PSAL semifinals recaps

The championship matchups in the Public Schools Athletic League Class AA tournaments are set as Jefferson will face Boys & Girls on the boys side and Murry Bergtraum will meet McKee/SI Tech on the girls side. While you can read about Boys' win over Lincoln here, here's what happened in the other three games.

No. 2 Murry Bergtraum 56, No. 6 Francis Lewis 48: Murry Bergtraum is headed back to Madison Square Garden and will go for its 14th consecutive PSAL city championship after beating Francis Lewis, 56-48, at St. John’s University in Queens on Saturday.

This is the first time that Bergtraum is even going in as the No. 2 seed since 2003. Its unusual underdog status is something head coach Ed Grezinsky said the team has used for motivation.

“We lost (Tayshana “Chicken” Murphy), we lost our first two games of the season and nobody expected us to win,” Grezinsky said. “Nobody expected us to get to the Garden, nobody even expected us to get to the semifinals.”

Bergtraum dominated for most of the game, building up an 18-point lead by the third quarter. Francis Lewis fought back and brought the game back to within six, but freshman Ashanae McLaughlin made big plays to stop the rally. Saturday’s game wasn’t an easy one for McLaughlin to play in as she lost her uncle, James Smith, last Thursday.

“It’s been hard, McLaughlin said. “I was crying, crying, crying all week. Even this morning I was crying. But I was ready for this game. With everything we’ve been through this year already we’ve learned how to handle the emotional part of the game.”

Shequana Harris had 20 points, five assists, and three steals for Bergtraum while McLaughlin had 15 points, six rebounds, and an assist.

No. 4 MSIT 49, No. 1 South Shore 42: Before the game started, MSIT’s star player Kaitlyn Astel went up to Gabriella Marinaccio and told her that if they won, it would be because of her.

At the time, that made Marinaccio nervous, but she said she wasn’t nervous at all when she drained a pair of three’s that gave MSIT the lead with just 1:06 to play en route to a 49-42 victory.

“Confidence is a word that you don’t normally associate with me,” Marinaccio joked. “But I was feeling so good, I had the crowd behind me, it was like the play was in slow-mo. I just knew it was going it. This is the greatest feeling of my life.”

Marinaccio finished the game with 14 points including four three-point shots. She started her hot shooting with a three in the second quarter that gave MSIT its first lead.

The victory is vindication for MSIT’s head coach Peter LaMarca, who felt snubbed by the PSAL at the start of the season for being left out of the AA division.

No. 1 Jefferson 72, No. 4 Wings 68: In the run to the final, Jefferso head coach Bud Pollard has said that Jaquan Lynch is the team’s MVP and not its star player, Thaddeus Hall, who gets all of the attention.

“When Hall wasn’t here in the beginning of the year, Son Son (Lynch) carried us and then when Thaddeus came back he deferred to him,” Pollard explained. “A lot of kids wouldn’t do that. They won’t go from being Batman to being Robin.”

It was fitting then, in the final seconds of a close game, when Lynch stole the ball instead of driving it to the net himself he instead passed the ball to Hall who slammed it down to put the finishing touch on a 72-68 victory

Wings held a slim 38-34 lead at halftime and had a 68-64 lead with just a minute left. Nazai Stokes hit a three to put Jefferson down just one point before Hall drove the lane and score on a three-point play to take the late lead.

Hall finished the game with 22 points and Lynch had 16 including 12 in the second half. Justin Jenkins finished with 23 for Wings.