensity up and we also have the experience of winning.”

That intensity proved to be the difference maker in the game against the Lady Judges.

Townsend Harris led by a substantial amount for most of the game. They controlled possession, dominated on defense and almost doubled Cardozo’s score by halftime, 24-13.

But with about five minutes left to play in the fourth quarter, the Lady Judges knocked down two consecutive three-pointers and a layup for an 8-0 run, closing the gap to 37-30.

Then the Hawks returned to their earlier dominating form and finished the game strong with a 12-3 run, led by Berkel.

The senior scored six consecutive points by herself. She started with a layup at the 3:44 mark. Then stole the ball on the ensuing play and scored another layup. Then, on the next possession, Sierra was fouled and nailed both free throws, to advance the lead to 45-30.

“Towards the end of the game we knew what we had to do to get it done,” Berkel said. “We sort of made mistakes in the beginning, but we really wanted to win so we rallied.”

 

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