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Tuesday, March 10, 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 (21-5)- Sunday was supposed to the Ravens taking on Archbishop Molloy in the CHSAA Intersectional Quarterfinals but Fordham University shut down all events until further notice due to the State of Emergency declared by Gov. Andrew Cuomo meaning all four quarterfinals were postponed with venue, dates, and times still up in the air as to when things will move forward. When they do pick back up you can expect to see Gary Grant '20 and the rest of his St. Raymond team ready to prove they are the elite of the elite in the CHSAA.

2) South Shore (21-8)- Far from pretty but South Shore found a way to get the job done on Sunday in the PSAL quarterfinals at St. John's University as Zaire Wells '21 had 16 points to lead all Vikings scores as they fought through some iffy moments in the fourth quarter to hold on for a 55-47 victory over Eagle Academy. The win now will put South Shore into Saturday's semifinals where the Vikings will take on Thomas Jefferson with a title game berth at stake.

3) Cardinal Hayes (18-9)- It was a slow start for the Cardinals on Wednesday in the CHSAA Intersectional Second Round when they took on Mount St. Michael but Hayes would right the ship in the second quarter and take a commanding double digit lead, never looking back after that in what would be a 60-47 victory. Shemani Fuller '20 had 19 points and 13 rebounds for the Cardinals in the win who would've played on Sunday against Xaverian in the quarterfinals but with Fordham University shut down the game was postponed until a date, time, and venue to be determined.

4) St. Francis Prep (18-8)- A magical season for the Terriers looked set to continue to Sunday in the CHSAA Intersectional Quarterfinals where they were scheduled to face Msgr. Scanlan in the first contest of the day at Fordham University. All games though were postponed as Fordham has shut down all extracurricular activities for the foreseeable future meaning St. Francis Prep's matchup with Scanlan will be played at a time and venue still to be determined.

5) WHEELS (20-9)- The improbable run of the Wolves continues as they found a way even with star guard Randy Crosby '21 in tremendous foul trouble for most of the game to knock off Boys & Girls on Sunday in the PSAL quarterfinals, 63-59. WHEELS trailed after the first quarter, second quarter, and third quarter, but none of that mattered as they rallied to outscore the Kangaroos 17-8 in the fourth to rally for the win setting the Wolves up with a semifinal appearance on Saturday against Brooklyn Collegiate.

6) Xaverian (18-8)- As the runners-up in the CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens Diocese the Clippers earned an automatic bye into the Intersectional Quarterfinals that were scheduled to be played this past Sunday Fordham University. The games because of the State of Emergency declared in New York State were postponed by Fordham meaning Xaverian's game with Cardinal Hayes will be made up at a time, date, and venue that are still not set as of this writing.

7) Brooklyn Collegiate (18-10)- When the Lions needed a big shot it was Amahrie Simpkins '20 to the rescue as he hit a big three when Brooklyn Collegiate was only up by 1 with just over three minutes to go in the fourth as Simpkins big shot carried the Lions down the stretch as he had 25 points to lead all scorers in their 66-55 PSAL quarterfinal win on Sunday over Canarsie. The win now has Brooklyn Collegiate in the semifinals set to be played on Saturday where they will face off against the best out of Manhattan in WHEELS.

8) Thomas Jefferson (14-13)- For most of this season the Orange Wave were an underachieving team with a good amount of talent that just seemed to struggle to get over the top losing 8 of their 13 games this season by single digits. That all would change in the playoffs though as Jefferson went to Thurgood Marshall last week in the Round of 16 and got a 75-72 victory, and then on Sunday it was Jaquan Carlos '21 scoring 31 as he helped Jefferson find a way again in a 78-76 PSAL quarterfinal win over John Bowne. The #12 seed Orange Wave are now in the semifinals with South Shore awaiting them next in Saturday's semifinals.


9) Msgr. Scanlan (15-12)- Wednesday saw one of the better CHSAA Intersectional Second Round games that anyone would see as the Crusaders took on Christ the King. The Royals got out in front quickly but Rodney Bailey '20 and his ability to settle down the team and get the offense going in the fourth allowed Scanlan to overtake Christ the King, and when a last second shot to tie fell off the side of the rim it was Scanlan moving on with a 66-63 win. The Crusaders were due to play St. Francis Prep in the quarterfinals on Sunday but with Fordham University closing all extracurricular actives the enter quarterfinal round has been postponed for now.

10) Boys & Girls (19-8)- Dominating the Kangaroos PSAL quarterfinal game in the early going was Khalil Brantley '21 as the guard was able to get into the lane whenever he wanted as Boys & Girls grabbed an early double digit lead. Their opponent in WHEELS though slowly started to chip away, and with good looks getting tougher and tough as the game went on the Kangaroos lead, which was as much as 13 at one point, began to disappear. It would go away completely midway through the fourth quarter as the season on Sunday ended for Boys & Girls in a 63-59 quarterfinal defeat.

11) John Bowne (24-5)- There was a lot of promise for the Wildcats entering the PSAL postseason as they won the Queens Borough Championship and looked poised for a big playoff run. The #4 seed matched up with the #12 seed in the quarterfinals on Sunday in Thomas Jefferson, and while Bowne was solid in rallying from big deficits throughout the game the last one proved to be the one they couldn't climb out of as Cherif Diarra '20 did a strong job for the Wildcats around the rim but Bowne couldn't get the big stops late as they would fall in the quarterfinals to Jefferson, 78-76 ending their season.

12) Eagle Academy (19-10)- Underdogs coming into their PSAL quarterfinal game on Sunday against the #1 seed in South Shore, the Eagles showed no fear or quit as they played toe to toe from start to finish with the Vikings. DaMarco Watson '20 hit clutch shots throughout and Eagle Academy actually led for parts of the third quarter. South Shore's depth though proved to be too much as Watson would have 21 points but it would be the final game for Eagle this year in a 55-47 quarterfinal round defeat.

13) Archbishop Molloy (14-13)- They may be young and inexperienced in big games but that didn't matter on Thursday for the Stanners when they took on St. Peter's in the CHSAA Intersectional Second Round. Christian Bliss '23, while only a freshman, had 17 points to lead the way for Molloy in what would be a 60-58 win for the Stanners. This game saw the glass shatter on a dunk attempt by Bliss that caused the game to be delayed for nearly 90 minutes but with the Stanners finding a way to win the delay meant nothing to them. They now will take on St. Raymond in the CHSAA Intersectional Quarterfinals on a date and time still be announced.

14) Canarsie (13-14)- Even though they finished with a record under .500 for the year make no mistake about it, this was a very successful first season back up in the AA for the Chiefs. They finished .500 in the Brooklyn AA, one of the toughest leagues in the country, and had one of the top scorers in the PSAL in A'Mag Tate '20 as well. Canarsie was able to shock Cardozo on the road 64-62 in the Round of 16, and while they fell on Sunday to Brooklyn Collegiate 66-55 in the quarterfinals, the game was much closer than the final score shows as Canarsie should be a team to reckon with for years to come.

15) Christ the King (14-11)- Expectations are always extremely high for Christ the King as they are perennially one of the power programs not just in New York City, but in the country as a whole. This season though didn't go as the Royals had hoped or planned as they took an early exit in the CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens Diocesan Tournament, and then in their CHSAA Intersectional opener on Wednesday they would jump out early behind the play of Sterling Jones '21, but couldn't make the big plays late when they were needed as Christ the King's season would end in the Second Round with a 66-63 defeat against Msgr. Scanlan.

Class A

1) Benjamin Banneker (28-2)- Far from easy, the Warriors found themselves in one of the tougher games they have had in the season in the PSAL quarterfinals on Saturday against Lehman. Banneker was down by 1 in the closing seconds when Tajuan Simpkins '21 connected at the buzzer on a floater in the lane to give the Warriors a 63-62 victory over the Lions. With the win the magical season for Banneker continues as they will play in the PSAL semifinals this Sunday against Beacon.

2) Murry Bergtraum (24-5)- Another team who needed a friendly roll at the buzzer in the PSAL quarterfinals were the Blazers as they took on Graphics Campus for the right to move into the semifinals. Down by 1 as well in the waning moments it was Dior Davis '21 for Bergtraum who got to the rim and finished against contact at the buzzer to give the Blazers an 80-79 victory. The win puts Murry Bergtraum into the semifinals against Bedford Academy in a game which will take place on Sunday.

3) Beacon (27-2)- It was a masterful defensive effort from the Blue Demons who limited John Adams to just 2 points in the first quarter in Saturday's PSAL quarterfinal matchup as out of the gate early it was Beacon with a double digit lead. They never looked back after that either as Samuel Pohlman '21 had 18 to lead the way for the Blue Demons as they knocked Adams for a 56-38 win. Now it will be Beacon taking on #1 seed Banneker in the PSAL semifinals on Sunday in Brooklyn.

4) Bedford Academy (24-4)- Coming in at #4 is the fourth team in the PSAL semifinals that will take place this coming Sunday as the Panthers also needed some last second heroics with an Ethan Edwards '20 basket just before the final buzzer helping Bedford knock off KIPP NYC College Prep in Saturday's quarterfinals 70-69. Having squeaked by in the quarterfinals, Bedford will now match up against Murry Bergtraum on Sunday with a title game berth on the line.

5) Fordham Prep (17-10)- When the CHSAA playoffs began not many were looking at the Rams as a viable championship contender, but they were on a mission to prove everyone wrong, and prove everyone wrong they did. Fordham Prep would knock off #1 seed Msgr. Farrell in the semifinals, and then on Friday night in the title game against #2 seed St. Edmund Prep it was Ryan McPartlan '21 scoring 16 to lead the way as the Rams won the championship 60-49. It is now CHSAA State Championship time as Fordham Prep will go to Buffalo on Saturday to take on Canisius for the Class A CHSAA title.

6) Graphics Campus (23-4)- Just when it looked like the 49ers were going to shock Murry Bergtraum in the PSAL quarterfinals on Saturday it all went away for them. Graphics were on top for nearly the entire fourth quarter before a late Blazers rally did them in as even with Damani Claxton '20 going off for 25 it was still the 49ers falling 1 point short as they would fall 80-79 to Bergtraum to put an end to what has to be described as one of the best seasons in Graphics Campus basketball history.

7) KIPP NYC College Prep (24-6)- Saturday looked as if it would be KIPP's day to surprise a lot of people and get themselves to the PSAL semifinals as they led in the closing seconds against Bedford Academy in the quarterfinals after a Damir Brooks '20 drive with 9 seconds left gave the Bulldogs the lead. The lead wouldn't hold up though as a game winner at the buzzer from the Panthers ended KIPP's season in heartbreak to the tune of a 70-69 loss, putting a close to what was a fantastic overall year.

8) Lehman (20-7)- Many observers picked Lehman as a dark horse contender to watch for the PSAL title and those people looked very smart when they dominated their way through the first couple round of the playoffs. #1 seed Banneker would await them though on Saturday evening in the PSAL quarterfinals, though they didn't back down from the challenge one bit. Charlie Casillas '20 hit a couple clutch shots to give the Lions the lead late, but a game winner at the buzzer from the Warriors dashed Lehman's upset hopes as they would fall 63-62 in a heartbreaker.

9) St. Edmund Prep (21-6)- Even though the Eagles had 3 players in double figures, it was star guard Shemar Latty '20 who was limited to just 8 points on Friday as St. Edmund Prep as the #2 seed fell in the CHSAA championship game, 60-49 to Fordham Prep. The loss ended a tremendous high school career for Latty and three other senior starters as the Eagles will look to replenish and reload to make another deep Class A playoff run come next season.

10) Msgr. Farrell (21-5)- It's crazy to think that many of the teams in the Class A Top Ten saw their seasons advance or end on a buzzer beater, and the Lions are no exception to that either as they were tied at 56 in the closing seconds of their CHSAA semifinal at Fordham Prep when a FT line jumper from the Rams was nothing but net to end a great season for Farrell as they fell 58-56. Justin Zieris '20 had 19 points in the defeat that would put an end to his spectacular high school career.

Class B

1) Uncommon Charter (25-3)- Throughout most of Saturday's PSAL quarterfinal contest against Bathgate it was Uncommon who were struggling to pull away against a stingy and tough defensive performance from their Bronx opponents. Down the stretch though when they big plays needed to be made their was Ahzariah Douglas '20 as the senior had 28 points and 19 rebounds to carry the Sabers to a 58-49 win and advance them into Sunday's semifinals where Uncommon will square off with Adams Street Academy.

2) Poly Prep (21-4)- Max Ragusa '22 and the rest of the Blue Devils are in their holding pattern as they won the NYSAIS Class B title over 2 weeks ago now and still have over 2 more weeks to go until the NYS Federation Tournament of Champions gets underway for them. It will without a doubt be a long way but they backcourt depth and shooting abilities of Poly from the outside should give them a strong chance to take on, and take down anyone in their path come Federation time.

3) Summit Academy (22-4)- Going down to the wire against the defending PSAL Class B champions, Summit went to the hot hand in Jordan Council '20 in the final seconds as the senior leader was able to pull up from 12 feet and knock down the game winner at the buzzer to fly the Eagles into Sunday's semifinals with a 64-62 victory. Next up for Summit will be Achievement First in what will be a true road game for Summit Academy with the winner earning their first title game appearance.

4) Achievement First (21-5)- Speaking of Achievement First, they held a commanding lead on Saturday over Fannie Lou Hamer in the PSAL quarterfinals going into the fourth quarter up by 11 and already looking down the road to a semifinal game next Sunday. That almost cost them as Fannie Lou made a tremendous late game run and had a shot to win it at the buzzer that fell just off the rim as Emmanuel Smith '20 had a double-double down low to help his team to a 55-54 win, with the semifinals and a game with Summit Academy up next.

5) Adams Street Academy (19-5)- As the #13 seed entering the PSAL playoffs not many looked at the Eagles and marked them down for a deep postseason run but here we are as they knocked off a pair of Queens schools this week, beating Townsend Harris on the road on Wednesday 63-49 in the Round of 16, and then it was Maspeth who Adams Street handled with ease in the quarter's as Matt Bradshaw '21 had 30 for the Eagles to help them to a 73-61 win, moving them into Sunday's semifinals against the #1 seed in Uncommon Charter.

6) Dwight School (18-9)- When you look at and analyze the run that the Lions made this year with a young team that returns its entire core for next season it's impressive to look at what they were able to do this year. They won the ACIS title and made a strong NYSAIS playoff run, only losing by single digits to the eventual champions in Poly Prep on the road in the semifinals Richard Nweke '22 is one of NYC's brighter young stars with an even better season surely to come in 2020-2021 for the Lions.

7) South Bronx Prep (18-8)- While the defending Class B champions in the PSAL had bigger goals, they fought hard until the very end this season as they took Summit Academy down to the wire as Steven Turner '21 had yet another triple-double in Saturday's quarterfinal contest, but it wasn't enough as a bucket at the buzzer did in South Bronx Prep with the Cougars falling 64-62 to finish out their season. With a good amount of talent to be back though expect to hear about South Bronx Prep again in a years time.

8) Collegiate School (20-7)- It's been a number of years now since Collegiate has been among the best of the best in the Ivy League, NYSAIS, and Class B overall but here they are once again proving themselves to be in the mix of the very best. The Dutchmen had strong wins over the course of the season over Poly Prep and Dwight, and made their way into the NYSAIS semifinals before falling to Portledge on the road 57-54 to end their season, but prove to observers watching that the Dutchmen are back.

9) Bathgate Educational Complex (18-6)- You have to give a good amount of credit to the Bulldogs as they were scrappy and fought hard from start to finish on Saturday in the PSAL quarterfinals against #1 seed Uncommon Charter. Bathgate were within 3 going into the fourth quarter but the struggled down the stretch to get any sort of offensive rhythm as the Bulldogs would eventually fall to the Sabers 58-49. Jeffrey Agyeman '20 had 12 points to pace Bathgate in the loss as they showed all they were made of throughout the season.

10) Fannie Lou Hamer (22-7)- Having to play a true road game on Saturday in the PSAL quarterfinals against Achievement First wasn't exactly a fair situation for the Panthers but you have to play with the hand you are dealt and Fannie Lou hung in and fought back as after trailing by 11 entering the fourth quarter they climbed back and had a chance for the win in the closing seconds. The Panthers couldn't get that final shot to go through though as Anthony Rose '20 had 18 points in his final high school game as Fannie Lou Hamer's season ended with a 55-54 defeat to Achievement First.

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