New York High School: Benjamin Banneker

Recruiting: Connell, Williams commit

January, 27, 2012
1/27/12
1:26
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Most recruits think about what a school will mean to them over the next four years of their lives. For Christ the King senior guard Rayne Connell, as she made her decision to attend UPenn instead of Southern Methodist, she was thinking a decade ahead.

"Overall, I know I love basketball and everything but I really had to think about what I was going to do 10 years from now," Connell said. "What school ultimately was going to help me with my future? As much as I love basketball, I've been playing since I was five, and that's like every kid's dream to play in the Big East, but at the end of the day, you have to really think about academically what you are going to do."

Connell committed to UPenn on Wednesday night, citing the total package that UPenn can offer to her and the distance factor. The Queens native, who is a 90-average student, is more comfortable spending her next four years in Philadelphia, a major city like New York City, than having to be in Dallas, where Southern Methodist is located.

"Everything they had to offer, the academics, the loan, the degree as well as the coaching staff," Connell said about UPenn. "They had a lot to offer. I'm very comfortable being around there, especially in a city coming from a major city as well. Overall everything they had to offer, it was just a complete package I couldn't turn down."

The senior guard wasn't completely decided on UPenn the entire time, saying that neither team was always ahead of each other, but finally decided on the Quakers after getting accepted to the school on Wednesday.

Since September, she said she had to take several tests, including the SAT and ACT, to get the proper board scores. Connell also had to go through the process of applications, essays and interviews and finally was told by the Dean of Admissions on Wednesday that she would be able to attend in the Class of 2016.

"As soon as I got accepted it was kind of like I've been through such a long process and everything, this is what I'm supposed to do and what I feel the most comfortable with," Connell said. "That's what I went with. And I love it. There's nothing that I don't love about Penn."

Well, there is one thing. The rigorous standards and process to get accepted into the school is something the senior could have done without.

"Except that," Connell said with a laugh.

WILLIAMS TO FORDHAM: Benjamin Banneker standout junior guard Africa Williams, who led the Public Schools Athletic League in scoring last season, committed to Fordham earlier this week. Williams is averaging 28.3 points and 8.1 this season, according to stats available on the PSAL website.

"It's an excellent program and I really like the coaching staff," Williams said. "When I was visiting there, they made me feel like I was part of the team."

Williams was also considering West Virginia, Drexel, Seton Hall and Cincinnati and believes that Fordham is a good fit for her. Her coach, Jonathan Anderson, believes that the junior has been able become a more well rounded player over the past few seasons.

"She gotten better at being more of a versatile player," Anderson said. "She can score and play the point and at times she plays in the middle of the zone and can grab rebounds. She's just an all-around player."

Girls basketball poll: Dec. 12

December, 12, 2011
12/12/11
12:10
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Things slowed down considerably this week in girls hoops. There weren't as many upsets and a lot of teams had very easy weeks, schedule wise. One important thing to note: the reigning and 13-time PSAL champion, Murry Bergtraum, has been ousted from the poll after its third loss of the year. Let's take a look at the poll.

1. Nazareth (0-0)/(LW: 1): Nazareth hosts Mary Louis Academy on Monday night and then will face Bishop Loughlin. Not an easy schedule to open up.

2. South Shore (5-1)/(LW: 3): South Shore is 5-1 and got some revenge against Murry Bergtraum with a win at home on Friday night. South Shore might be the team to beat in the PSAL this year.

3. Molloy (4-0)/(LW: 5): Molloy moves up two spots in the poll after picking up wins against Holy Trinity and St. Mary's this week. Molloy plays Loughlin in a big game this week.

4. Bishop Ford (3-1)/(LW: 7): Bishop Ford makes the biggest move in the poll as it jumps up to No. 4 after its impressive win against Christ the King last week.

5. Christ the King (0-2)/(LW: 2): CK is off to a rough start with losses to Bishop Ford and Archbishop Carroll but will be in the thick of things all year.

6. Moore Catholic (2-0)/(LW: 6): Moore Catholic defeated NDA to improve to 2-0 on the season. Two league games await this league before it leaves for a holiday tournament.

7. Bishop Loughlin (2-0)/(LW: 8): Bishop Louglin had an impressive win against Mary Louis but will be tested this week against Nazareth and Archbiship Molloy.

8. Mary Louis Academy (1-2)/(LW: 4): Mary Louis lost to Loughlin and will try to avoid its third loss of the season when it faces Nazareth on Monday night.

9. Benjamin Banneker (3-0)/(LW: 9): Banneker is 4-0 on the season after defeating Boys & Girls. The Lady Warriors face Francis Lewis and Brooklyn Collegiate this week in league play.

10. McKee/SI Tech (5-0)/(LW: unranked): MSIT is off to an undefeated start with a 4-0 record in league play. It beat CSIHS/McCown and New Dorp this week.

Girls basketball poll: Dec. 5

December, 5, 2011
12/05/11
1:54
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After a hectic first week, the action slowed down this week with not as many upsets. Nazareth and Christ the King will both start their seasons this weekend and officially get all the teams underway in the city. We have some great matchups between top 10 teams this week.

1. Nazareth (0-0)/(LW: 1): Nazareth has a great game to open its season as it will host Mary Louis Academy on Saturday.

2. Christ the King (0-0)/(LW: 2): CK starts its season Monday as it heads to Bishop Ford for a showdown of two top 10 teams.

3. South Shore (3-1)/(LW: 3): South Shore is 3-1 with three league wins and one loss to a nationally ranked foe. It has a huge game at home against Bergtraum on Friday night.

4. Mary Louis Academy (1-1)/(LW: 4): Mary Louis had this week off from action and gets back to it with a road game against Bishop Loughlin on Monday night.

5. Molloy (2-0)/(LW: 5): Molloy picked up a quality win against a non-conference foe this weekend and takes on Holy Trinity this week.

6. Moore Catholic (1-0)/(LW: 6): Moore Catholic got its season started off with an impressive win at JFK on Saturday as it easily handled the Knights.

7. Bishop Ford (2-1)/(LW: 8): Bishop Ford moves up the rankings after defeating Sachem East on Saturday and hosts Christ the King on Monday.

8. Bishop Loughlin (1-0)/(LW: 7): Bishop Louglin had the week off and moves a spot down in the rankings with Bishop Ford winning. It gets to host Christ the King on Monday.

9. Benjamin Banneker (3-0)/(LW: 9): Banneker is now 3-0 on the season after wins against Midwood and Grand Street Campus.

10. Murry Bergtraum (2-2)/(LW: 10): Bergtraum picked up two wins this week to even its record heading into its big game against South Shore on Friday.

Girls basketball poll: Nov. 28

November, 28, 2011
11/28/11
11:24
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Crazy might be the most appropriate word to describe the first week of girls basketball in New York City. Murry Bergtraum lost two games in a row. JFK and Francis Lewis also lost. Three teams fell out of the rankings. We can only hope each week from here on brings as much excitement as the first one.

1. Nazareth (0-0)/(LW: 1): Nazareth is still waiting to showcase its talents to the world after being ranked No. 1 in the nation to start the season.

2. Christ the King (0-0)/(LW: 2): CK looks more like the biggest threat to Nazareth in New York City with Bergtraum's losses.

3. South Shore (0-0)/(LW: 4): South Shore may be the new team to beat in the PSAL with Bergtraum uncharacteristically losing twice.

4. Mary Louis Academy (1-1)/(LW: 5): Mary Louis went 1-1 at the Big Apple vs. Big Peach Battle, falling in its final game.

5. Molloy (1-0)/(LW: 6): Molloy moves up one spot in the ranking after defeating Sacred Heart in its opener this weekend.

6. Moore Catholic (0-0)/(LW: 8): Without even playing a game, Moore Catholic moves all the way up to No. 6 in the rankings.

7. Bishop Loughlin (1-0)/(LW: unranked): Perhaps we underrated Loughlin. Loughlin defeated Murry Bergtraum on a last-second play this weekend.

8. Bishop Ford (1-1)/(LW: unranked): Bishop Ford enters the rankings after a win against JFK. It fell to St. Anthony's on Sunday.

9. Benjamin Banneker (1-0)/(LW: unranked): Did Banneker send a message to the rest of the league with its win against Murry Bergtraum?

10. Murry Bergtraum (0-2)/(LW: 3): This is weird to see, Murry Bergtraum ranked 10th. But after losing two games, they fall out of the top three.

Girls basketball preview

November, 21, 2011
11/21/11
12:58
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Basketball season is upon us. Here at ESPNNewYork.com, we break down the top teams, players and games to get you prepared for the upcoming season.

THE TITLE FAVORITES

Nazareth: Despite graduating three Division-I players, the Lady Kingsmen should once again be the team to beat in the city. Transfer students Brianna Butler, Sadie Edwards, and Destini Feagin will join a formidable core that includes floor general Darius Faulk and the young sharpshooter Bianca Cuevas.

Christ the King: There is no doubt that the Royals took a hit with the loss of Player of the Year Bria Smith, but she left behind one of the best core groups in the city. Sophomore Sierra Calhoun will have to take on a larger role and will have Lauren Nuss, Rayne Connell, and Taylor Butigan returning as support.

Murry Bergtraum: The Blazers will be playing this season with heavy hearts as their expected leader, Tayshana "Chicken" Murphy, was killed this past September. They will try to use her memory as motivation as Shequana Harris will try to lead them to their 14th consecutive PSAL title.

South Shore: Seniors Fannisha Price and Jenice Winter have now gotten to Madison Square Garden twice and lost both times. Head coach Anwar Gladden said that he has never seen such a focused group as they are determined to get back and win it all this time.

THE CONTENDERS

Moore Catholic: Mavericks head coach Rich Postiglione admitted that he was concerned about his team as they transition from a more physical one to one that is about shooting and speed. Luckily for him, he has two of the best shooters on Staten Island in Jamie O'Hare, who transferred from the now closed St. Peter's, and Christina Rubin.

Mary Louis: The Hilltoppers lost a key player in Karin Robinson, but guards Reana Mohamed and Jasmine Nwajei are returning and if talented freshmen Mei Lyn Bautista and Jordan Agustus can contribute, TMLA should be among the strongest teams in the city.

Archbishop Molloy: The Stanners have a talented squad lead by Amani Tatum and Carolyn Gallagher, but they will have to adjust to new coach Scott Lagas, a new system, and injuries to two players Alexa Dietrich and Dallas Pralle, who should be out until at least January.

JFK: The Lady Knights went 10-2 last year and only lost in the PSAL semifinals to eventual champion Bergtraum. That’s important because they only graduated three seniors and have starters Joyalevern Mcfarland, Deaisia Acklin, and Leshuana Phinazee returning.

THE SLEEPERS

Francis Lewis : The Patriots are very similar to JFK in that they were both good teams last year that made it to the semifinals and have key starters returning. Coach Stephen Tsai said that seniors Jasmine Davis, Tyese Purvis, and Jazmine Hamlet display such strong leadership that they are often seen helping him run practices.

McKee/SI Tech: Curtis is the sexy pick for the best PSAL team in Staten Island, but Seagulls head coach Peter LaMarca isn’t ready to cede the island. He has four starters coming back including Kaitlyn Astel, whom he called one of the top 10 players in the city and perhaps the most underrated.

Bishop Ford
: The Falcons didn't like how their season went last year and nearly the same squad is returning this year to prove that it was a fluke. Point guard Aaliyah Lewis will lead this team offensively, but she will need Shanice Vaughan, Ajannae Gates, and Jeane Jennings to step up their games as well to prove their doubters wrong.

Benjamin Banneker: As a sophomore last season, Africa Williams lead the entire PSAL with 29.06 points per game and coach Jonathan Anderson said she is just getting better with age. She joins captain and junior Jenipher Rodriguez and "secret weapon" sophomore Diara Adger to form a core that will be strong this year and next.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Nazareth guard Darius Faulk; Nazareth guard Brianna Butler; Christ the King guard Sierra Calhoun; Murry Bergtraum guard Shequana Harris; South Shore forward Fannisha Price; St. Peter's guard Jamie O'Hare; MSIT guard Kaitlyn Astel; JFK guard Joy McFarland; Molloy forward Carolyn Gallagher; Mary Louis guard Reana Mohamed

FIVE GAMES TO WATCH

Chris the King at Nazareth—Dec. 3
Murry Bergtraum at South Shore—Dec. 9
Murry Bergtraum vs. Mary Louis Academy—Dec. 18
South Shore at JFK—Jan. 20
Nazareth at Mary Louis Academy—Feb. 1

Girls PSAL AA Quarterfinals roundup

March, 5, 2011
3/05/11
4:17
PM ET
While Francis Lewis defeated McKee/Staten Island Tech and Murry Bergtraum bested Manhattan Cetner for Science and Math to advance to the Public Schools Athletic League "AA" semifinals, two other teams punched their tickets for next Tuesday’s doubleheader at Hunter College. Here is what happened in the other quarterfinal games.

No. 2 South Shore 62, No. 10 Midwood 41: The final score does not reflect the competitiveness of this game. Midwood (11-14), playing in its 10th straight quarterfinals, played an inspired and composed brand of ball to start the game and actually led the favored Vikings at halftime 27-25. Eventually, South Shore’s talent took over as the Vikings used a 17-6 run to open up a 42-33 lead after three quarters South Shore (22-5) was led by Jasmine Odom, Fannisha Price and Tatiana Wilson, who each scored 15. Midwood was paced by Monet Keane Dawes’ 12 points.

No. 4 John F. Kennedy 75, No. 5 Benamin Banneker 63: John. F. Keenedy used its fast-paced transition offense to run Benjamin Banneker off the court in a game that was never really close. The Lady Knights led by double-digits after each quarter as they improved to 18-9 on the season. JFK had four scorers in double digits, with Deaisia Acklin leading the way with 14 points. Banneker (17-9) had the two highest scorers in Amanda Fields (25 points) and Africa Williams (22 points).

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