The PSAL Queens/Bronx Borough Championships Jump-Off
FLUSHING, NY – Queens College was the site where the PSAL Borough Championships got underway. On Friday, teams from Queens followed by teams from the Bronx battled to determine who ruled their respective boroughs. In both cases the underdogs prevailed.
Bowne Downs Dozo to Rule Queens
Exerting enormous energy to beat Francis Lewis in the PSAL semis on Thursday after losing to them five times in a row, the John Bowne Wildcats could have easily wilted after achieving that monumental goal. That along with playing back-to-back games would have been an acceptable excuse for losing but Bowne was not about losing. They were about playing their style of basketball no matter what.
“We wanna control tempo,” said Wildcats head coach John Tsapelas. “We wanna run when we wanna run.” That strategy significantly slowed down the Cardozo Judges who were all about the up-tempo. The end result was a 59 – 57 loss for Dozo and Bowne’s first borough chip in 2 years.
Paced by sophomore point guard Amadou Diallo ‘21, the Wildcats took a 30 – 20 lead into the halftime locker room. “My coach told me to take control of the ball, lead my team and slow it down,” said Diallo.
With first half buckets coming from Tyshawn Trail ‘21 and Tyrese Apple ‘19 and interior work by Cherif Diarra ’20, it looked on the surface as if the Wildcats were going to cruise to victory. In the second half, however, the Judges unleased its secret weapon. Experience.
Falling behind by as much as 15 points in the third quarter, Jaylen Davis '19 and Taj Anderson '19 initiated an aerial attack for Dozo that began to narrow the gap. With Errol Evik White ‘20 pounding the paint for the Judges pulled to within 6 points at the end of three quarter and capped off a 10 – 2 run that gave them a 1-point lead midway through the final quarter. “We’re young,” said Tsapelas. “We got off sync a little bit, then we got back in sync.”
In a bit a freefall, Bowne with Diarra at the helm was eventually able to recoil and regain control of the tempo, lifted up by baskets from Aguibou Balde ’21 and Apple. Both teams gave 110% down the stretch and Cardozo was within a point of Bowne with 21.1 seconds left in regulations but made free-throws by the Wildcats and missed free-throws by the Judges became the determining factor when all was said and done.
Coach Tsepelas applauded the efforts of Diallo, his young point guard. “He’s very very quick and he’s got a very high basketball I.Q.”
Trail and Balde led Bowne with 14 points apiece with Apple and Diallo adding 12 points and 11 points respectively. White was the high man for Cardozo followed by Anderson who contributed 13 points.
J.F.K. Closes Eagle Academy to win over the Bronx
It’s been seven years since the John F. Kennedy Knights tasted a PSAL Bronx Borough Championship but all that changed when they edged Eagle Academy, 44 – 42 to take home the hardware. As soon the victory was official, instead if running out to center court to celebrate, they all ran to their head coach Johnnie Mathis.
In his 32nd year of coaching and in failing health, an emotional Mathis said that this win was big for his team but his team thought otherwise. “I always tell them that I’ve won already and then they said no, we’re winning for you.”
The game moved at a snail’s pace from the onset. With 2 minutes left in the warm-up quarter, the Knights were only up 4 – 3. Leading by four to start the second quarter the Knights received offense Justin Dabarez ’19 who netted three 3-pointers. Eagle Academy scored sparely with the exception of DaMarco Watson ‘20 and the Eagles fell back by seven before closing the gap to 19 – 16 off a buzzer beater by Anderson Nesbit ‘20.
A strong second half spearheaded by Edwin Takyi ’19 kept J.F.K. barely in front of as hard charging Eagle Academy. The game was knotted at 31 midway through the fourth and again at 42 with a minute left to play as Edwin Santiago ‘21 scored both times for the Eagles but the Knights never relinquished their lead. In the end it would be a pass from Adam Kahlaoui ‘21 to Tayki with 8.2 second left to play that closed the deal for J.F.K.
Takyi led J.F.K. with 15 points with Dabarez adding 11 points. Watson led Eagle Academy with 14 point with no other Eagle achieving double-digits.