MANHATTAN, NY- For nearly 15 years now the gold standard of PSAL basketball in the Bronx has been Wings Academy. Having made 13 straight appearances in the Bronx Borough Championship Game, Wings had the chance on Thursday evening to make it 14 straight when they took on Walton.
Playing with nothing to lose being a school that plays in Class A, Walton was able to go toe to toe with Wings for much of the game, but with Boubacar Kamissoko '17 keeping the Bronx power in front early on, it was clutch shots down the stretch from Elijah Chapman '17 that ultimately gave Wings the cushion needed to put away the pesky Wildcats, and officially make it 14 Bronx Borough Championship Game appearances in a row as they knocked off Walton 59-47.
Wings was able to jump out early with Kamissoko able to connect from the FT line and the elbows on pull up jumpers, but Walton was able to fight back and tie the game up at 13 when Andres Rivera '17 was able to putback his own miss down low.
It was a struggle for Wings to get much of anything going offensively in the opening half as they struggled to get good shots for the most part, and Kamissoko knew that with the likes of Jose Perez '17 not finding a rhythm, it was paramount that he steps up and take a bigger role.
"I felt the need to step up and really be more aggressive since Jose's shots weren't falling that much," Kamissoko admitted. "I knew I had to pick it up."
He did that plus more as he poured in 15 first half points, and led Wings on a strong final three minutes of the 2nd quarter to put them up 27-21 at the break.
There weren't a ton of positives offensively for Wings in the opening half, but the fact that they limited Walton to just one made three was considered a definite win for them as they denied the Wildcats long range threats from really getting started, and that continued defensive intensity was going to be key for Wings to close out the game.
The lead would grow to double digits for the first time in the game with 2:24 left in the 3rd quarter when Perez was able to finish down low off an inbounds feed. It seemed Wings was finding their way, but right back came Derek Smith '17 who sank a long three from the right side to once again close the gap.
It really wasn't until the early stages of the 4th quarter that Wings were able to take a comfortable lead as Chapman was able to drain a pair of long distance shots from the left wing which led to an 8-0 run to put them up 53-37 with 4:16 to go in the game.
Credit to Walton though, they never took their foot off the gas and continued to fight and creep back closer as Rivera kept finding ways to score inside, but it became too big of a deficit to overcome. The Wildcats gave a great showing, proving that as a Class A team they could compete with the big boys, but this big boy was just too much in the end as Wings Academy were able to pull away and take the 59-47 win.
Kamissoko had 17 points to lead the way for Wings, while Perez added 14 points, and Chapman chipped in with 12 points in what was a strong defensive game for them, but not the kind of offensive showing the head coach Billy Turnage was hoping for.
"Defensively I didn't think we were bad, I will take 47 points, offensively though we sucked tonight," Turnage stated. "A lot of it had to do with forcing shots and not recognizing the open man and just moving the ball."
In a losing effort, it was a fantastic game for Rivera who scored a game high 22 points for Walton, with Smith adding 10 for a team that should be a favorite in the upcoming PSAL Class A City Playoffs.
It's Wings Academy though on their way to their 14th straight PSAL Bronx Borough Championship Game as they look for their 5th title in a row when they take on their rivals in Eagle Academy on Saturday from Queens College.
Always a competitive game with Wings and Eagle meet, Turnage is expecting it to be another good one on Saturday. He knows his team needs to clean up some things on the offensive end of the floor though, believing they will need to bring their best to get the job done.
"I expect the same thing we always get when we play Eagle, the same thing when we play anybody. They are going to bring their A game, we are going to hopefully bring our A game, and it should be a good contest."