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Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2019: Weekly New York City boys basketball update

   The weekly look at the New York City metro area's PSAL, CHSAA and AIS schools for the New York State Sportswriters Association is compiled by Mike Libert:

Class AA

1) Brooklyn Collegiate (10-0)- After easily defeating George Westinghouse to begin the week things got a bit rocky for the #1 team in New York City right now as they struggled to take down Boys & Girls 62-60 with a Tahron Allen '21 runner just before the final buzzer giving the Lions the hard fought Brooklyn AA victory. Then on Saturday it was Brooklyn Collegiate taking on one of the best in Class B in Poly Prep at the Brooklyn Bridge Holiday Classic, a matchup that would eventually go into OT as the Blue Devils hung tough before the Lions went in the extra session 68-66. That was it for the Brooklyn Collegiate as they will now be off until January 5th when they face WHEELS in a non-league matchup at the Real Scout Jamboree.

2) St. Raymond (5-1)- The Ravens remain in the #2 spot this week as in their only game of the week on Sunday it was St. Ray's easily downing Abraham Lincoln of Pennsylvania 81-57 at the City Legendz Invitational held at the Gauchos Gym in the Bronx. A balanced scoring attack was led by Malachi Smith '21 for the Ravens who had 23 points to lead the way. Next up will be a trip for St. Raymond to the Slam Dunk to the Beach Tournament down in Delaware as on Friday it will be the Ravens taking on Cape Henlopen of Delaware before a Sunday clash with one of New Jersey's top teams this season in Gill St. Bernard's.

3) South Shore (7-5)- When you go out of town for a tournament it's always something of a crapshoot as to how things will go. For the Vikings their trip this past week to the Emerald Coast 16 Showcase down in Florida was a major success as Jaqui Murray '21 was the top scorer in two of South Shore's three games as they made it to the title game after wins over Somerset Academy (FL) and Milton (GA). They met up with perennial power Memphis East of Tennessee for the championship on Saturday and led at the half before seeing the lead fall past them late in a 65-61 OT loss. This coming week will see the Vikings off before heading down to Maryland for the Governor's Challenge Showcase on December 30th.

4) Xaverian (8-1)- Leaving the cold of New York and heading to the cold of Colorado, the Clippers went to Windsor, CO this past week to play in the Power 2 Play Classic. They were challenged by a number of the top teams from Colorado and Wyoming but at the end of Saturday it was Xaverian raising the championship trophy when they defeated Campbell County of Wyoming 98-94 in 2 OT's. Nick Folk '21 was named Tournament MVP, with Shawn Fulcher '21 making the All-Tournament Team as well for Xaverian who will be back in action this coming Sunday in an important league matchup on the road against Christ the King in Queens.

5) Mount St. Michael (5-1)- Expectations were a bit lower for the Mountaineers coming into the season but they are making sure now that everyone knows they are a team to reckon with. Finding ways to win, Mount went to Queens on Tuesday and held on after losing a 14 points lead to battle back and beat Holy Cross 51-49. Then it was a pair of 10 point non-league wins as on Thursday the Mountaineers defeated KIPP NYC College Prep at home 71-61 before playing at the Westchester County Center on Saturday in a Slam Dunk Tournament Challenge Game against Scarsdale and pulling out a closer than expected 60-50 win. Monday will see the Mountaineers play their final game before Christmas when they host Msgr. Scanlan in a CHSAA league matchup before hosting Harry Truman in a non-league contest on Friday.

6) Benjamin Cardozo (9-0)- You have to give a lot of credit to the Judges as going into their game on Tuesday on the road at John Bowne pretty much no one was giving them a chance to win, but with Aaron Miller '20 putting together a strong effort on the wing, and Andrew Laing '21 doing a solid job in the paint it was Cardozo from start to finish as the Judges took the 59-52 win. They continued their excellent play with wins over Francis Lewis on Thursday, and then it was a dominating 66-39 win over a previously ranked WHEELS team on Sunday at the Brooklyn Bridge Holiday Showcase solidifying Cardozo as they real deal. Saturday will be the next time the Judges hit the floor when they go back to Bowne for the Queens Jam Christmas Classic where they will go up against James Monroe out of the Bronx.

7) Cardinal Hayes (5-3)- A young Cardinals team looks to finally be coming together as even though they fell to a very good Iona Prep team on the road 67-64 on Tuesday, Hayes was able to down Christ the King 83-73 in a game that saw Julien Soumaoro '20 score 31 points to pace the Cardinals to win. Sunday then had Hayes in a bit of a trap game against St. Peter's but the Cardinals led most of the way with their size inside playing a major role in what would be a 70-57 win for Cardinal Hayes. That's it for 2019 for the Cardinals who will enjoy the break now before coming back to action on January 3rd in a very intriguing non-league clash at the Westchester County Center against our #3 team in South Shore.

8) John Bowne (9-1)- With the bright lights shining on the Wildcats this past Tuesday it was the worst possibly time for Tyshawn Trail '21 and the rest of his Bowne team to play their worst game of the season as the Wildcats never led in what would be a 59-52 defeat to Benjamin Cardozo. They did rally later on in the week by easily dispatching of H.S. for Construction 68-40 but there chance to really prove themselves as an elite team in NYC this season went by the wayside. Up next for Bowne will be their Queens Jam Christmas Classic where the Wildcats will take on JFK out of the Bronx on Saturday.

9) Msgr. Scanlan (5-3)- Heading up to Connecticut on Thursday and Saturday to take on two of the Nutmeg State's top teams, Scanlan left having made a very strong statement as they defeated both St. Joseph's (CT) and Trinity Catholic CT) each handily by 20 and 15 points respectively to claim the Trinity Catholic Christmas Classic title. Koby Brea '20 was named MVP of the tournament as he had 21 and 20 points in the pair of games to lead the way for the Crusaders who will get a league game on Monday against Mount St. Michael on the road before heading down to Maryland as another NYC team playing in the Governor's Challenge. On Saturday Scanlan will draw Piedmont Classical of North Carolina before getting Glenleg County of Maryland on Sunday.

10) Thomas Jefferson (5-6)- If anything you have to really give credit to the Orange Wave for continuingly testing themselves against some of the top teams in the nation. This past week saw Jefferson go out to Las Vegas, Nevada to play in the Tarkanian Classic against some of the very best the West Coast has to offer. Jefferson almost pulled a shocker to open the tournament as Jaquan Carlos '21 missed a three to win it at the buzzer with the Orange Wave losing to Fairfax of California 88-86. Skyridge of Utah really took it to them less than 24 hours later with Jefferson losing to them by 18 before the Orange Wave got a win over Westchester of California 59-57. Their run ended with a defeat to St. Augustine of California on Saturday as now it will be rest for Jefferson who will be off until the New Year.

11) Thurgood Marshall Academy (7-1)- After losing their opening game of the year to John Bowne by 40 it could've gone either way for the Panthers as to how the season would play out. Thurgood though never quit and led by Kevin Dinkins '20 have been a surprising team running off 7 straight wins including a 74-66 victory in league play on Thursday over James Monroe, and then it was a big eye opener as the Panthers held on down the stretch to defeat Boys & Girls out of the PSAL Brooklyn AA 63-60 to give Thurgood a marquee victory on their resume which should be a huge benefit to them later on in the season. It will be off now until 2020 for the Panthers who will step back into league play when they take the court again on January 3rd.

12) Boys & Girls (7-3)- There have been a lot of good moments for the Kangaroos this season with a big win over South Shore on the road during the first week of the year, and while they had a chance to knock off Brooklyn Collegiate on Thursday it was Boys & Girls coming up just short as while Khalil Brantley '21 put together another fantastic effort with 38 points, the Kangaroos were a basket away in a 62-60 loss at the buzzer to the Lions. That defeat may have played a role in their play on Sunday at the City Legendz Invitational in the Bronx but it was far from Boys's top flight effort as they went behind early and never could rally back in a 63-60 loss to Thurgood Marshall Academy. Starting on Thursday the Kangaroos will be heading to Georgia to play in the Lee County Classic where the Brooklyn AA power will open with Central H.S. of Macon, GA.

13) Abraham Lincoln (5-5)- Learning how to close out the close ones is next on the agenda for the Railsplitters who have been in every game they have played this season but still have just a .500 record. The week started off with a 67-56 loss to South Shore in a game that saw Lincoln within 4 going into the fourth quarter before seeing the game slip away from them late. A win over George Westinghouse followed on Thursday, but then on Saturday when the Railsplitters hosts Math, Civics, and Sciences out of Pennsylvania it was Deontay Spratley '20 who had 23 points but it was in an 82-77 loss to the Philadelphia area power in a game that Lincoln had the advantage with at the break. The Railsplitters will now head to North Carolina to play in the Hoodie's House National Showcase beginning on Friday where they will open up with Carmel Christian of North Carolina.

14) Bishop Loughlin (4-5)- One of a number of teams who went out of state this past week, the Lions made the trip to Orlando, Florida to play in the The City is Beautiful Invitational. For Loughlin though the play on the court wasn't always beautiful as even though Taj Chiles '20 averaged over 15 points for the four games they played in the Sunshine State they only managed to go 2-2 with wins over a pair of Florida teams in Boone and Bishop Moore, though it was losses to Ocoee of Florida and Prestonwood Christian of Texas that put a dent in their title winning hopes. The Lions are now finished in 2019 with it being 2020 until Bishop Loughlin will see the floor again when they host Christ the King on the 3rd of January.

15) St. Francis Prep (4-2)- It's been some time since the Terriers have graced the New York City rankings but after a fairly strong start to the season here St. Francis Prep is making their season debut. Their two losses are by 3 to Bishop Loughlin and by 5 to Mount St. Michael, with the Terriers leading at halftime in both of those games. This past week they picked up wins over St. Anthony's out of Long Island on the road, and then Half Hollow Hills East in a neutral site game at SUNY Farmingdale. Chance Morrish '22 has been a big early season surprise for the Terriers who lost their leading scorer to transfer before the season, with a lot of young talented players now rising up to the challenge to lead the way. A trip to the Josh Palmer Elmira Holiday Inn Classic will begin for St. Francis Prep starting on Saturday when the Terriers will open up with a perennial Section 5 power in Bishop Kearney.

Class A

1) Benjamin Banneker (10-0)- Rising to the top as our new #1 in Class A are the Warriors are they went to James Madison and got a 99-39 victory on Wednesday before playing a good Beacon team in the Brooklyn Bridge Holiday Classic on Sunday afternoon. That game was a matchup of two of Class A's better teams but with Gabriel Holley '21 leading the way with 23 points after a 40 point game against Madison, it was the Warriors taking a 56-46 contest to ascent themselves to #1. For Benjamin Banneker it will be the Msgr. King Christmas Tournament up next as they will start on Thursday against Port Richmond, with a possible Saturday semifinal matchup against St. Edmund Prep in another battle of Class A contenders.

2) Msgr. Farrell (5-1)- So close to being the #1 team this week were the Lions who on Friday went up against their Class AA Staten Island rivals in St. Peter's. Led by Justin Zieris '20 is looked as if Farrell would pull it out only to see a late Eagles shot sent the game in OT. In the extra session it was all St. Peter's as Msgr. Farrell fell for the first time this season 73-62. They did rally back though with a blowout 72-48 win on Sunday afternoon over Cardinal Spellman in league play. Monday will see an SIHSL game at home against Tottenville before the Lions make the trip to Orlando, Florida for the KSA Holiday Showcase where they will start things off on Friday afternoon with Cass H.S. from Georgia.

3) Murry Bergtraum (9-1)- In league play it was another dominant performance from the Blazers who got 29 points, 19 rebounds, and 15 assists from their star guard Dior Davis '21 in a 110-66 victory on Tuesday over Hunter College High School. Those kind of performances have been par for the course for Davis so far this year as it moved Bergtraum's record to 9-0 on the season before a Sunday non-league showdown with Archbishop Molloy of the CHSAA Class AA Division. For three quarters the Blazers hung tough before ultimately falling 82-55 as Bergtraum just ran out of gas late against their deeper Catholic League foe. Off now will be Murry Bergtraum until 2020 when they get back to action on the 3rd at home against Norman Thomas.

4) Bedford Academy (10-1)- Another strong week's worth of action keeps Bedford in the #4 spot as they rolled past New Utrecht 82-31, then it was a 76-41 win over Bushwick Campus, before downing Sunset Park 77-49 in what was three very easy and comfortably victories for the Panthers over the past seven days. In each of Bedford Academy's games they went to the bench early and often with 4 players hitting double figures in each of their games this week. The Msgr. King Tournament will be next for Bedford as they draw a tough opening round assignment in CHSAA Class AA school Holy Cross on Friday before a semifinal matchup if they win on Sunday against more than likely McKee/Staten Island Tech.

5) KIPP NYC College Prep (9-1)- KIPP opened the week on the road in a battle of Bronx A Central unbeatens as the Bulldogs took on Bronx United. KIPP though jumped out to a 15 point halftime lead and never really looked back as Mohamed Soumahoro '22 had 11 points, 14 rebounds, and 6 blocks to help the Bulldogs to a 67-54 victory. They finished off the week just as strong with another road victory, this time at DeWitt Clinton 68-64 as KIPP NYC College Prep is finding ways to close out games well and get W's early on this season. They did lose to a ranked Class AA team in Mount St. Michael 71-61 but being in that game the way they were shows the team that KIPP is this season. The Bulldogs will next play on Thursday at the Newark Collegiate Holiday Showcase on Thursday in a game against West Orange of New Jersey staying active over the holiday break.

6) St. Edmund Prep (5-1)- The second CHSAA school in the Top Ten, the Eagles were flying high this week as on Tuesday they easily knocked off Nazareth 77-56, and then in an impressive matchup of teams who are considered CHSAA Class A title contenders this season, St. Edmund on Sunday was able to take down LaSalle Academy 70-50 as Shemar Latty '20 had 21 to lead all scorers in the Eagles win that moves their winning streak up now to 4 games heading into Christmas. St. Edmund Prep will play in the Msgr. King Tournament in Brooklyn coming up starting on Thursday as it will be Valley Stream Central of Long Island that opens up the Eagles post-Christmas run.

7) Beacon (13-1)- It was expected to be a tougher league week for the Bulldogs as they went on the road on Thursday to take on a solid Louis Brandeis team. Beacon though made it look easy as Sam Pohlman '21 put together a 22 point and 5 assist performance to lead the Bulldogs to a 66-40 victory. Moving to 13-0 with that win, the Bulldogs on Sunday played in the Brooklyn Bridge Holiday Classic against a very talented Benjamin Banneker team, our new #1. Beacon was in the game for most of 4 quarters as they were within 5 points after three only to fall 56-46. It was Beacon's first loss to the season, and it's their last loss of 2019 as the Bulldogs will now be off until league play picks back up on January 3rd.

8) Graphics Campus (11-1)- In a game that we knew going in would say a lot about what this season's 49ers team is all about, Graphics Campus went on the road on Tuesday and made easy and quick work of Louis Brandeis 76-54 as Joselito Rosario '22 had 18 points to lead them to the win. The 49ers finished off the week with another convincing victory, this time against A. Philip Randolph, with both wins coming on the road in Manhattan A Northwest II play. Going into 2020 on a high and with a ton of confidence, Graphics Campus will next hit the floor on the 3rd when they go back home to host Harlem Village Academy.

9) Msgr. McClancy (6-1)- New to the rankings for the first time in a couple of years are the Crusaders who are now winners of four in a row after their only loss of the season back in the beginning of the month. McClancy had a very strong win this past Tuesday as they hosted Xavier and were able to grind out a 60-59 victory over the Knights. The Crusaders followed that up on Saturday with a much easier 67-42 win over Nazareth to take a good amount of confidence and good feelings into Christmas. There is just one game coming up here now for Msgr. McClancy before 2020 comes as it will be a Sunday home matchup with a solid Class B private school opponent in Martin Luther.

10) Erasmus Hall (9-2)- A surprise team this season out of the Brooklyn A1 League in the PSAL, the Dutchmen are the kings of football in New York City but also now look to be a bit of a basketball power as well as Erasmus won a pair of 30+ point blowout games over Franklin D. Roosevelt and Grand Street Campus this past week to run their impressive league record to 7-1 led by the scoring touch down low of Cosby Napolean '22. Over this Christmas holiday break the Dutchmen will hit the court once going to Queens on Saturday to take part in the Queens Jam Christmas Classic at John Bowne H.S. where Erasmus Hall will face a Bronx AA opponent in Samuel Gompers.

Class B

1) Poly Prep (4-1)- Yes you can look at the fact that Poly Prep lost this week and just judge them off of that, but it's the quality and kind of loss that really is what lifts the Blue Devils up this week. On Sunday led by Max Ragusa '22 it was Poly making easy work of Frederick Douglass Academy at the Brooklyn Bridge Holiday Classic, but it's Saturday's effort that catapults the Blue Devils to #1. Taking on our Class AA #1 team in Brooklyn Collegiate, Poly Prep had a chance to win the game taking the Lions into OT before falling 68-66 though the Blue Devils actually had a final look from outside the arc to win it. It's those kind of performances that will open eyes for Poly Prep who are now off until a home game on the 31st with Telecommunication.

2) Uncommon Charter (11-0)- Among the best in the PSAL in Class B, the Sabers were able to blow out a pair of league foes this past week when they took down William Maxwell 100-18, and then it was a 77-22 victory over Juan Morel Campos. Secondary School as in both games it was Doran Williams leading the way with 25 and 22 points respectively for Uncommon. The Sabers got a bit more of a challenge on Saturday when they hosted Pace, a solid Manhattan Class B PSAL school but it was a defensive clinic in that one as Uncommon Charter took the 46-26 win. The games are now over for 2019 for the Sabers who will not play again until January 7th.

3) Fannie Lou Hamer (11-1)- Unlike most weeks for the Panthers this one was a bit of a grind for Fannie Lou who had a number of games on the docket with none of them proving to be all that easy. It opened with a 75-69 win over a solid Bathgate team on Monday in a game that saw the Panthers rally from a 1 point deficit after three quarters behind the 21 points of Jaelen Bennett '20. Things didn't get easier either as they won two other league matchups by beating Frederick Douglass Academy III 59-54 and Comprehensive Model School 63-59. They were picked off in the non-league on Saturday as well losing for the first time this season to LaSalle Academy, a Class A CHSAA school, 52-49 in the Brooklyn Bridge Holiday Classic. Another team that is off until 2020, Fannie Lou will take on Community Health Academy for the Heights in a non-league battle on the 3rd of January.

4) South Bronx Prep (11-1)- Dispatching easily of Marie Curie School 113-34 was the easy part of the Cougars week as Tuesday's contest was nothing more than a preparation for their Thursday date with Albert Tuitt Educational Campus. That was a game that saw South Bronx Prep down at halftime only to come back late for a 82-73 win that had Steven Turner '21 going off for 45 points, 17 rebounds, and 7 assists in the victory. Sunday will see the Cougars hit the court again in East Orange, NJ when they play in the Tim Thomas Holiday Showcase taking on a strong team from the Garden State in Trenton Central.

5) Brooklyn College Academy (11-1)- Tuesday saw Brooklyn College Academy play host to BCAM in a league matchup pitting the top team teams from a year ago in the Brooklyn B South against each other in a December matchup. This was all Bobcats though as they jumped out to a 19-6 advantage after one and never looked back in an 82-50 win paced by the 28 points of Deon McLaughlin '20. BCA then would add another win over Cobble Hill School to close out 2019 86-37 in a game that McLaughlin added yet another double-double to his tally. That's it for this year for the Bobcats as they wont hit the floor again for game action until 2020.

6) Summit Academy (10-2)- Jumping into the rankings all the way at #6 this week is Summit as they Eagles have some impressive wins to date so far this year over a ranked Class A team in Erasmus Hall, and a solid team out of Staten Island in Port Richmond. This week Clara Barton proved to be no test in a 56-20 easy victory, while Brooklyn Studio Secondary School also struggled with Summit cruising to a 103-35 win. The Eagles went deep to their bench as 11 players scored in their win over Brooklyn Studio with Summit look to be right on track for what should be a very big 2020 when they get back into action.

7) Dalton (8-1)- After falling to Poly Prep in a league contest a couple weeks back, the Tigers have been flawless ever since as they enter the rankings this week after winning the Rye Country Day Holiday Invitational by first downing Berkeley Carroll, and then defeating the home team in Rye Country Day in convincing fashion 67-51. Dalton is definitely clicking offensively on all cylinders after a strong open to the year as they look to be among the best in the NYSAIS Ivy League this season. It won't be until January 6th though that the Tigers are back out on the court as they will step right back into league action with 3 big games that week including a midweek showdown with their Manhattan rivals from Collegiate School.

8) Achievement First (9-3)- Consistently in Class B in the PSAL one of the best conferences year after year is the Brooklyn B East and this season again is no different. Uncommon Charter was up already in the Top Ten and here now in the #8 spot is Achievement First as they have a win out of league against a team we considered for a spot here in Adams Street Academy and this week took care of business in a pair of comfortable wins over The School for Classics and Brooklyn Academy of Global Finanace. Emmanuel Smith '20 led Achievement First in both wins this week as the long forward was able to finish with double-doubles in each victory. The action for them will continue in 2020 when on January 8th they get back to play with a non-league contest against Prospect Heights Campus.

9) Bathgate Educational Complex (10-3)- As one of the more interesting teams to be making their debut this week, Bathgate have an impressive win over a ranked South Bronx Prep team and nearly knocked off Fannie Lou Hamer this week in a tough 6 point loss on the road in a game that saw Michael Boafo '20 finish with 12 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs did this week also defeat both Hyde Leadership and Metropolitan School to get to the 10 win mark on the season, with there next contest not taking place until 2020 when league play swings back into motion for Bathgate again.

10) Riverdale (3-1)- Getting 24 points from Sam Klores '20 in an 80-51 win over Horace Mann on Monday things were looking up for the Falcons going into their road game at Dalton on Wednesday. Unfortunately for them though the defensive intensity wasn't there in what would be a 66-48 loss to the Tigers as Klores again paced the way for Riverdale with 16 points but it wasn't enough to hold off a tough Dalton team that would give the Falcons their first loss of the year. It's now wait until 2020 to get back on the winning track for Riverdale as it won't be until a huge January 10th matchup with our #1 Poly Prep team that the Falcons will see the court again.

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