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Tuesday, Feb. 11, 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

1) Benjamin Cardozo (24-0)- Perfect is the only word to describe the Judges regular season as Cardozo was able to close things out on an unbeaten note when they went to Francis Lewis and took an early lead and never really looked back in what was a 56-42 victory. Errol White '20 put together a double-double inside for Cardozo who are now the #1 seed in the PSAL Queens Borough Playoffs and will open things up there on Tuesday with a quarterfinal matchup against either H.S. for Construction or Forest Hills in their quest to remain undefeated on the year.

2) St. Francis Prep (14-6)- When the season began not many could have pegged the Terriers to be among the best in New York City yet here we are. Friday saw the second installment of the season of the Battle of the Boulevard as St. Francis Prep went on the road this time to take on Holy Cross. Latiek Briscoe '22 had yet another clutch fourth quarter against the school just 2 miles away as he helped the Terriers overcome an early final stanza deficit to win their 7th in a row, 46-44. It won get much easier now for SFP as on Tuesday they will host Iona Prep, then it's another home game on Friday with Molloy, before going on the road on Saturday to take on Msgr. Scanlan.

3) St. Raymond (17-4)- Everything was looking great for the Ravens who while still among the best of the best in NYC fell for the first time in 11 games when on Sunday they lost on a buzzer beater on the road to Msgr. Scanlan 70-69. St. Raymond also had wins this week in blowout fashion over both Mount St. Michael and Iona Prep by 20+ points each, but the loss means the Ravens fall one spot this week. St. Ray's will look to get back on the winning track on Tuesday when they host Xaverian but another big game closes the week on Sunday when St. Raymond goes to Queens to take on a much improved Christ the King team.

4) South Shore (16-8)- Going on the road in the Brooklyn AA is never an easy task but the Vikings were able to squeak one out to close out regular season play this past Tuesday when South Shore got 18 points from Dontae Prescott '20 in what was a 66-63 win over Canarsie. The win ensured South Shore the #2 seed in the PSAL Brooklyn Borough Playoffs as they will next play on Tuesday in the quarterfinals against the winner of Monday's game between Bedford Academy and Eagle Academy III. A win there puts them in Thursday's semifinals with a Saturday title game appearance a definite possibility.

5) John Bowne (18-3)- While it was far from easy the Wildcats got just enough from lead guard Amadou Diallo '21 as he had 16 points, including 7 in the fourth quarter to help John Bowne close out the regular season on a good note with a 44-43 comeback victory on Tuesday over H.S. for Construction on the road. With just 3 overall defeats on the season, Bowne will enter the PSAL Queens Borough Playoffs as one of the team's no one wants to face as they will begin their run on Tuesday with a matchup between either Eagle Academy III or Epic South in the quarterfinals before the rest of the contests in borough play continue on Thursday and Saturday to determine a borough champion.


6) Cardinal Hayes (13-8)- A two game week meant two wins for the Cardinals this past week as they were able to pull away in the second half from Murry Bergtraum in a non-league contest to take a 74-57 victory before a strong CHSAA win came on Friday when Hayes was able to make quick work of Bishop Loughlin 68-49 as Shemani Fuller '20 was a massive force inside in both contests securing 29 and 24 points in the Cardinals two wins this past week. Coming up here this week will see Hayes with two home league games on Tuesday and Friday against Mount St. Michael and Iona Prep respectively.

7) Boys & Girls (17-6)- Hitting the road this past Tuesday were the Kangaroos as they went to Brooklyn Collegiate with the #1 seed in the PSAL Brooklyn Borough Playoffs on the line, and with Khalil Brantley '21 doing it again to the tune of 37 points including a game winning three at the buzzer it was Boys & Girls taking the 66-63 road win, and the top seed in the upcoming boroughs. Being the #1 seed means on Tuesday they will open the borough playoffs against the winner of Monday's game between Class B power Uncommon Charter and Abraham Lincoln, with Thursday and Saturday the dates for the semifinals and championship contests.

8) Christ the King (12-8)- From where the Royals were around a month ago to where they are now shows the work and dedication the coaching staff have put in as everyone has gotten better around the Christ the King program which helped them to 4 huge wins this past week over Msgr. Scanlan, Archbishop Stepinac, Archbishop Molloy, and Xaverian, none of which seemed remotely possibly just a few weeks ago. Ryan Myers '20 and Sterling Jones '21 have been leading the comeback in the backcourt as they will look to keep it going over the next seven days with with three more big games, Tuesday at Holy Cross, Thursday at Mount St. Michael, and then Sunday at home against a very good St. Raymond squad.

9) Xaverian (16-5)- If the Clippers just didn't have to play the teams from Queens they would be alright as 4 of their 5 losses this season have come from CHSAA opponents from Queens. Tuesday saw Xaverian go on the road to rake on Archbishop Molloy and fall 57-54, and then it was Christ the King on Sunday that did them in with a 52-48 defeat. Their 4 losses to Queens foes have come by a combined 9 points showing just how close Xaverian to being near perfection. This week will have Nick Folk '21 and company go to St. Raymond on Tuesday in a big one to watch, then it will be on the road at Bishop Loughlin on Friday before a home date on Sunday with Holy Cross.

10) Wings Academy (14-7)- Jose Cuello '20 led Wings with 17 points in their finish to the regular season on Wednesday in what would be a 54-44 win over JFK to clinch the #2 seed in the PSAL Bronx Borough Playoffs. Being the #1 seed will mean that Wings Academy will hit the court next on Tuesday with a game in the quarterfinals against either Harry Truman or Bronx H.S. of Science with those two meeting on Monday for the right to play Wings. Thursday will then be the semifinals with the Bronx title game to be decided on Saturday afternoon.

11) Eagle Academy (16-8)- Even though the Eagles had locked up the #1 seed in the PSAL Bronx Borough Playoffs before Tuesday's game with James Monroe they still wanted to make a statement to show they truly were the best heading into the postseason. That's exactly what Eagle Academy did as well as DaMarco Watson '20 put together another brilliant effort in the backcourt to lead his team to a dominating 85-62 win to send Eagle into the playoffs with confidence. As the #1 seed the Eagles will square off with either James Monroe again or Class B power Bathgate in the quarterfinals of the borough playoffs on Tuesday with the rest of the tournament to play out on Thursday and Saturday to crown a champion.

12) Msgr. Scanlan (11-10)- There was a time a couple weeks ago that the Crusaders were in what had to be looked at as a free for all as they had lost 7 in a row and their prospects the rest of the way were looking bleak to say the least. They slowly but surely started to turn things around though, and Sunday's 70-69 victory over St. Raymond was the proof that Scanlan will be a tough team to take on the rest of the way as Koby Brea '20 knocked down a 15 footer just before the final buzzer to give the Crusaders the win propelling them into our Top 15. This week here will see Scanlan hosting Stepinac in another big one on Tuesday before an even bigger one to come on Saturday at home against our #2 St. Francis Prep.

13) Thurgood Marshall Academy (15-7)- The Panthers had already clinched the #1 seed in the PSAL Manhattan Borough Playoffs but Tuesday was a chance for TMA to solidify themselves as the no doubt team to beat. They accomplished their goal as well as Kevin Dinkins '20 had 23 points as Thurgood Marshall overcame a 12 point halftime deficit on the road to take down WHEELS on Tuesday in dramatic fashion, 71-70. As the #1 seed in the borough playoffs the Panthers will open up in the quarterfinals on Tuesday by taking on the winner of a game between Class A teams Percy Sutton and Seward Park before hoping to roll the rest of the way to the championship.

14) WHEELS (15-9)- If you just judged things by how they were going at halftime everything was going great for WHEELS who were leading Thurgood Marshall Academy by 12 at the break in their final regular season game on Tuesday. Things eventually fell apart though for the Wolves in what would be a 71-70 defeat in their final game before the PSAL Manhattan Borough Playoffs. The Wolves are now the #2 seed in the borough playoffs and will get a game in the quarterfinals on Tuesday against either Louis Brandeis or Washington Irving with the semifinals set for Thursday, and a possible title game spot scheduled for Saturday.

15) Brooklyn Collegiate (15-9)- You can look at many of the Lions games in their past month and say what could've been as after Tuesday's 66-63 loss to end the regular season against Boys & Girls it will be Brooklyn Collegiate going into the postseason now having lost 8 of their last 10 as they looked for a long time as if they could've been the #1 seed, but now drop to the #3 spot. Tuesday will see them open their borough playoff run at home against a dangerous Canarsie team, with a possible road game in the semifinals on Thursday against South Shore set up for the right to move into Saturday's borough title game.

Class A

1) Benjamin Banneker (23-1)- The Warriors closed out PSAL play on Wednesday perfect as they were able to break open a close game at the half and run away to an 85-70 win behind a 24 point, 17 rebound effort inside from big man Tyler Gordon '20 as Banneker rolled through the Brooklyn A5 Division with ease which in turn helped them get the #4 seed in the PSAL Brooklyn Borough Playoffs, earning themselves a home game in the quarterfinals on Tuesday with perennial Class AA power Thomas Jefferson. A win there would put them in the semifinals against the #1 seed in Boys & Girls as the Warriors have to be dreaming of a special postseason run.

2) Msgr. Farrell (17-3)- Playing now in the SIHSL playoffs it was Justin Zieris '20 in the quarterfinals on Sunday that helped the Lions easily blow past Port Richmond by 20 in a game that saw the senior pour in 26 points to help lead the way for his team to make yet another semifinal appearance. The semifinals will be on Wednesday where Farrell will be going up against New Dorp, with a win there putting them in the SIHSL Championship to go up against either St. Peter's or Curtis before going back into CHSAA league play on Sunday with a home date against LaSalle awaiting them then.

3) Beacon (23-1)- While not always pretty the Blue Demons always seem to get the job done as they showed again this past Wednesday when they finished out the regular season with a 47-36 win over MLK Jr. as Beacon limited their opponents to just 2 points in the second quarter which really set the tone in the strong defensive performance enabling them to get the victory. Beacon will now go into the PSAL Manhattan Borough Playoffs as the #5 seed and they will travel to take on Class AA school Manhattan Center on Tuesday in the quarterfinal before a possible semifinal date on Thursday against #1 seed Thurgood Marshall leaving them that much close to a title game berth.

4) Bedford Academy (21-3)- Ending their regular season in style were the Panthers as they scored a whopping 43 points in the opening quarter to set the tone against Bushwick in what would ultimately be a 100-38 win for Bedford Academy in a truly dominating offensive performance. Mayowa Adeoye '20 would score a career high 21 points for Bedford in the win as they earned the #7 seed in the PSAL Brooklyn Borough Playoffs meaning a Monday opening round game against Eagle Academy II before a win there gets them into Tuesday's quarterfinals and a date with one of NYC's best overall in South Shore.

5) Murry Bergtraum (20-4)- Finishing out the regular season with one of their better defensive performances of the season were the Blazers as they held a solid Norman Thomas team to just 46 points in what would be a 62-46 win for Bergtraum led by a 20 point, 17 rebound, and 17 assist game from star guard Dior Davis '21. Bergtraum will now go into the PSAL Manhattan Borough Playoffs as the #3 seed and they will host another top Class A school in Tuesday's quarterfinals in Graphics Campus with the winner moving into the semifinals on Thursday putting them one step closer to a surprise semifinal appearance where anything then could happen.

6) Graphics Campus (21-2)- If not for Beacon in their Manhattan A Northwest II Division who knows what could've been for the 49ers this season as both of their losses came in tight contests to the Blue Demons. Graphics did finish the season out strong on Wednesday with a 98-60 win over Fiorello LaGuardia as Damani Claxton '20 had 20 to lead 4 scorers in double figures to help the 49ers to the victory. Graphics Campus will now be in the PSAL Manhattan Borough Playoffs as they go in as the #6 seed and a road quarterfinal game with Murry Bergtraum in a battle between two top Class A powers with the winner in good position to make an even deeper run through the tournament.

7) Far Rockaway (17-3)- As one of the top defensive teams in Class A overall this season you have to really look at the Sea Horses and credit them for their toughness and commitment to being a hard nosed group unwilling to give up anything easy. That was backed up again in Far Rockaway's final league game as they limited Newtown to just 30 points in what was a 55-30 road win for the Sea Horses. No one for Far Rockaway scored in double figures but 12 players got in the scorebook as it was a true team effort. Far Rock will now be the #5 seed in the PSAL Queens Borough Playoffs and will hit the road on Tuesday to play Queens H.S. of Teaching in the quarterfinals.

8) St. Edmund Prep (15-5)- There have been some very good moments this season for the Eagles, with another one of those coming on Tuesday when St. Edmund went on the road and really put together a true dominant effort in what was a 58-46 victory for them over a CHSAA title contender in Xavier. Shemar Latty '20 had 21 points and controlled the offense and defense all night long to help the Eagles to the win, pushing them back into the Top Ten this week. They will hope to stay here now with two more league games coming this week as St. Edmund Prep will go to Cardinal Spellman on Tuesday before another road game awaits on Friday with Brooklyn rivals Nazareth.

9) Hillcrest (22-1)- The final regular season game was a battle for first place in the Queens A East II Division with the Hawks hosting Eagle Academy III. Hillcrest jumped out early to an 8 point halftime lead and while Eagle got the deficit down to 3 on a couple of occasions never were able to overtake the Hawks as Hillcrest got 20 points from Nkosi Williams '20 in a 58-49 win to wrap up the regular season title. Hillcrest got the #3 seed in the PSAL Queens Borough Playoffs as a result of a regular season win over #4 seed Queens H.S. of Teaching and will now play host to Class AA school Francis Lewis in the quarterfinals this Tuesday in what the Hawks hope is a deep playoff run.

10) Xavier (16-4)- Even though the Knights slipped up on Tuesday with a 58-46 home loss to St. Edmund Prep there is no doubt that if healthy Xavier is a contender for the CHSAA Class A title. Blair Thompson '21 did get injured late in the St. Edmund game and his status is still unknown moving forward so there are a lot of question marks right now about the Knights, though this coming week with games on Tuesday at All Hallows and Friday at Fordham Prep will tell us a lot about what to expect about Xavier here moving forward the rest of the way.

Class B

1) Uncommon Charter (21-2)- Finishing out the regular season with one of the top rivalry games in Class B, Uncommon took on Achievement First in a matchup of top of the team Brooklyn B teams. They share the same building and their courts are just two floors apart meaning big time bragging rights on the line, and with Ahzariah Douglas '20 scoring 16 points and grabbing 12 rebounds it was the Sabers securing a 65-43 convincing win. Uncommon win the win did enough to grab the #8 seed in the PSAL Brooklyn Borough Playoffs and a Monday opening round game with Class AA school Abraham Lincoln with a win there putting them on the road 24 hours later against Boys & Girls in the quarterfinals in a big week to prove what the Sabers truly are.

2) Summit Academy (19-4)- Unbeaten in 2020 and winners of 8 in a row, the Eagles did all they could this regular season as they finished things out last Sunday with a 22 point blowout of The Scholars Academy in the PSAL B Division Showcase in a game that saw Soumana Sylla '20 score 22 points to lead the way in the convincing win over one of Queens' best Class B programs. The win wasn't enough for Summit Academy to garner a PSAL Brooklyn Borough Playoff berth which means they have to now wait a couple weeks to get their postseason play underway.

3) Poly Prep (16-3)- When you have young players doing as much as Poly does it really shows how bright the future of the program is. Nasir Muhammad '23 is proving himself to be one of the best freshmen in the area as he had 27 points on Monday in a 90-65 win over Hackley on the road, and that was followed soon up by a couple of more wins over Berkeley Carroll and Trinity as the Blue Devils have really cemented themselves as the team to beat in the Ivy Prep League entering the final week of the regular season. Poly Prep will close things out with Horace Mann and Dalton at home on Wednesday and Friday with NYSAIS playoff action to begin in a couple weeks time.

4) Townsend Harris (21-0)- We have had our complaints about the lack of important non-league games on the schedule for the Hawks but after a 65-44 win over Cambria Heights Academy on Monday to finish out the regular season with a perfect 21-0 record we are surprised that Townsend Harris, led Jahdon Jerome '21 didn't make the PSAL Queens Borough Playoffs over Class A teams with 4 and 5 losses in league play. That was one of the more disappointing decisions by the PSAL committee as now an unbeaten Hawks team have to wait until the B Division playoffs get underway.

5) Riverdale (16-3)- If anyone looks as if they are going to challenge Poly Prep in the Ivy Prep League it's the Falcons who put together a very strong performance on Friday against Hackley on Friday with Sam Klores '20 scoring 13, while two others for Riverdale had 12 points in what was a 68-47 victory for the Falcons. As a Riverdale only seem to be improving as the season goes on and they will hope to finish out the regular season on a strong note as on Monday the Bronx school will head to Manhattan to take on Collegiate, and then it will be a Wednesday home game versus Trinity before going to Manhattan College for a major showdown with their rivals from Horace Mann.

6) Achievement First (17-5)- Closing out their regular season against their archrivals in Uncommon Charter, it wasn't the result that Achievement wanted as they fell behind by 10 after one quarter and never really got any sort of offensive rhythm going against a physical and pressing Sabers team in what would be a 65-43 loss. Emmanuel Smith '20 did a solid job inside with 15 points and 11 rebounds for Achievement First but the loss did cost them any small chance they might have had at a PSAL Brooklyn Borough Playoff berth as they will now sit on the sidelines this week and await their seed for the B Division Playoffs which will begin now in about two weeks.

7) Brooklyn College Academy (18-6)- Hitting the road and going to Pennsylvania this past weekend for games against Andrews Academy and Obama Academy meant two defeats for the Bobcats, but more than anything it meant a chance to play high level, quality competition out of league before the PSAL B Division playoffs get underway. Games like this will only prepare them more for what they will see in important must win games coming up as led by star guard Deon McLaughlin '20 it's easy to see BCA being a team who can make a deep postseason run.

8) Academy of American Studies (18-2)- Another team much like Townsend Harris that we look at and think why didn't this team make the PSAL Queens Borough field over a 4 or 5 loss in league A Division team, American Studies ran through league play undefeated with its only losses coming to a CHSAA A Division school in Msgr. McClancy and to Achievement First on the road in the B Showcase. Amit Singh '20 has become one of the more versatile and dangerous players in Queens right now and his play, along with the depth and the backcourt prowess of the rest of the Eagles should make them a team no one wants to face come PSAL B Division playoff time.

9) Bathgate Educational Complex (16-4)- Tuesday saw the regular season come to an end for Bathgate when they hosted Bronx School for Law, Government, & Justice. It was all Bulldogs though as Bathgate jumped out to a quick double digit lead and never looked back in an 80-53 win that saw both Elijah Gonzalez '21 and Brian De La Rosa '20 score 17 points to lead the way in the convincing victory. Bathgate did enough to get a PSAL Bronx Borough Playoff spot as they are the #9 seed and will take on Class AA school James Monroe in an opening round game on Monday, with a possible date on Tuesday against Eagle Academy if they can pull off the upset the day before.

10) Martin Luther (14-6)- Falling just a bit this week in our Class B Top Ten are the Cougars as they had their chances on Wednesday against longtime power Lawrence Woodmere Academy, but even with 21 points from Darren Joyner '20 it was Martin Luther falling just short in a 56-54 defeat. That ended their regular season but the Cougars now enter PSAA postseason play on Monday with a quarterfinal game at home against Stony Brook. A win there puts them in Tuesday's semifinals against a very good Portledge team with the PSAA title game if Martin Luther gets there scheduled for Thursday in a contes to be played in their home gym.

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