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Tuesday, Feb. 18, 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) St. Raymond (19-4)- It was a strong 2-0 week for the Ravens to catapult them back into the #1 spot. They easily dispatched of Xaverian at home on Tuesday 89-73, and then on Sunday went on the road and defeated Christ the King 75-66, with this being the first time in 10 years that St. Ray's has defeated the Royals in Middle Village. Monday will see the Ravens host their senior night when they take on the last team to beat them in Msgr. Scanlan before the CHSAA Archdiocese of New York playoffs get underway.

2) South Shore (19-8)- Going into the PSAL Brooklyn Borough Playoffs as the #2 seed it was the Vikings who came out on top as they found a tricky opponent in the semifinals on Thursday in Brooklyn Collegiate, though South Shore rallied for a 102-94 OT victory before cruising past Class A upstart Benjamin Banneker 97-61 in the title game on Saturday. Next up will be the PSAL Class AA City Playoffs which will get started in just about a weeks time.

3) John Bowne (22-3)- Even after losing twice during the regular season to Benjamin Cardozo it's the Wildcats who come out on top in the Queens Borough championship as the Judges were knocked out early allowing Bowne to take advantage as they rolled past Eagle Academy III, Francis Lewis, and Queens H.S. of Teaching each by 30+ points en route to claiming the title. Bowne will go this weekend to play in the LuHi Invitational with Friday seeing them open up with Albany Academy before getting a date with either Long Island Lutheran or Lehman on Saturday.

4) Cardinal Hayes (15-8)- Getting two wins this past week at home over Iona Prep and Mount St. Michael secured the #3 seed in the upcoming CHSAA Archdiocese of New York Tournament for the Cardinals but even more important than that was the return on Friday of Jalen Smith '20 to the Hayes lineup as the football star got hurt during the season on the gridiron but is now fully recovered and back on the hardwood as Hayes will face off on Tuesday in an intriguing battle with St. Francis Prep to end the regular season.

5) St. Francis Prep (16-7)- Finding ways to win has been the Terriers mindsets all season. That was displayed in spades on Friday night as St. Francis Prep was down 31-9 in the second quarter and were down 41-25 at the half before rallying on a last second three at the buzzer to defeat Archbishop Molloy 64-62. It was a fantastic ending for the Terriers who even with Sunday's loss to Msgr. Scanlan on the road wrapped up the #1 seed in the upcoming CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens Diocese Tournament, though one regular season game at Cardinal Hayes on Tuesday is still to come.

6) Wings Academy (17-7)- When Wings started the season 1-2 it looked as if this was going to be another down year for the perennial Bronx power. They made sure that wasn't the case though as Wings came into the Bronx Borough Playoffs as the #2 seed but left as champions as paced by Jose Cuello it was Wings grinding out a defensive battle over their rivals from Eagle Academy in the title game on Saturday, winning 49-40. The win should have Wings as a high seed in the PSAL Class AA City Playoffs as they will get going in just over a week.

7) Benjamin Cardozo (24-1)- The issue all year when talking about the Judges was their lack of challenges out of league. Cardozo didn't play anyone of major note in the non-league and it came back to bite them a bit when the PSAL Queens Borough Playoffs began as in their opener Cardozo fell at home in the quarterfinals to H.S. for Construction 85-69 with the Red Hawks dominating the second half to run away with things as the Judges will now wait until Tuesday to find out their seed for the soon to begin PSAL Class AA City Playoffs.


8) Msgr. Scanlan (13-10)- There may be no more dangerous team right now in NYC than the Crusaders as in the past 10 days they have defeated St. Raymond, Archbishop Stepinac, and St. Francis Prep, with the latter two being dominating performances that Scanlan won by double digits. Koby Brea '20 did look to re-injure his ankle in Saturday's win over St. Francis Prep so if he is out for an extended period of time that would hurt the Crusaders chances moving forward, though they have one regular season game left at St. Raymond in a big one on Monday.

9) WHEELS (18-9)- Having lost both regular season matchup's to Thurgood Marshall, the Wolves got their revenge in the PSAL Manhattan Borough Championship as they were able to jump out to a quick lead and never trail the entire way in knocking off TMA 63-56 for the title. WHEELS also defeated a very good Murry Bergtraum team in the semifinals in come from behind fashion as they now look to be a very high seed in the upcoming PSAL Class AA City Playoffs.

10) Christ the King (14-9)- Earlier this season we would've laughed if you had said at this point of the season the Royals would've been a Top Ten team. They massively struggled to begin the season but have rebounded to be one of the better teams now in the CHSAA. Christ the King began this past week with wins over Holy Cross and Mount St. Michael but would end the week with a home defeat against St. Raymond 75-66 as they will now enter the CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens Diocese Tournament as the #3 seed and open with Bishop Loughlin on Monday the 24th.

11) Boys & Girls (18-7)- If there is an issue with the Kangaroos its that they at times rely too much on their junior star Khalil Brantley '21. He had 37 points in a tremendous PSAL Brooklyn Borough semifinals performance but it was in a 71-69 loss to Benjamin Banneker to end Boys & Girls's run as the #1 seed in that tournament. They will now await to hear what seed they get in the upcoming PSAL Class AA City Playoffs as the Kangaroos are still without question thought of as one of the best teams coming into the tournament.

12) Eagle Academy (18-9)- Eagle went in as the #1 seed in the PSAL Bronx Borough Playoffs and made quick work of their first two foes in that tournament when they knocked off both James Monroe and KIPP NYC College Prep. The Eagles split the regular season contests with their title game opponent and rivals in Wings Academy, though with DaMarco Watson '20 being held to a season low 11 points it was Eagle Academy not mustering up enough offense in a 49-40 loss with the Eagles now waiting to hear what their PSAL Class AA City Playoffs seed will be.

13) Thurgood Marshall Academy (17-8)- Much like Eagle Academy before them in our rankings, Thurgood Marshall were in position to really cement themselves as one of the best in NYC heading into the PSAL Manhattan Borough title game against WHEELS. They had defeated the Wolves both times during the regular season and a Saturday win for the third time could've had them in the conversation for the #1 seed in the PSAL Class AA City Playoffs. The Panthers never led though as they got off to a less than stellar start and would fall 63-56 as they now await to see what their City Championships seed will be.

14) Brooklyn Collegiate (16-10)- When the Lions were missing the services of guard Majesty Johnson '20 for most of January they were not competitive against the best the Brooklyn AA had to offer, but with him now back Brooklyn Collegiate looks back to normal as they knocked off Canarsie in the quarterfinals of the PSAL Brooklyn Borough Playoffs, and then nearly took down the eventual champs in South Shore on the road losing in OT, 102-94 in the semifinals. The PSAL Class AA City Playoffs are next where the Lions should be as dangerous as anyone.

15) Xaverian (17-7)- Just a few weeks back Xaverian was at the very top of our rankings and now here they are after two losses this past week, a 89-73 loss to St. Raymond and a 74-58 defeat to Holy Cross, just barely hanging on. They were looked at as one of the best defensive teams in the CHSAA for much of this season but now enter the postseason with a number of question marks to their name. The Clippers will begin the CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens Diocese Tournament as the #2 seed and won't play until Wednesday the 29th against either Christ the King or Bishop Loughlin.

Class A

1) Benjamin Banneker (25-2)- If anything this past week showed just how good and talented the Warriors truly are as they entered the PSAL Brooklyn Borough Playoffs with many wondering how they would do against the big boys from the Brooklyn AA. Wins over Thomas Jefferson and Boys & Girls on the road answered those questions quickly as Banneker won those first two to earn a Brooklyn Borough title game appearance against South Shore. The Warriors would lose their 97-61 but more than showed the type of team they are as Banneker are now the #1 seed in the PSAL Class A City Playoffs and are off now until the 28th of February.

2) Murry Bergtraum (21-5)- Going into the PSAL Manhattan Borough Playoffs there was a lot of thought that the Blazers could be a team to do serious damage. They win their quarterfinal with Graphics Campus 102-92 before going on the road to take on WHEELS in the semifinals. Bergtraum led nearly the whole way before letting the game get away from them down the stretch in what will be a tough for them to get over 91-88 semifinal loss to the Wolves. Bergtraum will now be off until the 28th when they begin their PSAL Class A City Championship road as the #2 seed behind only Banneker.

3) Beacon (24-2)- Another team that will look back on the PSAL Manhattan Borough Playoffs and wonder what if. Beacon took a 10 point lead going into the fourth quarter in their quarterfinal game at Class AA school Manhattan Center only to see their coach get thrown out and the offense run into a major dry spell in what turned out to be a 60-54 loss. The Blue Demons will now enter the PSAL Class A City Playoffs as the #4 seed on their road to what they hope will e a very deep postseason run.

4) Bedford Academy (21-4)- Heartbreak seemed to be the word of the day for a good number of the Class A teams playing in the borough playoffs. Bedford was no different as they opened the PSAL Brooklyn Borough Playoffs with Eagle Academy II. The Panther led through and had chances to win at the end of regulation and at the end of the first OT session but couldn't make a play when it was needed as Eagle II took a 104-92 game when Bedford ran out of gas late. The #3 seed though in the upcoming PSAL Class A City Playoffs, expect big things to come from this Panthers group.

5) St. Edmund Prep (17-5)- Going on the road twice this past week, the Eagles found a way to get two wins over Nazareth and Cardinal Spellman to secure themselves as the regular season champions of the CHSAA Class A Division. Sean Edwards '20 was the man for St. Edmund this week as he was named League Player of the Week and gave a boost to the Eagles offense averaging 18 points over his last three weeks of play. Two non-league games are coming this week with Goldstein and Tilden coming to them on Tuesday and Friday.

6) Graphics Campus (21-3)- Beginning their PSAL Manhattan Borough Playoffs by going to Murry Bergtraum in what was a battle of Class A powers, the 49ers hung tough in a very high scoring affair as they went shot for shot with the Blazers for three quarters before ultimately falling to Bergtraum 102-92 in one of the faster paced tempo games you will see. Under seeded as the #10 seed in the PSAL Class A City Playoffs, Graphics Campus will look to surprise teams with a deep postseason run.

7) Far Rockaway (17-4)- While Queens H.S. of Teaching made it all the way to the PSAL Queens Borough title game that could've easily been Far Rockaway in that spot as the Sea Horses were in command entering the fourth quarter against QHST in the Queens Borough quarterfinals, losing only on a buzzer beating jump shot 48-47. It was a very hard luck way to lose for Far Rockaway who will now begin their PSAL Class A City Playoff run as the #8 seed, getting going a week from this coming Friday.

8) Msgr. Farrell (18-4)- Most observers following the SIHSL Playoffs expected the championship game to be St. Peter's against Msgr. Farrell as they were the clear two best teams on Staten Island all season long. New Dorp though in the semifinals made sure that matchup wasn't going to be seen as they rallied from a 14 point halftime deficit to shock the Lions 42-38. Farrell did manage to rebound on Sunday with a 64-56 CHSAA league win over LaSalle, and now will have one more game before the playoffs begin when on Friday it's Farrell playing host to All Hallows.

9) KIPP NYC College Prep (22-5)- It was a knock down drag out battle in the PSAL Bronx Borough quarterfinals when KIPP played host to Lehman. There was nothing pretty about this game as it was a physical game on the inside that saw the Bulldogs rally from a deficit entering the fourth quarter to take a 55-53 victory. In the semifinals KIPP would hang tough for a while but ultimately lose to Eagle Academy 80-67 to end their tournament run. Now it's the PSAL Class A City Playoffs though with the Bulldogs the #6 seed as they look to make a strong run toward a possible title.

10) Hillcrest (22-2)- Much was expected from the Hawks as they got the #3 seed for the PSAL Queens Borough Tournament. That meant a home quarterfinal game with Class AA school Francis Lewis. Hillcrest though struggled offensively all game long only hitting 2 three pointers from start to finish in what would be a 57-49 loss for the Hawks. Hillcrest is the #7 seed in the upcoming PSAL Class A City Playoffs as they will try to get back on track and make a deep playoff run.

Class B

1) Uncommon Charter (22-3)- When you are a Class B Division team and find a way to make the PSAL Brooklyn Borough Playoffs that in itself should be considered quite the accomplishment, but when that team wins a game over a Class AA school that just makes the accomplishment even sweeter. That's what Uncommon did as they knocked off Abraham Lincoln before falling to Boys & Girls by just 13 in the quarterfinals in what was a great showing for the now #1 seed in the upcoming PSAL Class B City Playoffs to begin in roughly a weeks time.

2) Summit academy (19-4)- Even though Summit didn't make the PSAL Brooklyn Borough Playoffs they are without question one of the more explosive and dangerous teams entering the PSAL Class B City Playoffs. The Eagles will enter as the #3 seed with a strong chance led by the play of Jeremiah Hewitt '20 to be there at the end and be playing for a city championship.

3) Townsend Harris (21-0)- An undefeated regular season should've been rewarded for the Hawks with a trip to play in the PSAL Queens Borough Playoffs. The PSAL committee however did not agree snubbing Townsend Harris even though they make quick work of everyone in their path during the regular season in the Queens B East I Division. The Hawks did get the #4 seed in the PSAL Class B City Playoffs though meaning they were given respect there for the body of work during a perfect season to date.

4) Achievement First (18-5)- With one of the bigger and more versatile teams in the PSAL B Division this season, Achievement First were able to handle everyone in their path in league play with the exception of their rivals from Uncommon Charter who handed them their only pair of losses in league. It was a mild surprise to see Achievement only land the #7 seed for the PSAL Class B City Playoffs, but avoiding Uncommon's side could mean a rematch at the end for the championship.

5) Brooklyn College Academy (18-6)- There wasn't much that Deon McLaughlin '20 couldn't do this season for the Bobcats as the senior averaged 27 points and 12 rebounds a game to help them to one of their best seasons in school history. With that success came the #5 seed in the PSAL Class B City Playoffs that won't get underway until a week from Friday for Brooklyn College Academy as they look ready to make a major statement entering the postseason.

6) Poly Prep (17-4)- Even though the Blue Devils were able to defeat Dalton on Friday 77-57 it was an up and down week for Poly Prep as on Wednesday they fell at home to Horace Mann 84-65 in a game that saw Max Ragusa '22 score 24 points but it was also a game that the Blue Devils never led in, and a game that may have cost Poly the #1 seed in the NYSAIS Class B Playoffs. That's because the Blue Devils got the #2 seed and will open Dalton on Wednesday before a possible semifinal showdown on Friday with Riverdale.

7) Academy of American Studies (18-2)- American Studies beat Maspeth twice in during the regular season while Maspeth was able to defeat Fannie Lou Hamer by 23 points yet it's Fannie Lou who are the #2 seed while American Studies are the #8 seed. That was the biggest headscratcher from the PSAL when their PSAL Class B City Playoff seeds came out on Monday as there was no logical sense why an unbeaten team in league, with only two losses all year overall, should be in the seeding position that they are entering the playoffs.

8) Bathgate Educational Complex (16-5)- Making their first appearance in the PSAL Bronx Borough Playoffs, Bathgate opened up with James Monroe on the road in a game that saw them within 4 midway through the fourth quarter only to fall to the Class AA school 58-47. It was a solid showing for a Class B team with a lot of potential now going into the PSAL Class B City Playoffs where the Bulldogs will be the #9 seed, and will get going here in a couple weeks.

9) Collegiate School (19-6)- A perfect week for Collegiate saw them knock off Riverdale 73-57 to end their Ivy League regular season play, and then hosting their Collegiate Invitational it was the Dutchmen taking down both Hunter College High School and Washington Irving of the PSAL to claim the title. That's not the only title Collegiate hopes to win now though as they enter the NYSAIS Class B Tournament as the #4 seed and will host Lawrence Woodmere Academy on Wednesday in the quarterfinals before a possible semifinal showdown with #1 seed and Long Island power Portledge on Friday.

10) Riverdale (18-4)- After slipping up to Collegiate on Monday 73-57 it was Riverdale who won their major rivalry game on Friday night as they went to Manhattan College and took down Horace Mann in OT 81-77 as Noah Seeherman '20 was the hero as he scored 34 points to lead the Falcons to the come from behind victory. The win slots Riverdale in as the #3 seed in the NYSAIS Class B Tournament which gets going on Wednesday with a quarterfinal home game against Dwight before possibly taking on Poly Prep on the road on Friday for a trip to Sunday's championship.

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