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Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020: 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

AA 1) Xaverian (11-1)- The Clippers are the new #1 team in NYC in the top classification and are playing some great basketball currently. After defeating St. Francis Prep at home 64-51 on Friday night, Xaverian went to the Bronx on Sunday evening and got 25 points from junior guard Nick Folk '21 to take down a very solid Msgr. Scanlan team 64-52. The pair of wins give the Clippers confidence now heading into a week that will see them home Archbishop Molloy on Tuesday before heading to Queens on Friday to take on Holy Cross. A non-league date with Rome Free Academy out of Section 3 closes out the week on Sunday in a matchup to take place at The Post Invitational in Brooklyn.

2) Benjamin Cardozo (12-0)- It was another easy week for the Judges who maintain their perfect mark on the season with a blowout 81-45 victory on the road over Queens H.S. of Teaching in what was a Friday evening PSAL Queens AA contest. Romello Faison '20 had 17 points to lead Cardozo who will look to keep things going this week with another matchup, this time at home on Monday against QHST before going to Beach Channel on Thursday. A couple non-league contests await on the weekend with the Judges taking on Gompers on Saturday in the Cardozo Classic, and then it's a date with Baldwin out of Long Island on Sunday in the Tip of the Hat Hoops Classic.

3) St. Raymond (8-3)- Even though the week didn't go as planned for St. Raymond it is still obvious the talent that the Ravens have as it was a 1-2 week for the CHSAA Bronx power. They went to New Jersey on New Year's Day to take on Bergen Catholic, one of the Garden State's best, and while they Ravens led 27-7 early on they would lose their grip on the game and falter down the stretch in a 69-67 defeat. A game at Long Island Lutheran followed that on Saturday with the Crusaders proving to be too tough in a 91-64 road loss, though the week was finished off by a 26 point effort from Luis Kortright '20 as St. Raymond defeated Dwight-Englewood (NJ) 79-71 at the Blue Chip Showcase. A massive CHSAA battle on the road against Archbishop Stepinac awaits the Ravens on Friday with the week finishing out on Sunday with another league road game at St. Francis Prep.

4) Brooklyn Collegiate (10-1)- With a number of tests coming up in PSAL Brooklyn AA play this past Sunday's game with WHEELS was not looked upon by many as a game that would challenge the Lions all that much, but a major surprise came when the Wolves pulled off the massive upset of Brooklyn Collegiate at the Real Scout Jamboree 76-70. Amahrie Simpkins '21 had 22 points to lead the way but it wasn't enough as the Lions fell to defeat for the first time this season. Things won't get much easier for Brooklyn Collegiate as Thomas Jefferson makes a trip to them on Tuesday, then it's another tough home date on Thursday with Abraham Lincoln before taking on the top team in Class A in New York State in The Park School on Sunday at The Post Invitational.

5) Boys & Girls (10-4)- Going into their Saturday matchup with one of the top teams in New York State in Class AA in Brentwood at the Shooting Stars Showcase the expectation by many was a loss for the Kangaroos. Things weren't looking that good for much of the second half either for Boys & Girls but a late rally got them within striking distance. The Kangaroos got the ball down by 2 in the closing seconds with a halfcourt heave from Khalil Brantley '21 going off the glass and in at the buzzer to make Boys & Girls 65-64 winners over the Indians. It was a fantastic win for the Kangaroos who will have league games this week with both Abraham Lincoln and Canarsie before a Saturday matchup at The Post Invitational in Brooklyn with one of NY's best in The Park School.

6) South Shore (8-6)- Playing Cardinal Hayes as apart of the Crusaders Classic this past Friday at the Westchester County Center meant another big opportunity for the Vikings to make a statement against one of NYC's best. That's exactly what South Shore did as Marcus Burnett '20 put together a big effort for the Vikings as they held off a late Hayes rally to hold on for a 73-68 victory to continue South Shore's strong play against New York foes. 4 of their 6 losses have come to out of state opposition which is why this week should be a solid week for the Vikings as they will square off with George Westinghouse, Eagle Academy II, and Canarsie in three league games over the coming seven days.

7) John Bowne (11-1)- The Wildcats headed to Manhattan this past Saturday to take on a very good Class B team in Poly Prep at the Real Scout Jamboree. Poly took Brooklyn Collegiate to overtime a couple weeks back now but paced by Tyshawn Trail '21 it was John Bowne opening up a quick 20-5 lead as they never looked back in a commanding and dominating 70-51 victory over the Class B power. It was a strong way for Bowne to open the New Year as now the Wildcats will have a couple league games this week with Beach Channel and Campus Magnet before playing in the Cardozo Classic on Saturday and taking on one of NYC's hottest teams in WHEELS.

8) Cardinal Hayes (6-4)- It was an up and down week for the Cardinals who went to play South Shore on Friday at the Crusaders Classic up at the Westchester County Center. The Cardinals fell in a big hole training by as many as 18 in the opening half before a late rally saw them get the deficit to as small as 3 before falling 73-68 to the Vikings. Shemani Fuller '20 had 33 points in the loss for Cardinal Hayes who came back 24 hours later and handily defeated The Knox School at the Shooting Stars Showcase 73-44. Two CHSAA league games this week will see Hayes visit Mount St. Michael on Tuesday before going to Archbishop Molloy on Friday, and then it will be a Sunday showdown at the Empire Invitational for the Cardinals against Albany Academy, a major Class A power.

9) WHEELS (9-5)- Easily the hottest team in New York City right now, WHEELS was able to dominate the Real Scout Jamboree this weekend as they took on two PSAL Brooklyn AA schools and left with two victories. First on Saturday was an 85-84 victory over a Canarsie team that knocked off Thomas Jefferson just 24 hours previous to their matchup, and then in a major shocker in NYC it was a 76-70 win for the Wolves over previous #1 Brooklyn Collegiate as Justin Soto '20 was a scoring machine all weekend long with his ability to connect from inside and out to lead WHEELS to the Top Ten. Manhattan Center and Gompers await this week in league play for the Wolves before a major Top Ten showdown with John Bowne comes up on Saturday at the intriguing Cardozo Classic.

10) Msgr. Scanlan (7-5)- If you just look at what the Crusaders have on paper they should be one of the best teams in the city, and while they at times show exactly the type of team they could be its inconsistent play that keeps them from rising to the heights they could. Sunday saw Scanlan host Xaverian and while it was close for a quarter it was the Clippers who ran out on a 23-2 run to really end all Crusaders hopes. Scanlan got as close as 10 in the fourth quarter but even with Rodney Bailey '20 scoring 17 points it wasn't enough in a 64-52 loss to our new #1 team. This week will see the Crusaders host two league games over the weekend with Mount St. Michael coming to them on Saturday before a home date with St. Peter's awaits on Sunday.

11) Mount St. Michael (7-2)- Having been in a number of close games this season it's seems winning or losing by a basket has become the norm for the Mountaineers. Saturday at the Shooting Stars Showcase though it was Mount coming up on the right end of a close one as Tyler Hawkins '22 led the Mountaineers with 16 point as to help them to a 44-41 defensive game against St. Anthony's. It was a good result for the Mountaineers who will hope to build off of that solid victory over one of Long Island's best as the week ahead will see Mount St. Michael host Cardinal Hayes in a very intriguing and solid CHSAA league contest on Tuesday before getting Msgr. Scanlan on Saturday, and then St. Dominic out of league on Sunday at the Empire Invitational.


12) Archbishop Molloy (8-2)- Flying under the radar most of the season to date have been the Stanners who after a very difficult season a year ago are one of the young teams to watch this year behind the play of talented freshman Christian Bliss '23. Bliss led the way with 20 points on Friday in a big 76-50 road victory at Holy Cross, and then it was Bliss again along with Mick Browne '20 who had 23 points to lead all scorers in a 69-67 buzzer beating victory over Chaminade on Long Island on Saturday at the Shooting Stars Showcase. That was a marquee level with for Molloy whose slate won't get any easier as they will go to our #1 Xaverian team on Tuesday before hosting Cardinal Hayes and Bishop Loughlin to finish the week out on Friday and Sunday.

13) Canarsie (7-6)- Moving up from being a Class A school a season ago is never easy especially when you are a team like Canarsie who have to jump in to playing in the rough and tough PSAL Brooklyn AA but they are more than handling their own as displayed by a huge 88-85 victory on Friday against perennial power Thomas Jefferson as A'Mag Tate '20 had 26 points while Alpha Bah '21 added 20 points in the win. They did fall in OT just 24 hours later in a thriller to WHEELS 85-84 but the impressive Friday win is enough to vault the Chiefs into the rankings. This coming week will see Canarsie take on Eagle Academy II and Boys & Girls in road league matchups on Tuesday and Thursday before they go to play in The Post Invitational on Sunday against Section 2 power Green Tech.

14) St. Francis Prep (6-4)- For a while it was the Terriers hanging around on Friday against our now #1 Xaverian team as St. Francis Prep was within 6 at the half and were only down 9 going to the fourth quarter, but while the Terriers should be proud of their effort it wasn't enough as they would ultimately fall in Bay Ridge 64-51. It was a defeat but it was certainly one that St. Francis Prep can build upon as a team to watch moving forward in the CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens Diocese. Tuesday will see the Terriers head to Brooklyn once again to take on Bishop Loughlin before a big Sunday home contest with St. Raymond closes out the week for the Terriers who are still looking for that statement making victory.

15) Thurgood Marshall Academy (8-4)- Taking on Harry Truman in their first game back after the Christmas break it was the Panthers who did just enough as John Easley '20 had 18 points and 10 rebounds to lead the way in a 58-53 win for TMA over the Mustangs. Already holding a league victory over WHEELS this season, Thurgood Marshall remain in first place right now in the PSAL Manhattan AA but will need to keep playing to their potential to maintain that hold at the top with games this week ahead against Mott Haven, JFK, and Wings Academy big for the Panthers to prove that they are deserving in maintaining their spot in the New York City rankings.

Class A

1) Benjamin Banneker (12-1)- Losing for the first time on the season were the Warriors as they made it to the Msgr. King Christmas Tournament title game in Brooklyn only to fall to Holy Cross of the Class AA Brooklyn/Queens Diocese 64-54 in a game that saw Banneker's guards really be stifled by the pressure of the Knights. While it was a loss for Banneker the fact that they fell to a Class AA team, and were tied at the half has us keep them in the top spot this week. Things won't get much easier for them this week though as Banneker gets Grand Street Campus on Monday, then it's a Robeson and Tilden on Wednesday and Friday, before a big date with our #2 KIPP NYC College Prep team at the PSAL Class A Division Showcase.

2) KIPP NYC College Prep (12-1)- It wasn't easy for KIPP when they went to Barclays Center this past Friday to play Harry Van Arsdale but good teams find ways to get the job

done which is exactly what you can say happened for the Bulldogs as Damir Brooks '20 had 19 points, including two big buckets down the stretch, to lead KIPP to a 58-57 hard fought win at the home of the Brooklyn Nets. As tough a way to start 2020 as possible, the Bulldogs will get back into league play three times this week when they play Taft, Adlai Stevenson, and Evander Childs on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and then it will be two more non-leagues on Saturday and Sunday against our #1 Class A team in Banneker and Francis Lewis of the PSAL Queens AA to really test KIPP this week.

3) Bedford Academy (13-2)- As high scoring and potent an offense as you will find, the Panthers came into 2020 with a big time performance against Boerum Hill on Friday as Ethan Edwards '20 had 27 points to pace a 102-70 win for Bedford. Three other Panthers players made it to the double figures mark including Jordan Newsome '21 who had 18 points and 11 rebounds. It will be a busy week coming up for Bedford Academy as well as on Wednesday they will go to Brooklyn Law & Tech before hosting Millennium on Friday. Saturday will then see the Panthers play in The Post Invitational will a non-league matchup against Mekeel Christian Academy out of Section 2.

4) St. Edmund Prep (7-3)- Hosting what many considered to be the best team in the CHSAA Class A Division on Friday in Msgr. Farrell, the Eagles put the rest of the league on notice as Shemar Latty '20 had 24 points to lead all scorers in helping St. Edmund to a 67-66 home OT victory over the Lions. It was as strong a second half effort as the Eagles could've hoped for as they rallied from a halftime deficit to come back and come away with the victory. A couple more home league contests are up next this week with Xavier coming to Brooklyn on Tuesday in a battle of ranked teams before a Friday contest where the Eagles will host Msgr. McClancy.

5) Msgr. Farrell (9-2)- Coming home after winning the KSA Holiday Tournament in Florida where they defeated another New York team in New Rochelle for the championship, it was the Lions going to Brooklyn on Friday to take on St. Edmund Prep in a marquee battle of top Class A schools. Farrell behind the 22 points of Justin Zieris '20 looked to be in control early on but the Eagles regained the lead late and were able to shock Farrell 67-66 in OT to hand them their first league loss of the year. It was a disappointing result for Farrell who will now look to regroup this week when they face off against Msgr. McClancy, then it's a pair of road games to close things out with a trip to Nazareth set for Friday, and then it's to the Bronx to take on Fordham Prep on Sunday.

6) Murry Bergtraum (10-2)- Going up to Albany to take on Class A power Albany Academy was not any easy task, and while Bergtraum made it look semi-close late it was really all Cadets as Dior Davis '21 did all he could for the Blazers but the hosts proved to be far too tough in a 94-73 loss for Murry Bergtraum. Against PSAL Manhattan A competition it's been the Blazers making things look easy which is why league games this week against East Harlem Pride and Washington Irving shouldn't prove to be much of an issue, though Saturday's contest with Rome Free Academy out of Section 3 in The Post Invitational definitely looks to be a game to watch.

7) Beacon (14-1)- In the Blue Demons first game of 2020 they played host to Percy Sutton in league play on Friday. It was a tougher game than many probably expected with Beacon leading throughout just by single digits but when push came to shove it was Samuel Pohlman '21 coming up biggest as 11 of his 18 points came in the second half to help the Blue Demons to a 61-56 victory. It may not have been pretty but Beacon once again got the job done with league games this week against Harlem Village Academy and Fiorello LaGuardia, with non-league games mixed in on Wednesday at Fort Hamilton, and then on Saturday at The Post Invitational against top NYC Class B team Achievement First.

8) Graphics Campus (13-1)- Coming into the New Year in style, Graphics Campus hosted Harlem Village Academy on Friday and made easy work of them with the 49ers rolling to an 84-52 victory as Damani Claxton '20 had 23 points and 11 assists in a great individual performance to pace Graphics. With their only loss coming back in November to our #7 Beacon team the 49ers will look to stay perfect this week against H.S. for Environmental Studies in a league game on Friday, but before and after will be non-league contest with one at home against Walton from the Bronx coming on Wednesday, and then it will be a date with Midwood on Saturday at the PSAL A Division Showcase.

9) Erasmus Hall (10-2)- Over the past seven days the Dutchmen have been off preparing for what will be a busy and tough start to the 2020 campaign. They closed out 2019 strong though with a Class AA victory over Samuel Gompers at the Queens Jam Christmas Classic and led by Cosby Napolean '22 it will be a solid three game slate to open this year with a pair of league games on the road set for Wednesday and Friday against Dr. Susan McKinney and Harry Van Arsdale before a matchup with another Class AA opponent in H.S. for Construction on Sunday at the loaded field of The Post Invitational.

10) Xavier (7-2)- Entering the rankings this week are the Knights who went out to Arizona over the holiday's and came back winners of the Cactus Jam Holiday Classic. They got three impressive wins over teams from Arizona, Washington, Pennsylvania en route to the title. Blair Thompson '21 was named Tournament MVP as the junior averaged over 18 points per game over the tournament to lead Xavier to the championship. It's back to the grind of league play now for the Knights who this week will have a pair of tough road games against St. Edmund Prep on Tuesday before going to their Manhattan rivals from LaSalle on Friday to finish out a two game week.

Class B

1) Uncommon Charter (12-0)- For the first time this season the Ahzariah Douglas '20 led Sabers take their place at the #1 spot in this week's Class B rankings. As complete a team as you will find, Uncommon are just continuing to build off of what was a great season a year ago as they are pushing themselves into the category of clear favorites in the PSAL B Division this season. It's more than just Douglas that's carrying the Sabers this season, and while they have been off now for a couple of weeks the action will get underway again on Tuesday with a road game at Spring Creek Campus. Another road game will follow that on Thursday at Brooklyn Academy of Global Finance before a tough non-league game at The Post Invitational awaits on Saturday against a Class AA power from the Capital Region in Green Tech.

2) Brooklyn College Academy (12-1)- We mentioned here last week that a road game against Adams Street Academy was going to tell us a lot about just how good this season's Bobcats team was. They passed that tough test with flying colors proving that BCA is no doubt for real this season as Deon McLaughlin '20 continues to show he is among Class B's best talents with a 31 point, 10 rebound game in the Bobcats 71-59 win over Adams. Wednesday will see another very tough contest though for Brooklyn College Academy as they will host our #4 Summit Academy team before finishing the week out on Friday on the road against Clara Barton.

3) Poly Prep (5-2)- After giving Brooklyn Collegiate all they could handle in an OT loss a couple weeks back, the Blue Devils got another chance to prove themselves against a big time Class AA opponent this past Saturday at the Real Scout Jamboree when they took on John Bowne. This time it was all Bowne though as the AA team got out in front quickly and never gave Poly Prep a chance to get back in the game as even with Max Ragusa '22 scoring 19 points it was the Wildcats who knocked off the Blue Devils 70-51. It's back to Class B competition now this week as on Wednesday it will be Poly going on the road to face CHSAA foe Regis before a big home date on Friday night against their big Ivy League rivals in Riverdale.

4) Summit Academy (13-4)- Friday saw Summit return to action as the 2020 part of their season got underway with a home game against East New York Family Academy. Jordan Council '20 put up a season high 30 points though, with Donte Howard '20 adding 22 points of his own as the Eagles won a high scoring 87-71 affair over ENY. An extremely potent offense, Summit will look to keep that play going when on Wednesday they hit the road for quite possibly their biggest game of the season when they take on our #2 Brooklyn College Academy team in a game with major playoff implications out of the PSAL Brooklyn B West Division.

5) South Bronx Prep (11-2)- While most teams are getting into the meat of their league play slate starting this week, the Cougars are a bit of a different case as they will still wait until the 15th to take the court again meaning almost a month between PSAL Bronx B3 league contests. It's a bit of a quirk in the scheduling this season for the Steven Turner '21 led team that still has some big matchups to come this season against the likes of Jane Addams, Lehman, and Class AA Bronx school James Monroe, a team that South Bronx Prep defeated during the regular season a year ago.

6) Dalton (8-1)- The last time anyone saw the Tigers on the hardwood it was just before Christmas when they were defeating both Berkeley Carroll and Rye Country Day to win the Rye Country Day Holiday Tournament. It was a great way to go into the break but now it's time to get back to business for one of the team's expected to compete for the Ivy League and NYSAIS Class B titles this season. Friends Seminary on the road is first up on Monday for Dalton, with three more awaiting after that on Wednesday against Collegiate, Friday at home against Dwight, and then a Saturday afternoon meeting with Trinity in a busy four game week for the Tigers.

7) Achievement First (9-3)- After what had to be considered something of a slow start to the year, Achievement has turned things up with a great finish to 2019 as they made quick work of their last three league opponents in winning by an averaging of 42 points in the final three games of the year. Nyah Sam '20 has been Achievement First's go to player all season long and the start of their 2020 schedule should be no different as this week it will be 4 big games for Sam and his team with Teachers Prep up first at home on Tuesday, then it's two more home games with Prospect Heights out of league on Wednesday before another league date on Thursday with Science Skills Center, and then on Saturday to finish the week it will be a game at The Post Invitational against Class A power Beacon to surely test this Achievement First team.

8) Academy of American Studies (9-2)- We welcome the Eagles into the rankings for the first time this season as they put together a statement road victory just before 2019 ended as American Studies went on the road and knocked off Maspeth 47-40 behind the 20 points and 13 rebounds of senior big man Amit Singh '20. It was a win that puts the Eagles in firm possession of first place in the PSAL Queens B West, and with games to come this Tuesday on the road at Baccalaureate School for Global Education, and on Thursday at home against Academy for Careers in Television and Film, it's just a couple more opportunities for the Eagles to flex their muscles the favorites in their division.

9) Riverdale (8-1)- Heading down to the Sunshine State for the Rock Holiday Classic this past weekend, the Falcons proved to be the best of the best by defeating Orangewood Christian of Florida 67-57 in the quarterfinals, then it was a 53-47 win over St. John Paul II of Florida in the semifinals, before getting a thrilling OT victory over Madison Southern of Kentucky for the championship. Sam Klores '20 was named Tournament MVP while Reid Slott '20 was named to the All-Tournament Team as well. The trip to Florida and the tournament title has to give Riverdale a ton of confidence coming back to New York where they will get back going on Friday with a massive road Ivy League contest against a strong Poly Prep team in one of the sure fire Game's of the Week.

10) Maspeth (9-3)- Losing just before Christmas to Academy of American Studies in Queens B West league play was not the result that the Argonauts wanted but if anything maybe it was a bit of a wake up call for Maximillan Egner '20 and his Maspeth team as last Monday they played host out of league to longtime Class B power Fannie Lou Hamer, and from start to finish it was all Egner as the senior had 29 points to nearly outscore Fannie Lou by himself in an impressive 53-30 win for the Argonauts. That victory will give Maspeth confidence as it's back to league play for them with a road game on Tuesday at Academy for Careers in Television and Film getting their 2020 run started before a Thursday home date with Frank Sinatra School of the Arts ends a two game week for the Argonauts.

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