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Tuesday, Dec. 31, 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 a grueling early season schedule that saw the Lions gets wins over everyone and anyone in the PSAL Brooklyn AA it was a week off for Brooklyn Collegiate for them to get into the gym, get fully healthy, and prepare for what will be a very tough upcoming schedule. Led by Majesty Johnson '20 at the lead guard position it's going to be a matchup with WHEELS of Manhattan this coming Sunday at the Real Scout New Year's Jamboree in what will be the Lions first game in 14 days as they get back to action.

2) St. Raymond (7-1)- Going down to Delaware this past Friday and Sunday to take part in the Slam Dunk to the Beach Tournament meant facing off against one of the Diamond State's best in Cape Henlopen on Friday, before an NY vs. NJ battle on Sunday with Gill St. Bernard's on Sunday. Both were all Ravens though as Malachi Smith '21 led St. Ray's in scoring in both games as they defeated their foes from Delaware 93-36 before making equally as quick work of Gill St. Bernard's 75-45. New Year's Day will see the Ravens make a road trip to take on Bergen Catholic of NJ before two more tough ones over the week see St. Raymond go to Long Island Lutheran on Saturday, before a Sunday date with Dwight-Englewood of NJ in a New Jersey Showcase event.

3) South South (7-5)- Having been off since their December her 21st defeat in the Emerald Coast Super 16 Classic title game to Memphis East of Tennessee, the Vikings are ready and raring to get back on the court with a Monday matchup at the Governor's Challenge in Maryland against a very good Rock Creek Christian team of MD. 3 of South Shore's 5 losses have to out of state foes, while their other two were league games they lost to teams by single digits with the Vikings still considered among NYC's elite. Outside of Monday's game the Vikings will also take on Cardinal Hayes on Friday night as apart of the Crusaders Classic at the Westchester County Center.

4) Xaverian (9-1)- While maybe not the prettiest performance in the world it was the Clippers getting back to CHSAA league play this past Sunday and taking a 45-37 road victory over Christ the King with Elijah Hardison '20 controlling the paint against a small Royals team for the win. That victory gives Xaverian a bit of a cushion in the CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens Division with them now holding win over both CTK and Bishop Loughlin. There are two more league games on tap this week for the Clippers as they will host a strong St. Francis Prep squad on Friday before a trip to the Bronx on Sunday afternoon to take on a tough and improving Msgr. Scanlan team.

5) Benjamin Cardozo (10-0)- It's been as impressive a start to the season for the Judges as they could've hoped for as the inside duo of Errol White '20 and Aaron Miller '20 have really come together for a Cardozo team that remained perfect this past week after a 55-44 victory at the Queens Jam Christmas Classic over James Monroe of the Bronx. Things won't get much easier the rest of the week though as on Monday it will be Cardozo heading over the bridge into New Jersey to play in the Tim Thomas New Jersey Hoops Showcase where they will square off with a solid Montclair team from New Jersey before getting back into PSAL Queens league play on Friday on the road against Queens H.S. of Teaching.

6) Cardinal Hayes (5-3)- Another team that was off for the past week, the Cardinals art a young group this year outside of their two senior starters with most not having a ton of varsity experience so the time in the gym preparing for 2020 has to have been considered beneficial for this group of Cardinal Hayes. Things won't be very easy when they new year starts as on Friday the Cardinals will head to the Westchester County Center to face off against South Shore in the Crusaders Classic as part of a big doubleheader there with Hayes coming back 24 hours later to play in the Shooting Stars Classic out on Long Island where they will go up against a young but solid team from The Knox School.

7) John Bowne (9-1)- After a surprising loss just before Christmas to Cardozo the Wildcats responded with a convincing 74-53 win over JFK at their Queens Jam Christmas Classic that Bowne hosts every year. Tyshawn Trail '21 led all scorers with 19 points for John Bowne who get back on the winning track as they prepare to get back into league play with a Friday evening road tilt at Martin Van Buren to get things going again. That's one of two games this week as the other will see the Wildcats head into Manhattan to play our top Class B team in Poly Prep in the Real Scout New Year's Jamboree on Saturday

8) Msgr. Scanlan (7-4)- The Crusaders went down to the Washington D.C. area for a pair of games at the Governor's Challenge just after Christmas, opening the tournament by losing on a buzzer beater to Piedmont Classical of North Carolina 79-77 as Scanlan rallied back from a deficit to tie the game up in the final seconds only to be done in on a runner at the buzzer. They came back the next day though and came out on the right end of a 63-50 outing against Glenelg County of Maryland with Joe Munden '20 putting together a double-double with 21 points and 11 rebounds for the Crusaders. A Sunday matchup back in league play with Xaverian in a battle of two of the CHSAA's best is next on tap in an intriguing showdown.

9) Thomas Jefferson (5-6)- Playing one of the more brutal and challenging schedules that you will find, Jefferson has travelled all over the country so far in 2019 and because of the battles game after game that they have faced it's been a bit of an underwhelming start to the year but if you look at just what Jaquan Carlos '21 and the Orange Wave have done in PSAL Brooklyn AA play it's easy to understand why they are a Top Ten team. It's back to league play this week as Jefferson will go to Canarsie for a Friday evening matchup before again hitting the road on Sunday to take on their longtime rivals in Abraham Lincoln.

10) Mount St. Michael (6-2)- Leading by 18 at the half and 13 after three quarters last Monday against Msgr. Scanlan at home, it seemed like there was little doubt that the Mountaineers were on their way to a big league victory. That all went away though as Mount St. Michael struggled mightily as the final stanza went on and found themselves ultimately on the losing end of a 65-62 defeat to the Crusaders. Tyler Hawkins '22 had 16 in the loss for Mount who would rally on Friday to hold off a stingy Truman team in a non-league contest 61-56. Saturday will be the Mountaineers only game of this week when they go to Long Island to take on St. Anthony's in the opening game of the Shooting Stars Classic.

11) Boys & Girls (9-4)- Even when far away from home it's always the Khalil Brantley '21 show as the ultra talented scoring guard was one of the top performers at the Lee County Roundball Classic down in Georgia helping the Kangaroos to victories over both Central (GA) and Monroe (GA). The junior had over 30 points in both games to lead Boys & Girls into the title game against Eagles Landing of Georgia. Trailing by 12 at the half, the Kangaroos rallied behind Brantley who finished the championship game with 32 points but would fall 63-59 one win short of the title. On Saturday the Kangaroos will play a little closer to home when in the Shooting Stars Classic on Long Island they will play one of LI's best in Brentwood.

12) Bishop Loughlin (4-5)- Having been off since they won the final game of The City is Mine Invitational in Orlando, Florida just before Christmas, the Lions are raring to go now for league play as paced by the dynamic backcourt duo of Taj Chiles '20 and Maurice Doby '20 it will be a big home date on Friday night against Christ the King for Loughlin who will continue to play for head coach Ed Gonzalez who is recuperating still from his illness. That is the only game of the week for Bishop Loughlin but it could be a real tone setter for a team that doesn't have a ton of experience, but should only be getting better and better.

13) Thurgood Marshall Academy (7-3)- Post Christmas non-league dates weren't kind to Thurgood Marshall as they played in showcases and in both instances ended up taking on the home team. On Friday the Panthers went to Marist in New Jersey for their Holiday Showcase, and against Marist in a high scoring affair the play of Kevin Dinkins '20 wasn't enough as TMA fell to their Garden State foes 82-67. A similar situation played out on Sunday as well when Thurgood Marshall playing in the New York Holiday Invitational against St. Anthony's out at the Friars school. The Panthers hung around for a while on the road but again fell 78-60 in a winless week. Back to league play on Friday, it will be TMA going on the road to take on Harry Truman.

14) St. Francis Prep (5-3)- The Terriers went on the road to Elmira to play in the Josh Palmer Fund Elmira Holiday Inn Classic against some of the top programs from Upstate, NY and other parts from across the United States. With a young but talented team St. Francis Prep would dominate in their opener as they rolled past a shorthanded Bishop Kearney 58-34 to get a top team from Ohio in Painesville-Harvey in the semifinals. While SFP led most of the way, they relinquished the lead midway through the fourth and couldn't recover in a 42-38 losing scoring loss. Monday will see them play in the 3rd Place Game against Bishop McDevitt of Pennsylvania going on the league in league play to take on Xaverian on Friday.

15) Holy Cross (4-4)- For the first time this season we welcome Holy Cross into the rankings in our final AA spot as the Knights have been close to knocking off a couple ranked teams early on this season as they fell 51-49 to Mount St. Michael a couple weeks back while also falling to Bishop Loughlin by just three as well in a 68-65 defeat. The Knights also made a trip to Buffalo and gave Canisius their biggest test to date in a 59-57 loss. All Holy Cross needs is to find a way to get over the top in the close ones more often like they did earlier this year in a 2 point win over Christ the King on the road. Having knocked off both Bedford Academy and McKee/Staten Island Tech in the first two round of the Msgr. King Christmas Tournament in Brooklyn, the Knights will take on our #1 Class A team in Benjamin Banneker on Monday for the title before getting back to league action on Friday night at home against Archbishop Molloy.


Class A

1) Benjamin Banneker (12-0)- The final week of the 2019 year has been strong so far for the Warriors who have made quick work of their opening two round foes at the Msgr. King Christmas Tournament in Brooklyn. They defeated Port Richmond by 35 to open things in the quarterfinals before getting one of the best in Class A this season in the CHSAA in St. Edmund Prep. Banneker got a double-double inside from Tyler Gordon '20 though, along with great guard play from just about everyone on the Warriors roster led by Gabriel Holley '21 in what would be a 65-48 victory. The title game for the tournament will be on Monday evening with Banneker meeting CHSAA Class AA school Holy Cross for the championship in what will be there only game of the week.

2) Msgr. Farrell (8-1)- Leaving the cold weather behind, the Lions went down to sunny Orlando, Florida this past week to

play in the KSA Holiday Showcase. The event got underway on Friday with convincing 61-44 victory over a solid Cass team out of Florida. 24 hours later it was an even more dominant performance as Justin Zieris '20 scored 25 points to lead Farrell to an 81-50 semifinals victory over Poolville from Texas. The title game was on Monday morning against another New York team in Class AA school out of Section 1 in New Rochelle with the two schools meeting 1,500 miles from home before Msgr. Farrell comes back to CHSAA league play on Friday when they will go to Brooklyn to take on St. Edmund Prep.

3) Murry Bergtraum (9-1)- There were no games on the docket this past week for Bergtraum who have continually tested themselves out of league this year. Led by Dior Davis '21 who is averaging a triple-double so far this season after averaging one for the season last year for the Blazers as a sophomore, Bergtraum look to be in prime position for big things going forward the rest of the way as they get back to action for the first time in a couple weeks on Friday when they will host a Norman Thomas team looking to shock the PSAL Manhattan A1 Division and pull the upset.

4) KIPP NYC College Prep (11-1)- It was a successful trip to New Jersey for the Bulldogs who went to play in the Newark Collegiate Holiday Classic on Thursday and Saturday and eventually brought the title back to the Bronx. They first knocked off West Orange in a thriller 55-53 in a game that saw Amar Ndiaye '20 score 16 to lead the way in the come from behind victory after KIPP trailed by 4 going to the fourth. The home team Newark Collegiate was the opponent for the title and it was a big double-double inside from Mohamed Soumahoro '22 with 14 pints and 13 rebounds that would pace the way in a dominating 65-34 win for KIPP whose only loss remains to Class AA ranked school Mount St. Michael. Friday will see the Bulldogs take on Harry Van Arsdale in a non-league date at the Barclays Center in bright lights big court game.

5) Bedford Academy (11-2)- Drawing one of the better teams in Holy Cross to start the Msgr. King Christmas Tournament was a bit of a bad break for Bedford who may have been a title contender had they drawn an easier first round game, but even so Ethan Edwards '20 would nearly lead the Panthers to the win anyway as he had 38 points though they came up just short in a 77-74 loss to the Knights in 3OT's. Bedford would an easy victory in their consolation game against Newtown and will now draw Valley Stream Central in the 5th Place Game of the tournament on Monday before going back into league play on Friday evening at home against Boerum Hill.

6) Beacon (13-1)- There were no games this past week for a Blue Demons team that has been very busy this season having already played 14 games before the start of 2020. Led by junior shooter Sam Pohlman '21 and big man Theo Ghartley '20 inside, Beacon have been a team that has hurt their Manhattan A Northwest-II opponents both in the paint and on the perimeter making them a very difficult team to contain wherever they decide to attack. There only loss for far this season was a 10 point defeat to out #1 Banneker team with the Blue Demons getting back to action this week with a Friday contest at home against Percy E. Sutton.

7) Graphics Campus (11-1)- Playing in the same PSAL Manhattan A Northwest-II league as Beacon, the 49ers had the holiday's off to rest and get themselves ready for what will surely be a busy January ahead as they already this year have gotten strong outings from the likes of Damani Claxton '20, who is averaging near 24 points per game, and Joselito Rosario '22 who is a promising young sophomore averaging 17 points per. The action will get back going for Graphics Campus this Friday when they host Harlem Village Academy back in league play with the date January 13th surely circled on their calendar for their return match on the road at Beacon after falling to the Bulldogs by 8 earlier this season.

8) St. Edmund Prep (6-2)- Taking their opening game of the Msgr. King Christmas Tournament with relative ease over Valley Stream Central by a 72-41 score in a game that saw Shemar Latty '20 score 28 and dish out 8 assists, the Eagles got our #1 Benjamin Banneker team in the semifinals. It was a close game for half with St. Edmund trailing by just 3 at the break, but the second half saw more pressure applied and Banneker pull away to defeat the Eagles 65-48. That pushed St. Edmund Prep into Monday's 3rd Place Game where they will take on McKee/Staten Island Tech before going back into CHSAA play on Friday for a big top of the table contest at home against Msgr. Farrell.

9) Msgr. McClancy (7-1)- Hosting Class B private school Martin Luther on Sunday afternoon had the Crusaders come back from an 8 day layoff to lead from start to finish in a 79-66 victory for McClancy to send them into 2020 playing great basketball and ready to prove themselves as among the best in the CHSAA this season. Before CHSAA play gets underway though it's the Crusaders heading down south to the Sunshine and Miami, Florida to take part in the Belen Jesuit Holiday Showcase which gets underway Thursday. They will face the home team on Thursday, Msgr. Pace of Florida on Friday, and then St. John's Jesuit of Ohio on Saturday in a three games in three days tournament in the warm temperatures.

10) Erasmus Hall (10-2)- The Dutchmen made the short trip from Brooklyn to Queens on Saturday to play in the Queens Jam Christmas Classic to take on Bronx AA school Samuel Gompers. Behind the play of Wayne Longmore '21 and Chris Erskine-Gidding '22 who each had 14 points it was a great afternoon of play for Erasmus who got the Class AA win they craved with a 56-52 win over Gompers. That win should give the Dutchmen a lot of momentum to build with the rest of the way as even though they will be off the rest of this week you can expect a busy schedule for much of the year after that moving forward for a still improving Erasmus Hall team.

Class B

1) Poly Prep (4-1)- After nearly shocking New York City basketball circles with an OT loss to our Class AA #1 school Brooklyn Collegiate just before Christmas the Blue Devils a have been off since as they get back to work in the gym preparing for what will be a busy and tough Ivy League schedule ahead. Before Max Ragusa '22 and the rest of the Poly Prep team get back to league play though they will take on Eagle Academy II at home in a non-league clash on Tuesday afternoon before a Saturday afternoon date at the Real Scout New Year's Jamboree against another top AA team in John Bowne with a couple more chances here for major statement victories.

2) Uncommon Charter (12-0)- So far it's been a perfect season for the Sabers who have one of the best players in the PSAL on their side in Ahzariah Douglas '20 who this season is averaging 20 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 assists a game as one of the top all around performers that anyone will see in New York City. They have some tough non-league games that will challenge them in the weeks to come that everyone should be on the lookout for, but for this week it's continued time in the gym before hitting the hardwood for games again starting on Tuesday the 7th.

3) Fannie Lou Hamer (11-1)- Falling in their final game before Christmas to LaSalle Academy of the CHSAA Class A Division 52-49, Fannie Lou, paced by Anthony Rose '20 who recently went over the 1,000 career points mark, will get back to action on Monday afternoon with a tricky road game in non-league play against Maspeth, with another tough non-league game to come after that in Manhattan against Commnity Heights Academy of the Heights. Those two tests finish out this week before league play gets underway beginning for good on Tuesday.

4) Brooklyn College Academy (11-1)- With another of impressive wins on the resume so far this season over the likes of Bronx School for Law, Government, and Justice, Medgar Evers, and BCAM, things will only get more difficult and tough for Deon McLaughlin '20 and the rest of his Bobcat teammates. They will head on the road on Friday to play Adams Street Academy, a team strongly considered for the Top Ten in Class B this week, with a win there for Brooklyn College Academy truly solidifying themselves as a no doubt title contender in the PSAL this season.

5) Summit Academy (11-4)- Another team with an impressive early season resume are the Eagles who have a win over a ranked Class A team in Eramsus Hall. They went down to North Carolina over the holidays and while they went 1-2 during their three games competed strong and nearly knocked off a very good and unbeaten Woodbury Forest team out of Virginia. Nick Mickens '20 is the leader of what is a very veteran group from Summit Academy who again look poised for a big PSAL run after testing themselves in the non-league with East New York Family Academy coming to them on Friday evening as the Eagles get back to league action.

6) South Bronx Prep (11-2)- When it comes to league action there may not be a more potent team offensively than the defending PSAL Class B champions in South Bronx Prep. Steven Turner '21 is one of the more dynamic backcourt weapons as he is nearly averaging a triple-double as he is as good a playmaker and facilitator as he is a scorer. The Cougars nearly knocked off one of New Jersey's better teams in the southern part of the state in Trenton losing by just 8 at the Tim Thomas New Jersey Hoops Showcase on Saturday showing that even out of conference and against top flight competition South Bronx Prep can compete with anyone. It's a week off coming up here again for the Cougars who get back to action next on the 15th.

7) Dalton (8-1)- As good of a close to the 2019 calendar year as the Tigers could've hoped for when just before Christmas they defeated both Berkeley Carroll and Rye Country day on back to back days to win the Rye Country Day Holiday Classic. It was a great momentum boost as Dalton's only defeat so far this season was to the #1 team in Class B in Poly Prep. They will be off now the rest of this week as well though beginning this time next week it will be busy, busy, busy for Dalton as they will be taking on some of the top teams in Class A and Class B in and out of league play from here on out.

8) Achievement First (9-3)- With their three losses coming to teams all of whom are ahead of them in the rankings or in a higher classification, it's been a very solid beginning to this season for Achievement First as they hung tough earlier this year on the road at Boys & Girls only falling 75-66 to the Class AA school. They are paced and led by Emmanuel Smith '20 who is an active and lanky big man inside, while Nyah Sam '20 has a 35 point game on his resume so far this season and is averaging over 16 points per game as well. Achievement First will be off until next Tuesday and will be staying in the gym preparing for a tough and busy slate ahead.

9) Bathgate Educational Complex (10-3)- Bathgate is another team that has had off for a while now and will continue to sit until this time next week. In between games it will be three weeks off for the Bulldogs which could mean that Jeffrey Agyeman '20, Michael Boafo '20 and the rest of the Bathgate team may be a bit rusty out of the gate when they do get back to playing in games starting on Tuesday, January 7th, but with the amount of talent they have you can expect them to get back in the groove quick and be a major force in the PSAL the rest of the season.

10) Riverdale (3-1)- With Brown commit Sam Klores '20 leading the way alongside with Noah Seeherman '20 it's one of the better backcourts that you will see in the prestigious Ivy League. They like many of the other teams in Class B have had off for a bit here and won't play again until January 10th when they have what may be the game of the year in Class B against Poly Prep on the road giving Riverdale a good amount of time to prepare and get ready for what will be a stiff challenge, but not one that the Falcons will find overwhelming as it will certainly be a must see contest between two of NYSAIS's best.

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