New York High School: Brianna Butler

ESPNNewYork All-New York City girls hoops team

April, 24, 2012
4/24/12
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It's been a wild and exciting year for girls basketball in New York City and its time to hand out some hardware. Our high school staff has collaborated to bring you its Big Apple All-City team for the past year. Here's who we saw as the best of the best.


Naz's Butler scores in All-American game

March, 29, 2012
3/29/12
11:03
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Nazareth senior and future Syracuse Orange forward Brianna Butler scored a point in Wednesday night's McDonald's All-American Game at the United Center in Chicago, Ill. Butler played on the East team, which won 79-78 on a last-second free throw.

Butler played 11:40 and shot 0-for-2 from the field but hit one of two free throws, according to ESPNNewYork.com's unofficial tally. She also had a turnover, an assist, a rebound and a foul in that time. She played 7:45 in the first half and just 3:55 in the second half.

Butler, a transfer student, just completed her first year at the Brooklyn school and led Nazareth to a successful season. The Lady Kingsmen won the Brooklyn/Queens Division I title, the CHSAA Class AA championship and advanced to the New York State Federation tournament, where they lost in the semifinals.

Nazareth finished the season ranked No. 1 in ESPNNewYork.com's New York City poll and 20th in the Powerade Fab 50 national poll. The Lady Kingsmen were the preseason No. 1 team.

The 5-11 guard is the No. 13 prospect in the country and is headed to Syracuse.

Rapid Reax: Nazareth 68, Christ the King 58

February, 21, 2012
2/21/12
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Nazareth had a tall task on Tuesday against the Christ the King. It was playing in a meaningless game that it felt it shouldn’t be playing anyway, coming off a tough loss to a team that it had already beaten by 40 points earlier this season, and to top it off, was playing without Syracuse-bound All-American Brianna Butler.

None of that mattered, though, as No. 1 Nazareth was as hungry as ever to beat No. 3 Christ the King and bested them, 68-58, behind an impressive 28-point performance from sophomore Sadie Edwards. Nazareth improved to 15-2 while Christ the King fell to 12-12.

Tuesday's game was the rescheduled contest for the Jan. 7 game that had been originally canceled by Christ the King following Nazareth coach Apache Paschall's death. Nazareth had asked for a forfeit but the schools' principals agreed instead to replay the game.

“We can't come out flat anymore,” Edwards said after the victory. “It's more of a wake-up call. It's better for us to lose now than to do that and lose in the playoffs. Today we didn't come out flat at all, we turned it around. It's better to get that loss in now instead of in two weeks and it is the end of our season.”

Nazareth co-coach Lauren Best said that the loss to Bishop Ford on Saturday may not have just spurred them on for this game, but may have a lasting effect going into the playoffs.

“I think the last game was important because it knocked the girls off their high horse and I think they needed that a little bit,” Best said. “I think we did a good job bouncing back today. It is important for us to end our season with a victory. You don't want to go into the playoffs flat.”

BUTLER OUT WITH KNEE INJURY: Butler sat out in this game because of a knee injury she sustained Saturday in the loss to Ford. She said it was nothing serious and she would probably be playing if this game had playoff implications, but instead she rested and will be back in time for the playoffs.

EDWARDS SHOWING AGGRESSIVENESS: With Butler out in this game, Edwards talked about how it was important for her to come out with some extra aggression and she certainly did. She made the first basket of the game and had 10 points in the first four and a half minutes as Nazareth jumped out to a 14-2 lead that ended up being the difference.

“Butler is a great scorer, but she brings more to the court than just great scoring,” Edwards explained. “She passes the ball, she rebounds, she's a leader, she brings a lot of intangibles and with her being out it was important for me to step up. I was just aggressive from the start, I made shots and I kept making shots throughout the game."

SIERRA’S QUIET 30: Sierra Calhoun struggled early on in the game and appeared to be off for a while, but by the second half really turned her game up and before long she was piling up the points. She finished with a career-high 30, including 11 from the free-throw line.

“She played much more under control late than early on,” Christ the Kingcoach Bob Mackey said. “Early she was trying to do it all at once picking up for everybody else. You can't rely on just one player scoring, you have to get more balance.”

By the time Calhoun really got hot, Nazareth had already built up an insurmountable lead. Christ the King pulled to within six at one point in the third quarter, but Nazareth quickly turned that around into a 14-point lead.

SOMETHING’S BUGGING CUEVAS: Early in the season, 20 and 30-point games were a regular thing for sophomore Bianca Cuevas, but for the second game in a row she was held to just 11 points. Even on defense she looked sluggish, but Best explained that she’s just been a little sick and it has been affecting her game.

“She's resting for the playoffs,” Best joked. “She hasn't been feeling well either. There has been a little bug going through our team. Bianca gets a little cranky when she's not feeling well, but she's fine.”

UP NEXT: Nazareth is off for a little while as it gets ready for the CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens playoffs. Christ the King will face Molloy on Thursday at Bishop Ford in a game that will decide the No. 3 seed for the playoffs.

Rapid Reax: (1) Nazareth 55, (2) Molloy 46

February, 13, 2012
2/13/12
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Nazareth coach Lauren Best saw it as soon as her team walked into the gym at Molloy.

“We were out of it,” the coach said.

That still didn't make a difference, though. No. 1 Nazareth handled No. 2 Molloy, 56-44, Monday at Jack Curran Gymnasium in Queens. Best anticipated her team going through the motions after a tough victory against previously undefeated Manasquan (N.J.) at The Mecca Challenge in the Bronx Sunday.

HOW THE GAME WAS WON: Neither team shot well early but when Nazareth (14-1) started to find its range, Molloy continued its cold shooting.

The Stanners (15-7) struggled to find any offense outside of Carolyn Gallagher, who scored a game-high 28 points. Nazareth held Molloy to just five field goals across the second and third quarters and held a 38-26 lead headed to the final period.

Nazareth kept Molloy in the game at the free-throw line in the fourth. Molloy went 9-of-13 from the line in the final period. Bianca Cuevas scored 16 points, Sadie Edwards had 12 and Brianna Butler had 10.

TURNING POINT: Nazareth led 16-10 after Butler hit a 3-pointer from the top of the arc about a minute into the second quarter. Nazareth looked sluggish, Molloy couldn’t score and the game was getting sloppy before Best called timeout.

“I told them if this game is close we’re going to lose,” Best said.

Best and co-head coach Ron Kelley also implored their team to clamp down on defense. Nazareth started trapping the Molloy guards and pressing the ball and extended the lead to 32-19 with 6:53 left in the third.

“We played a tough game yesterday and I think that to come back and play again tonight was a little tough,” Edwards said. “We came out a little bit lethargic. But we want to be a good team that wins game when we didn’t play well and we didn’t play well at all, individually or as a team, so it just shows that we’re a good team.”

NO FORFEITS FOR FORD OR CK: Nazareth learned earlier in the day that hat Christ the King and Bishop Ford will not have to forfeit games that they were scheduled to play but canceled after the death of Nazareth coach Apache Paschall on Jan. 3. Nazareth wanted to play both games and requested forfeits.

“They didn’t follow the rules,” Best said. “The rules state one thing and they got away with one. They should have gotten the forfeit. We’re a competitive team so we’re going to play but that’s not what the rules state.”

WHITE OUT: Cuevas couldn’t find her jersey before the game so she borrowed Shanice Woodson’s jersey. Problem was, Cuevas wears No. 1 while Woodson, who was sick and did not play, wears No. 11. So Cuevas covered the second number one with white athletic tape to keep her number.

QUOTE OF THE GAME: “I can’t explain it. I think we came out scared. I think we play in games like this where instead of playing to win, we play not to lose.” - Molloy coach Scott Lagas on his team’s offensive struggles.

UP NEXT: Nazareth won’t play again until the games are scheduled against Bishop Ford and Christ the King, which will likely be next week. Molloy plays at Christ the King Friday at 6 p.m.

Rapid Reax: Nazareth 83, Manasquan(NJ) 73

February, 12, 2012
2/12/12
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It only took a moment for Sadie Edwards to realize what her night would be like. The Nazareth junior guard blew by a defender early in the second quarter for a layup, plus the foul, and figured that with the gym lined with college recruiters, that it was as good a time as any to get to the basket at will.

“[I saw it] from the first possession of the game,” she said after Nazareth handed Manasquan (N.J.) its first loss, 83-73, at the Mecca Challenge in the Gauchos Gym in the Bronx. “I mean, that’s what got me going. I knew once I got passed the first girl that it was pretty much a layup.”

Something had to come easier. Something had to stay within the players’ control. Nazareth (13-1), ranked No. 7 by ESPN’s FAB 50, has been mired in off-court issues this season after the death of head coach Apache Paschall earlier this season.

The girls were playing their first game since they learned last week that the school will close at the end of the school year, and that the team will not have to forfeit their season after a CHSAA investigation concluded that freshman transfer Brittney Jackson was eligible.

But on the court, the players could decide what happened. This time it was Edwards – not the highly-touted Brianna Butler or Bianca Cuevas – that seemed impossible to stop, scoring a team-high 26 points.

HOW THE GAME WAS WON: The news of the school closing and questions about Jackson’s eligibility did not hamper the team early. Nazareth penetrated the paint consistently but couldn’t chase Manasquan off the 3-point line. The previously undefeated squad scored all five first-quarter field goals on 3-pointers, but ended the period with the scored tied at 15.

“I think a lot of people thought adversity would ruin us,” Edwards said. “But I think that, as a team, we’ve really become closer and more like a family. Now I think we have more motivation. Winning, I mean just not for ourselves, but for our family and everyone else who doubts us or didn’t think we could do anything and just for our coaches who have been there for us for so long.”

Nazareth continued to attack off the dribble. Butler found her way into the paint with ease in the first half and hit two clutch 3-pointers in the fourth to finish with 14 points. Cuevas also added 16.

TURNING POINT: Nazareth led for most of the game but Manasquan refused to go away. With a little less than three minutes remaining and Nazareth ahead, 67-65, sophomore center Yasmin Belk was whistled for a technical foul for shoving Manasquan’s Amanda Hagaman after the two got tangled under the basket. Kaelynn Flaherty then hit two free throws to tie the score at 67 but the game doubled in intensity.

Nazareth thrived with the added pressure while Manasquan unraveled. Edwards hit a 3-pointer with 2:10 left to break the tie. Edwards added two free throws soon after when Manasquan’s Marina Mabrey earned her own technical foul for arguing with the referee and suddenly Narazeth posted a 9-0 run and a 77-69 lead with just over a minute left.

STAR OF THE GAME: Nazareth guard Darius Faulk said that her teammates have been telling Edwards to be more aggressive all season. Once they saw her hot hand Sunday, they continued to give her the green light.

Her 3-pointer with 2:10 left started the 9-0 run that decided the game. Flaherty had five 3-pointers for Manasquan and finished with 32 points.

QUOTE OF THE GAME: “We knew she just needed to be more aggressive. We told every time she gets the ball to go.” – Faulk on Edwards.

UP NEXT: Nazareth will visit Molloy Monday at 7 p.m.

Naz's Butler to play in All-American Game

February, 9, 2012
2/09/12
8:05
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Nazareth girls basketball senior wing Brianna Butler finally got some good news.

"It's been an up-and-down year," Butler said after being selected on Thursday to the McDonald's All-American Game. "We lost our coach, I was ineligible then eligible, playing our games, now having the school close, it's been up and down. This is a nice change of events."

Butler was the lone player from New York City to be chosen to play in the McDonald's All-American Game on March 28. The senior transferred to the Brooklyn school for this season and has helped Nazareth to its national ranking.

"It's a big deal, a once in a lifetime opportunity," Butler said. "I'm just happy to have made the team."

Butler transferred to Nazareth this year from Penn Charter (Penn.) , landing at the school of her AAU coach, Apache Paschall. Butler is the No. 13 prospect in the class of 2012 and has helped Nazareth to a 12-1 record and a No. 1 ranking in New York City by ESPNNewYork.com. Her coach, Ron Kelley, told her during school that she had been selected for the game.

So far this season, it's been a bumpy road for Butler and the rest of her Nazareth teammates. Butler was ineligible at the beginning of the season and then declared eligible. Paschall died on Jan. 3 and there has been controversy surrounding the cancellation of games. On Wednesday, Nazareth announced that it will be closing its doors at the end of the school year.

Butler said she believes that she is averaging about 18 to 19 points per game this season for the Lady Kingsmen. She will be playing in the game with her future Syracuse teammate, Brittney Sykes of University (Newark, N.J.).

"That's a good feeling," Butler said. "We're future teammates and will get to play together."

New York City had four players nominated for the game but Butler was the only one to get chosen. Nazareth teammate Darius Faulk, Christ the King boys shooting guard Omar Calhoun and St. Raymond forward Kerwin Okoro did not get chosen for the game.

"It would have been nice to have (Darius and I) got to the game," Butler said. "I kind of do wish that we had two people from Nazareth at the game."

This is the second straight year that a girls basketball player has been the lone representative for New York City in the McDonald's All-American game. Christ the King's Bria Smith, now a freshman at Louisville, was the lone selection from the Big Apple last season.

Across the river, St. Anthony boys basketball small forward Kyle Anderson was chosen for the game. New Jersey also had a pair of girls who will represent the Garden State in the game.

Rapid Reaction: (1) Nazareth 82, (2) Ford 39

February, 1, 2012
2/01/12
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On paper, Tuesday night's match-up between Nazareth and Bishop Ford was nothing more than a clash of two CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens Division I titans. Both girls basketball teams entered the contest undefeated in league play, but the Lady Kingsmen felt they were fighting for something more than just continued perfection.

It showed.

In front of its home crowd, top-ranked Nazareth crushed No. 2 Bishop Ford, 82-39.

By halftime, the Lady Kingsmen had created a 19-point deficit. In the waning moments of the fourth quarter, the winded Falcons just gave up.

On Jan. 5, two days after the death of Nazareth coach Apache Paschall, Bishop Ford didn't play a scheduled game against the Lady Kingsmen, instead opting to cancel. The Falcons' administration believed it was too soon after Paschall's passing to compete, while Nazareth was still eager to get on the court.

"The kids all came to the hospital, and we made a decision as a family, as a group to play," assistant coach Lauren Best said of the scheduled Jan. 5 game against Bishop Ford. "They took that from us."

Best insists there isn't any lingering tension with the Falcons' coaching staff, but the win definitely made a statement.

HOW THE GAME WAS WON: Although the first quarter was a sloppy eight minutes of basketball, chock full of turnovers and little offense, the Lady Kingsmen started to gain momentum by attacking with a mix of quick layups and 3-pointers.

Sophomore guard Bianca Cuevas scored 10 of her game-high 20 points for Nazareth (9-1, 6-0) in the second quarter, sinking two shots from beyond the arc and attacking the paint, to help her team pull away.

Bishop Ford (15-2, 6-1) also faltered at the line, only shooting 48 percent from the charity stripe, while Nazareth shot 88 percent.

TURNING POINT:
Cuevas' 10 points in the second pushed the Lady Kingsmen ahead, but Sadie Edwards closed it out in the fourth.Nazareth's own Mariano Rivera netted seven unanswered points at the beginning of the final quarter, and the game was out of reach.

"She's been our spark off the bench," Best said of Edwards. "She gets us going."

FORFEIT UPDATE:
Nazareth Athletic Director Rochelle Murphy said she has yet to hear back from the league regarding a request to have two cancelled games changed to forfeits.

In addition to the Jan. 5 game the Lady Kingsmen were scheduled to play against Bishop Ford, Christ the King also cancelled a Jan. 7 match-up after Paschall's passing.

STAR OF THE GAME: Darius Faulk not only tallied 18 points, but she hustled, often poking the ball out of the Falcons' hands. The senior guard also fed a lot of passes to Cuevas inside the paint.

"We really don't care if it's a forfeit or not," Faulk said with a smile. "We wouldn't mind playing them again and playing like this all over again."

UP NEXT: Nazareth will face the Mary Louis Academy on Wednesday at 6:45 p.m. The Lady Kingsmen won their first meeting, 82-63, with Cuevas (17 points) and Brianna Butler (13 points) leading the way. Bishop Ford heads to Christ the King on Wednesday night.

Rapid Reax: (1) Nazareth 73, Point Pleasant Boro (N.J.) 61

January, 28, 2012
1/28/12
11:49
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Nazareth girls didn’t pressure the ball early. They let the opponent hang around. Then the second it became too close, too late in the game, Nazareth slammed Point Pleasant Boro (N.J.) Saturday at the JFK Challenge. It was like coach Apache Paschall never left the bench.

“I always feel like he’s with me, but especially today,” co-head coach Lauren Best said. “This was typical him.”

Best and Ron Kelley manned the bench for Nazareth, playing for the first time at JFK without Paschall, who died earlier this month. The No. 7-ranked team in the country would have made their late coach proud. Paschall would always hold back his team’s press and surprise teams later with his squad’s relentless trapping defense.

HOW THE GAME WAS WON: Nazareth started slowly, which left the door open for a 3-point-crazy Point Pleasant Boro. Even with that, Nazareth built a five-point lead at the end of the first quarter. The score was tied at 29 with two minutes left in the half and Nazareth led 35-29 at halftime. When the Brooklyn squad couldn’t find easy baskets early, it relied on Brianna Butler, who scored 16 of her 20 points in the first half.

“In the first half they stayed with us because we didn’t play any defense,” Butler said. “We just had to step it up.”

Point Pleasant Boro stayed close early in the third, mostly behind Kelly Hughes, who scored a game-high 23 points. Nazareth never fully showed the full-court pressure that the team is known for but began dialing up man-on-man pressure on the guards and posted a 16-0 run. Nazareth went ahead 57-40 at the start of the fourth quarter and Boro never recovered.

TURNING POINT: The game had the feel that it could be a blowout, even though it was close. Nazareth seemed like it could get anywhere the team wanted offensively. But Lindsey Havens hit a 3-pointer that put Nazareth’s lead at 41-40 with 4:47 left in the third quarter. Then West Virginia-bound senior Darius Faulk drove to the lane for a layup for Nazareth and later forced a turnover and converted another. Her back-to-back layups sparked a 16-0 run. Faulk scored eight of her 12 points during the run. Nazareth outscored Point Pleasant Boro 24-2 over the next eight minutes from the middle of the third and halfway into the final period.

STAR OF THE GAME: Butler’s 16 points kept Nazareth’s offense going in the first half but it was Faulk’s defensive pressure and penetration in the third quarter that ignited the team. Yasmine Belk also added 20 points.

UP NEXT: Nazareth will face DePaul (N.J.) Sunday at 4p.m. in the second day of the JFK Challenge.

Rough week for Nazareth as it waited to play

January, 20, 2012
1/20/12
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All they wanted to do was play.

As the Nazareth girls basketball team's players grieved following the death of their head coach, Robert "Apache" Paschall, on Jan. 3, the Lady Kingsmen hoped to return to the court, wanting the chance to honor their coach.

It took eight days and the team saw two games get canceled, but on Jan. 11, Nazareth finally got to play against Molloy, a game the Lady Kingsmen won. It was one of the roughest weeks of the players' lives and one that saw them leaning on each other.

"Losing our coach was a big toll," senior guard Brianna Butler said. "We just had to stay together.

Paschall died in the hospital at about 1 p.m. on Jan. 3 and by 5 p.m. that night, assistants Lauren Best and Ron Kelley, and a group of Nazareth players, both past and present, gathered at the hospital.

Initially, Kelley had decided that the best thing was to cancel a scheduled game against Bishop Ford on Jan. 5. After the grief stricken girls got together, they decided that the best way to honor his memory would be to play the game as scheduled.

“They said, 'Coach no, what are you doing? We want to play Thursday,'” Kelley explained. “They told me that they all got together and talked about it and said that they want to play because Apache would want us to play. So I said fine, I’ll make the phone calls and we'll play.”

That game would never happen though. Ford’s administration decided it wouldn’t let kids make such an important call and postponed the game against their wishes. The next day, Christ the King, also postponed a game scheduled for Jan. 7.

For a group of girls who desperately wanted to play, not because they wanted to, but because they felt compelled to, this was very upsetting.

“It was hard because we all wanted to play and get out there to make Apache happy and the fact that no teams wanted to play us was very upsetting,” Butler said. “We called at least 20 schools to find somebody else to play and couldn’t find one team. It felt like nobody wanted to play us, nobody had the respect to play us.”

So the girls did the only thing they felt like they could do – continue to go to practice everyday and wait and hope that eventually they would play in a game. Even after it was clear they wouldn’t be playing until Jan. 11, the girls kept checking Facebook or hoped for their phones to ring with news that they had found a replacement team to play.

"He used basketball as a sanctuary and for us it is always a comfort to be able to play," Best said. "To be in the gym, to be at practice and to have games, that's a comfort."

Before that game against Molloy, they held a memorial in Paschall’s honor. Principal Providencia Quiles spoke about the trouble Paschall had caused her and the strong relationship that formed out of all of that trouble.

His mother, Elaine Bartlett, spoke about his ability to find something in nothing and his dedication to his girls. His daughter, Nytaea Satara Pascall, fought through tears to say that all she ever wanted to do was to make her father happy.

Finally, Best and Kelley spoke with Nazareth’s current squad lined up behind them. When they were done, each girl picked up a rose and placed it on his usual spot on the team’s bench. Each of them was in tears as they went back to the coaches' office to compose themselves.

After about 10 minutes, Nazareth took to the court and did the only thing they wanted to do for over a week – they played basketball.

"This week has been hard, disappointing, we've all been upset," senior guard Darius Faulk said. "It's been a tough week."

Rapid Reaction: Nazareth 77, Molloy 63

January, 11, 2012
1/11/12
10:50
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It's been two weeks since Nazareth has taken the court, but once the Lady Kingsmen finally did it was like the game didn't even matter.

"This game was so emotional, said Nazareth's Brianna Butler. "Losing our coach was a big toll, but playing, being out here on the court, it was just something that he would have wanted us to do. It didn't feel right not playing this past week. We felt like we were almost letting him down."

The Lady Kingsmen finally took to the court Wednesday night for the first time following the death of their coach Apache Paschall, who was dealing with skin cancer when he passed away of a heart attack on Jan. 3. Since that time they had two games cancelled against their wishes, but they finally got a chance to play Molloy, beating them 77-63 at home, in a game that was both highly emotional and cathartic at the same time.

"We were just upset, all week we wanted to play but they wouldn't let us play," senior guard Darius Faulk said. "It was just very upsetting."

Robert Abruzzese/ESPNNewYork



Before the game there was a ceremony held in Apache's honor. Principal Providencia Quiles introduced his mother, Elaine Bartlett, and his daughter, Nytaea Satava Paschall, who both fought back tears as they spoke to the crowded gym. Then assistant coaches Ron Kelley and Lauren Best addressed the gym with a lineup of crying girls behind them. Afterwards the girls each put a rose on the seat where Apache normally would have sat before going into the coach's office to take a break before starting the game.

"I didn't say much at that time," Kelley explained. "I was crying myself so I didn't say too much. I just said, 'ladies, let it all out. Let it out now.' After about 10 minutes I said, 'let's go, let's get back to business,' and that's exactly what they did."

HOW THE GAME WAS WON: The game was like an afterthought. Everybody involved was just relieved that they finally got a chance to get out on the court again and start to put this behind them so it didn't matter if they won or lost.

When the game started things were a little sloppy. In the first two minutes there were turnovers all over the court, bad shots, missed passes. Molloy struck first going up 5-0 on a pair of baskets by Amani Tatum and Kamille Ejerta, two girls who played for Apache's Exodus AAU squad.

It didn't take long until Nazareth's immense talent took over though. Jazmine Belk hit a layup that eased the tension and started the ball rolling. Then Bianca Cuevas started raining three's as the Lady Kingsmen went on an 11-0 run that put them up 22-13 after the first quarter.

There was more tension in the second quarter as the girls struggled through their emotions to find consistency. They found it in the second half though as Nazareth started the third quarter out with a strong 12-2 run that gave them a commanding 52-33 lead that they would never relinquish.

Robert Abruzzese/ESPNNewYork
Bianca Cuevas



PLAYER OF THE GAME: Bianca Cuevas was often the center of Apache's attention for both good and bad reasons. Apache mentored her because of her immense talent, but he also had to spend time with her because of both on and off the court shenanigans she gets herself into. She was also the first one to break down in their first practice the Wednesday following his death.

So it was almost appropriate that the sophomore took over the game with her long distance three-point shots that would make an NBA player jealous. She led the game with 28 points and always was there with a big basket anytime it looked like Nazareth had fallen into the trap of just going through the emotions. Without her stellar play it is hard to imagine Nazareth winning this game.

UP NEXT: Nazareth will head to Bishop Ford this weekend as it will participate in the Rose Classic against St. Anthony's on Sunday. Molloy will also take part in the Rose Classic when it takes on Bowie (Md.) on Saturday afternoon.
WHO: No. 1 Nazareth vs. No. 4 Archbishop Molloy

WHERE: Nazareth Regional HS

WHEN: 6:30 p.m.

WHY THIS GAME IS IMPORTANT: This is Nazareth's first return to action since its beloved head coach Apache Paschall passed away last Tuesday and the girls are highly motivated to play. Nazareth sought desperately to keep games against Bishop Ford and Christ the King from being cancelled and then searched for a replacement team to play on Saturday only to find no takers.

The girls are expected to be both highly motivated and highly emotional as they play in remembrance of their fallen coach. Nazareth Athletic Director Rochelle Murphy said that they moved the pregame ceremony up to 6:00 p.m. as they expect the girls will need some time to recover after the pregame ceremonies they have planned.

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Nazareth senior guard Brianna Butler
Nazareth sophomore guard Bianca Cuevas
Nazareth senior guard Darius Faulk
Molloy junior guard Amani Tatum
Molloy junior guard Carolyn Gallagher
Molloy sophomore guard Kamille Ejerta

COACHES:

Nazareth: Ron Kelley and Lauren Best
Molloy: Scott Lagas

HOW THEY GOT THERE:

Nazareth (3-0, 3-0)

Dec. 13: 82-63 win vs. Mary Louis Academy
Dec. 14: 74-59 win vs. Bishop Loughlin
Dec. 28: win vs. St. Francis Prep

Molloy (8-2, 3-1)

Nov. 28: 56-52 win vs. Sacred Heart (L.I.)
Dec. 3: 50-40 win vs. Sportswood (Va.)
Dec. 5: win vs. St. Mary's
Dec. 7: win vs. Holy Trinity
Dec. 17: 61-56 win vs. Bishop Loughlin
Dec. 18: 92-75 loss to Ossining
Dec. 22: 61-49 loss to Bishop Ford
Dec. 30: win vs. Notre Dame Academy
Jan. 4: 49-44 win vs. Mary Louis Academy
Jan. 8: 67-56 win vs. Immaculate Conception

Game of the Week: Nazareth-Lincoln girls

December, 28, 2011
12/28/11
12:50
PM ET
WHO: No. 1 Nazareth vs. Lincoln

WHEN: Thursday, 5 p.m.

WHERE: Murry Bergtraum

WHY THIS GAME IS IMPORTANT: In a week where seemingly every team has left New York City to compete in a holiday tournament, the top girls team in the City in Nazareth is taking on a tough Brooklyn foe in Lincoln.

Nazareth, off to a 2-0 start on the season heading into Wednesday night's game against St. Francis Prep, will be playing the back end of a back-to-back game against a tough PSAL foe. The Lady Kingsmen have not played in more than a week so having back-to-back games could potentially lead to some rust. They're also facing a team that they are not familiar with.

Lincoln, meanwhile, will be trying to get a resume win. The Railsplitters have hung tough with teams like South Shore but have not been able to get that big win. Will Lincoln make a statement to the City--and the country for that matter--against one of the elite teams in the nation? Lincoln is also trying to end a three-game losing streak.

PLAYER TO WATCH

Nazareth
Senior guard Brianna Butler
Sophomore guard Bianca Cuevas
Senior guard Darius Faulk

Lincoln
Senior forward Shaquella Figueroa
Senior forward Erica Juarbe
Junior guard Simonemmer Roberts

COACHES

Nazareth: Apache Paschall
Lincoln: Titilayo Hodges

HOW THEY GOT HERE

Nazareth (2-0, 2-0 Brooklyn/Queens Division I)
Dec 13: 82-63 win vs. Mary Louis Academy
Dec. 14: Win at Bishop Loughlin

Lincoln (5-4, 4-3 PSAL AA)
Nov. 26: Win vs. Kellenberg
Nov. 28: 57-39 win vs. Medgar Evers
Nov. 30: 58-41 win vs. Midwood
Dec. 2: 69-53 loss at JFK
Dec. 5: 67-55 win at Brooklyn Collegiate
Dec. 9: 67-46 win vs. Manhattan Center
Dec. 14: 44-43 loss vs. South Shore
Dec. 16: 52-48 loss at Murry Bergtraum
Dec. 18: Loss vs. Mt. Vernon

Rapid Reax: No. 1 Nazareth 82, No. 8 MLA 63

December, 12, 2011
12/12/11
10:49
PM ET
Bianca Cuevas stopped at the top of the arc, took a brief look at the defense and then drilled a three-pointer for Nazareth just 28 seconds into the game. It was Nazareth’s first possession and one of the most fluid baskets in game that didn’t have many.

But it started a run that saw Nazareth build a 14-point lead in the first quarter, a lead that Mary Louis chipped into but could never break during Nazareth’s 82-63 home victory in a showdown between two of the most highly-touted teams in New York City.

Many thought that Mary Louis would be big test for Nazareth, playing in its season opener. Cuevas didn’t think so though.

“We didn’t play to our ability,” the sophomore guard said. “We could have played better. We could have blew them out more.”

HOW THE GAME WAS WON: Nazareth, ranked No. 1 in ESPN’s FAB 50 and ESPNNewYork.com's poll, jumped out to a 17-3 lead after Cuevas nailed the trey to start the game. But No. 8 Mary Louis made its on run led by Jasmine Nwajei (26 points), who sliced through Nazareth’s full-court pressure and forced her way to the basket, helping cut the lead down to four with five minutes left in the first half.

The Hilltoppers (1-3, 0-2 Brooklyn/Queens Division I) were still within five points with 1:40 left in the first half after back-to-back layups by Nwajei. But Nazareth (1-0, 1-0) forced three straight turnovers for three straight baskets and carried an 11-point lead and much of the momentum headed into halftime.

It only got worse from there. Mary Louis failed to convert a field goal in the third quarter, scoring seven points on free throws while Nazareth’s lead ballooned to as much as 23. From there, it became a free-throw shooting contest.

“We played right into their hands,” Nwajei said. “They tried to rush of with the press. We played right into it.”

STAR OF THE GAME: It’s hard to pick one player of the game but the gold star would go to Nazareth’s defense. It took three and a half minutes for Mary Louis to score its first field goal of the game and the Hilltoppers went without a basket in the third.

THE TRANSERS: A lot of the talks before the season for Nazareth centered around transfers Sadie Edwards (Our Lady of Mercy School in Connecticut), Destini Feagin (Ben Davis in Indiana) and Syracuse-bound Brianna Butler (William Penn Charter School in Pennsylvania), the ranked No. 13 in on ESPN’s Top 100 list. Edwards led Nazareth with 19 points, Butler scored 13 and Feagin struggled badly before fouling out with four points.

THE NUMBERS: For a game that was the highly anticipated, it was marred by whistles and bad shooting from the free-throw line.

54: total foul calls

31: total missed free throws (23 by Mary Louis)

3: the number of Nazareth players that fouled out

1: technical foul (called on Mary Louis coach Joe Lewinger)

0: Field goals by Mary Louis in the third quarter.

QUOTE OF THE GAME: Many considered Mary Louis, which has now lost to Bishop Loughlin and Nazareth before playing Bishop Ford Wednesday, the second-best team in the CHSAA behind Nazareth. Cuevas was asked if she thought her team made a statement with the decisive win.

“Yeah,” she said. “That we’re the best team in the league. I don’t think they’re the second-best team.”

UP NEXT: Mary Louis will visit Bishop Ford on Wednesday in search for its first league win. Nazareth will visit rising Bishop Loughlin.

Nazareth transfers are reinstated

November, 18, 2011
11/18/11
8:35
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The three Nazareth transfer students who were deemed ineligible by the CHSAA Girls Brooklyn/Queens Division earlier this month have been notified by the league that they have been reinstated.

“I'm happy it worked out well for the players and their parents,” Nazareth Athletic Director Rochelle Murphy said. “The committee did what they felt they needed to do and evaluated the documents. We re-submitted documents and they made their decision and did what we felt they were going to do all along.”

The three girls are Brianna Butler, who transferred from Penn Charter (Penn.) and is ranked as the No. 13 prospect in the 2012 class according to ESPN HoopGurlz, Sadie Edwards, who transferred from Mercy (Conn.), and Destini Feagin, who transferred from Ben Davis (Ind.). All three girls played for Nazareth head coach Apache Paschall's AAU team, Exodus, this summer.

The reason the girls were deemed ineligible in the first place was because they didn't provide the league with a traditional bill showing a parental change of address. In order for transfer players to be eligible, they must submit documents that show a parental change of address in order to prevent athletes from living with a relative or a friend just so they can compete for a certain school.

“They asked for certain documents and we submitted bills but they weren't traditional,” Murphy explained. “They usually get traditional ones so we gave them further documentation.”

Nazareth submits papers for transfers

November, 14, 2011
11/14/11
8:50
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Nazareth has submitted further documents trying to sufficiently prove parental change of address for three transfers on the girls basketball team, Brooklyn/Queens Girls CHSAA President Denise Hillig said. The Brooklyn/Queens Girls CHSAA will review the documents and Hillig said that she hopes that there will be a decision by the end of the week.

Seniors Brianna Butler and Desinti Feagin along with junior Sadie Edwards are the trio that have been ruled ineligible by the league. Butler, who just signed with Syracuse, transferred to Nazareth from Penn Charter (Penn.), Edwards came from Mercy (Conn.) and Feagin left Ben Davis (Ind.). Butler is the No. 13 prospect in the class of 2012.

Two week ago, the league notified Nazareth that all three players are ineligible for the upcoming season for not providing sufficient proof of a parental address. The league requires that transfer students show parental changes of address to prevent athletes from moving in with a relative to play at a certain school. Documents such as birth certificates and other forms like utility bills are submitted by transferring students.

The league requested that Nazareth provide further documentation and once the paperwork was submitted, it began an appeals process.

"The committee would have to look at it and see if was satisfactory and then we could change our ruling," Hillig previously said.

Nazareth's first game is scheduled for Dec. 3 against Christ the King in what is expected to be a showdown of two of the top teams in the city.

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