PSAL Final Three Quarterfinals
BROOKLYN, NY- While one of the PSAL Class AA quarterfinals took place on Tuesday at Queens College, the other three were held on Wednesday evening at Uncommon Charter H.S. in Brooklyn with berth's in Saturday's semifinals awaiting the winners.
All three of the games proved to be competitive throughout though the favorites all managed to pull through and advance, though not before receiving some scares.
It was a good day of action with a lot of NYC's best taking the court so let's now see how the games unfolded as we recap the play from the PSAL's elite eight.
Thomas Jefferson over Eagle Academy, 62 - 48
It was a crazy situation for the Orange Wave on Wednesday as they walked into Uncommon Charter H.S. as they were told that their head coach Lawrence "Bud" Pollard was being suspended by the PSAL for issues regarding the use of players that the league considered to be ineligible during the course of the season.
Without Pollard manning the sidelines it was his right-hand man and close friend Seldon Jefferson who took the reins with Jefferson not losing a step, leading by as many as 21 in the second half to roll past Eagle Academy, 62-48.
Everything happened so fast before the game that Jefferson admitted that Pollard didn't even have a chance to tell his players that he wasn't going to be allowed on the sidelines, telling NYCHoops.net that it wasn't a situation that he felt needed to be explained in that moment to the players with them all to a man understanding the task at hand.
"We found out about a half hour before the game but honestly we have been doing this for 15 years," Jefferson explained. "Our staff has pretty much been together for 15 years so this is nothing new, we coach every game together and regardless of who the coach is we speak as one voice so we were ok."
Saying that they as a coaching staff and a team are in this together, they all knew the schemes and what needed to be done, it was just a matter of executing and doing what it took to advance past a strong and solid Eagle Academy team.
It was a slow start for the Orange Wave as guard Kareem Welch '19 admitted that in the cold gym it took a while for most of the Jefferson players to get warmed up, which accounted for their struggles from the outside in the opening quarter. Eagle would score the final five points of the first with Edwin Santiago '21 draining a three, and then DaMarco Watson '20 finishing in the lane to tie things up after one quarter at 12.
Dashan Crittenden '19 was a big spark off the bench for Thomas Jefferson in the second quarter as he hit back to back three's early in the stanza to give the Orange Wave the lead, and with Kevin Tabb '20 taking Eagle defenders off the dribble and scoring in the lane it was the underrated players of Jefferson who helped carry them to a 31-22 lead at the break.
Some may have looked at Pollard not being on the sideline as a reason for the slow start by Jefferson but Welch said that wasn't a focus for him or his teammates feeling as if this is a team who constantly sees things thrown in their path to success so they were ready to come back and quickly overcome.
"We have overcome a lot of adversities a lot of times in games so we knew what it took," Welch said. "We locked in, we focused, and we executed."
Coming out for the third quarter it was a more aggressive Jefferson team who made more of a consistent effort to get out in transition as Jaquan Carlos '21 was able to slice and dice up the floor, with the likes of Tabb, Welch, and Thomas Porter '20 beneficiaries of the fast-paced tempo that the Orange Wave were setting.
The lead would balloon up to as big as 44-24 for Jefferson midway through the third, but Eagle never quit as Joel Simpson '19 was big for the Bronx power in getting his shot off and connecting, while Charles Onogwu '19 was a physical force down low and was dominating the paint to see the Jefferson lead pushed all the way down to 9 at one point early in the fourth.
Welch would come back to sting Eagle though as after getting the deficit down to 50-41 it was the senior guard who drained a three to start an 8-0 to essentially put the game out of reach once and for all.
With Thomas Jefferson hitting on 8 three's in the game they did an excellent job of converting on their opportunities from the perimeter, and with the Orange Wave getting strong performances out of just about everyone they were able to overcome all the chaos off the court and find a way to advance to Saturday's semifinals with a 62-48 victory over Eagle Academy.
It was Tabb who led all scorers with 20 points for Jefferson in the win, but with Carlos adding 15, Welch and Crittenden scoring 11 each, and Porter chipping in with 8 it was a true all-around team effort that helped the Orange Wave overcome and take home the win.
In the defeat for Eagle Academy it was Simpson in his final game scoring a team high 15 points, with Watson also adding 13 points for the Bronx team who even with this loss proved once again to be among New York City's best.
There may have been a lot of hubbub leading into Wednesday's game with Pollard's suspension but as Jefferson said it was next man up situation as that theory goes not only for the players, but the coaches as well. Everyone responded the way he says he hoped they would, and that while Pollard will be missed Jefferson says a lot of what is to come for this group is going to be for their missing head man as they go forward to try and challenge for a city title.
"We play for everyone in our Thomas Jefferson community," Jefferson said. "Bud happens to be the leader of our Thomas Jefferson community so obviously we want to do it for him."
South Shore beats back John Bowne, 54 - 43
It was far from the performance that Vikings head coach Shawn Mark was looking for from his group on Wednesday but getting a strong second half overall from his group and 14 points in the game from guard Kadary Richmond '19 allowed the #1 seed South Shore to pull through with the 11-point victory.
When the halftime buzzer sounded it was the Wildcats leading South Shore 24-23 and maybe the most upset person in the gym was Mark who said he went into the locker room furious after what he said was one of the worst halves of basketball his team has played all season.
"I am going to bust them in the gym tomorrow," Mark said. "We can't get cocky and confident, we have to be killers out there."
Feeling as if his South Shore team was playing into Bowne's hands by slowing down the tempo and forcing up three point shots early in the shot clock, Mark implored his team to get the tempo pushed at a pace that they were more accustomed to, knowing that if they could run out more it would more than likely wear out the Wildcats and play into their advantage.
That's nearly exactly what happened as Richmond and Femi Odukale '19 did a good job at leaking out to get easy baskets off of missed Bowne shots as once the outlet came to either of the two-star guards it was breakout dunk time for the Vikings.
It was still just a 3-point lead for South Shore going to the fourth though but starting the final stanza on an 8-0 run in the first 1:14 of the quarter allowed the Vikings to take a double-digit lead for the first time in the game and give them the breathing room they had been looking for.
Playing without the services of big man Isaiah Richards '19 who was out with a minor knee injury, South Shore didn't control the glass as well as they are used to, but even while not playing their best the Vikings still were able to do enough as Richmond finished with 14 points, while Odukale, Philpps Joseph '19, and Dwight Davis Jr. '19 each had 11 points to lead their team to the 54-43 win.
For the Wildcats in the loss it was young lead guard Amadou Diallo '21 who had 11 points to pace Bowne who only lose two players on the roster to graduation meaning you can expect to hear a lot more from this young team in the future.
It's South Shore moving on through to the semifinals on Saturday, and while Mark wasn't happy with how his team played, he is confident they can get things back on track and keep the run to a title going, but only if they play the right way, the way he says he knows they can.
"We just can't be overconfident," Mark said. "I think we came in today thinking we were better than them and you can't do that, and I know we won't be like that again."
Wings Academy knocks off Abraham Lincoln, 62 - 51
In the final quarterfinal of the day it will be Wings Academy awaiting South Shore on Saturday as they got off to an 11-0 lead early and never really faltered after that in cruising past the Railsplitters, 62-51.
Losing to JFK in the PSAL Bronx Borough Quarterfinals was not exactly what Wings head coach Billy Turnage expected from his group, but it may have been a blessing in disguise he said as well.
"I think that loss really woke them up, especially the seniors who realized that the next time we lose it's all over," Turnage said.
They came into the playoffs as the #12 seed, a seed that Turnage admitted was fair with how Wings finished out the regular season, but he also believed that this team with the talent they had was capable of something special, feeling that while others may have doubted them, they could still make a deep run.
After going to Staten Island last week and defeating the #5 seed in Curtis the momentum was back on Wings' side, and with Lincoln knocking off the #4 seed in Thurgood Marshall Academy, the bracket was wide open for them to truly make their run.
Taking full advantage Wings came out of the gate hot on Wednesday as Marquel Jackson '19 was able to convert on second chance opportunities inside, with Mahamadou Nimaga '19 able to get down the lane and beat his defenders one on one to help build up the quick 11-0 lead.
That lead brought even more confident to the Wings players as they knew that once up it would be hard to take the game away from them.
Lincoln did narrow the gap to as little as 26-23 late in the second quarter, but with Wings scoring the last 5 points of the half to take a 31-23 lead into the break, Turnage said that was a major turning point for his team the rest of the way.
"We knew that they would make a run in the second quarter, and they did, but I think we closed it on a 5-0 run to open it back up a little bit and that definitely relaxed my guys a bit going into halftime," Turnage explained.
From that point on it seemed that Wings were in control as the lead for them hovered around 10-15 for most of the rest of the way as Nimaga closed things out with a big fourth quarter where he scored 9 of his game high 20 points to lead Wings back into the semifinals with a 62-51 victory over Lincoln.
While Nimaga had 20 to lead Wings, the Railsplitters in the loss were led by the 17 points of guard Junior Sutherland '19.
What the win by Wings did was make sure that it wasn't an All-Brooklyn PSAL semifinals as they will be the lone non-Brooklyn participant at Queens College on Saturday, and while many may have been looking forward to the Brooklyn showdowns, Nimaga said he is happy to spoil the party, and let everyone know that Wings is here to play.
"Everyone wanted us to lose because they all wanted the Brooklyn schools in the final four but we weren't going to let that happen, not this year," Nimaga said with a smile.