Thomas Edison’s latest invention: Citywide Respect

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Two years ago, basketball at Thomas Edison had fallen so far the program was not invited to join the borough’s elite division, Queens AA, as part of citywide realignment.
Now, the case can be made, they are the class of Queens. Quite a difference a few years have made.
Last season, as part of the ‘A’ division, the Jamaica school won their first Queens crown, knocking off three ‘AA’ teams. Elevated to the top league this winter, they finished third and this March upset No. 3 Wadleigh and No. 6 Curtis in the city playoffs.
Tuesday night, the 1lth-seeded Inventors, the borough’s last team standing, stood toe to toe with second-seeded Boys & Girls in the PSAL Class AA semifinals, falling 68-55 at St. John’s Carnesecca Arena.
“We did kind of set the standard [for basketball at Edison],” senior guard Allan Thomas (15 points) said. “I’m proud of everybody. I feel like we earned people’s respect.”
They took the Kangaroos’ best shot early, falling behind 21-7 in the first quarter. Yet, the plucky Inventors (18-12) were down just six, 46-40, after three quarters. Seniors Presano Bell and Arthur Abbensett were creating problems for the Kangaroos in the paint. Thomas was slicing through them on the perimeter. Isiah Stokley (team-high 21 points), who joined Edison via a safety transfer from Martin Van Buren mid-season, was finishing in transition.
It was not enough for Edison to pull off the monumental upset, but it spoke volumes about the burgeoning program’s progress.
“We never quit, we never folded,” Thomas said. “If it was the beginning of the season, they would’ve blown us out of the gym.”
When he addressed his players afterward, Edison Coach John Ulmer told them: “You went from being walked all over to being respected.”
The last two years have changed the perception of the Inventors. Transfer students have begun to trickle in. A large pro-Edison contingent was stationed behind the scorer’s table during Tuesday’s loss. Thomas said classmates congratulated him after every big win this year.
The school, known for its academics, is developing a reputation for quality basketball.
“We turned a lot of people’s heads around the last two years,” Stokley said.
This is just the first step, Ulmer said. Although Thomas, Abbensett and Bell graduate, the backcourt of Stokley and Stephon Hodges, a two-year starter, will return. So do promising sophomores Stephen Nwaukoni and Osamuede Egharevba. Freshman Kristopher Owens, who led the jayvee in scoring with 22 points per game, will be called up and talented Long Island City transfer Joshua Gray is another welcome addition.
“We’re just going to try and improve and go deeper in the playoffs,” Ulmer said.
Said Stokley: “We want to get to the championship next season.”