Lincoln High School senior guard Shaquille Stokes made up for not contributing in the PSAL AA semi-finals to help the Railsplitters beat Cardozo 56-54 Wednesday night.
Stokes, who says he has received multiple offers including University of Cincinnati among others, controlled the tempo of the first half for the Railsplitters, as he nailed three, three pointers to go along with his 18 points in the first half. He was not alone in helping out the team, as junior guard Kamari Murphy contributed toward the production with nine points.
Cardozo, however, with senior guard Chris Gayot (15 points) did not want to see his season end, as he helped the team build on a comeback. While seniors Shelton Mickell (10 points), and Marquis Barnett chipped in toward the comeback, it was sophomore Jermaine Lawrence (18 points), who hit a three pointer late in the third quarter to give Cardozo their first lead of the game. Barnett made sure his team stayed with the lead with a put back at the buzzer to give Cardozo a one-point advantage going into the fourth.
The run continued in the fourth, as scores from Gayot and Lawrence put Cardozo ahead 53-49. As Cardozo tried to make a push to keep their lead, Lincoln stopped them in their tracks with quick scores from Stokes, who made only four points in the second half (all in the fourth to finish with 22 points). Though his scoring dropped dramatically, his assists that went up, as he had eight, most of which went to an open Murphy (14 points, 16 rebounds, 4 blocks). While Lincoln went up ahead, Cardozo stayed close. Barnett had a chance tie the game with just 30 seconds left, but missed a critical free throw that led to Lincoln freshman Isaiah Whitehead making two critical free throws to put Lincoln ahead for good, as they go on to the championship game.
"He's one of the best guards in the city," Murphy said of Stokes. "To me he's Mr. Basketball, so you have to give him his props."
Lincoln coach Dwayne Morton was excited about going to Madison Square Garden for the PSAL championship, the place he has been for several years. "It's always good to be back."
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