New York High School: JFK

PSAL girls quarterfinals recap

March, 3, 2012
3/03/12
8:59
PM ET
The Public Schools Athletic League is down to its final four teams in the girls Class AA tournament after the quarterfinals on Saturday. South Shore, Murry Bergtraum, McKee/SI Tech and Francis Lewis are the last four teams left after winning on Saturday at Hunter College. Here are the highlights from the game.

No. 1 South Shore 46, No. 9 Midwood 30: The top-seeded Lady Vikings received a scare from Midwood but used a 13-0 run in the final minutes to grab the 46-30 win. South Shore led 33-30 with about four minutes left before holding Midwood scoreless the rest of the way.

"We only gave up 30 points and clamped down at the end of the game but I thought we should have been much better on defense," South Shore coach Anwar Gladden said. "We have to get back and be better on the defensive end of the court."

Aaliyah Cooley led South Shore (21-5) with 21 points and had three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and five in the game. Midwood fell to (9-15) in the loss and South Shore will feet fourth-seeded McKee/SI Tech in the semifinals.

"We were having trouble scoring in the halfcourt and (Cooley) knocked down some big shots," Gladden said.

No. 2 Murry Bergtraum 60, No. 7 Lincoln 40: Murry Bergtraum started its quest for a 14th straight PSAL title on a great foot as it handled Lincoln. The Lady Blazers (16-7) were up 19-2 after the first quarter and never looked back against Lincoln (12-10).

"It was good to see them come out like that," head coach Ed Grezinsky said.

Murry Bergtraum received a big game from freshman Ashanae Mclaughlin, who had 16 points, while senior Shequana Harris added 12. Grezinsky said he needs someone to step up each game and today his freshman star was able to do that for him

The Lady Blazers now head to the semifinals where they will face Francis Lewis, a team that beat them last time out. The teams split the season series.

"They're a very good team and they're gelling," Grezinsky said. "They're a tough opponent and they will be a tough game for us."

No. 4 McKee/SI Tech 64, No. 5 JFK 51: McKee/SI Tech used an incredible performance from his backcourt of Kaityln Astel and Kelin Walsh as the two combined for 62 of his team's 64 points in the Seagulls' win. Walsh had 33 points while Astel had 29.

"They were unbelievable together, words can't even describe it," MSIT coach Peter LaMarca said. "Walsh had 15 points in the second quarter which was all of our points."

MSIT (24-2) led JFK (17-11) by about seven to 12 points for most of the game and JFK cut it to three late but MSIT held them off. The Seagulls now will meet top-seeded South Shore in the semifinals. The teams did not play each other this season.

"I've kind of always believed from the beginning we could be a very good team," LaMarca said. "We have strong senior leadership. Astel is a star and Walsh has come back from ACL surgery to be one of the best point guards in the city. I don't think we're sneaking up on people."

No. 6 Francis Lewis 47, No. 3 Truman 34: Francis Lewis averaged two regular season losses to Truman by defeating the Lady Mustangs in the quarterfinals. The game was tied 17-17 at the half and Francis Lewis (14-9) took control in the second half to best Truman (20-7).

"Defensively, we were able to do more of what we wanted to do," coach Stephen Tsai said.

Tsai credited the play of Sherice Gayle, a senior forward/center who only started playing at the end of the year and had a big effect on Saturday's game. Francis Lewis now will meet Murry Bergtraum in the semifinals and the Lady Patriots won the last meeting between the two.

"Our girls had a lot of ups and downs this season," Tsai said. "We lost to Truman twice and I think the girls wanted to prove a point to get (to the semifinals)."

PSAL boys AA predictions

February, 15, 2012
2/15/12
2:17
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The Public Schools Athletic League boys basketball Class AA Tournament begins on Wednesday with the first round of games. We asked our high school writers Matt Ehalt, Rob Abruzzese and Christopher Hunt to give us their predictions and dissect the tournament.

Here are the seeds for the tournament:

1. Thomas Jefferson (14-2 Brooklyn AA)
2. Boys & Girls (11-3 Brooklyn AA)
3. Lincoln (11-3 Brooklyn AA)
4. Wings Academy (16-0 Bronx AA)
5. Cardozo (12-2 Queens AA)
6. Curtis (14-0 Staten Island A)
7. South Shore (9-5 Brooklyn AA)
8. Wadleigh (15-1 Manhattan AA)
9. Bayside (12-2 Queens AA)
10. JFK (13-3 Bronx AA)
11. Campus Magnet (11-3 Queens AA)
12. McKee/SI Tech (11-3 Staten Island A)
13. Transit Tech (5-9 Brooklyn AA)
14. Beach Channel/Channel View (9-5 Queens AA)
15. Samuel Gompers (10-6 Bronx AA)
16. Lehman (10-6 Bronx AA)
17. Paul Robeson (4-10 Brooklyn AA)
18. Manhattan Center (7-9 Manhattan AA)
19. Thurgood Marshall Academy (6-10 Manhattan AA)
20. Eagle Academy (3-13 Bronx AA)
21. Martin Van Buren (5-9 Queens AA)
22. James Monroe (5-11 Bronx AA)
23. Forrest Hills (4-10 Queens AA)

WHO IS THE TEAM TO BEAT?

EHALT: Jefferson: Think about this for a moment: In Brooklyn AA, arguably the toughest division in America, Jefferson went 6-2 against Lincoln, South Shore and Boys & Girls. This team truly earned its No. 1 ranking in every which way and has been the dominant team in the PSAL over the past month. There might not be a team playing better basketball in New York City than Thomas Jefferson.

ABRUZZESE: Boys & Girls: After winning back-to-back PSAL championships the Kangaroos are the team to beat until somebody proves they can stop them.

HUNT: Thomas Jefferson: The Orange Wave, led by 32 points and 13 rebounds by Thaddeus Hall, took down Boys & Girls, the city champs, in the Brooklyn AA final. It was also the second time 10 days Jefferson beat the Kangaroos. Even if Boys & Girls has back-to-back titles, the bull’s eye is on Jefferson.

WHICH TEAM IS THE SLEEPER?

EHALT: JFK: JFK is riding high after it defeated Wings Academy for the Bronx borough title. The Knights handed Wings its first PSAL loss and that could be the type of momentum needed to make a run. If it gets by JFK, it will play South Shore, a team that is capable of beating anyone but could have its eyes set on Boys & Girls in the quarterfinals. JFK could be primed to make a lost of noise.

ABRUZZESE: Wings Academy: By grabbing the four seed, Wings will avoid facing any of the Brooklyn AA teams until the semis so expect the Wings to make a deep run.

HUNT: Lincoln: The Railsplitters are wounded with Isaiah Whitehead out with an ankle injury. But Lincoln still has Travis Charles and Travis Whittingham and if they can find a way to hold the fort without Whitehead in the lineup, it’ll make them more dangerous, and more confident, when he returns.

WHICH TEAM IS ON UPSET ALERT?

EHALT: Cardozo:
Cardozo won the Queens borough title after finishing second in the regular season but the question remains about how good this Cardozo team is. It's not as strong as in past years and does not have Jermaine Lawrence anymore, a player who could have made a difference. The Judges haven't been particularly challenged this year and they could have a tough time ahead in the tournament.

ABRUZZESE: South Shore: It could end up facing JFK early in the tournament, a team that has already upset Wings Academy in the borough playoffs.

HUNT: South Shore: They should make it into the quarterfinals at least, but South Shore could see JFK in the second round, a team that upset Wings Academy in the Bronx borough playoffs.

WHO WINS AND WHAT'S THE FINAL?


EHALT: Lincoln over Jefferson: Call me crazy but I think Lincoln is ready to make a run to the title. It's arguably as talented as any team in New York City but has battled injuries and has not played as well as it should. I think that changes in the playoffs. Lincoln goes on a run, defeating Boys & Girls in the semifinals, and then wins the title in a thriller against Jefferson.

ABRUZZESE: Jefferson over Boys & Girls: Jefferson has an easier path to The Garden and should be able to make it all the way there while Boys & Girls will be able to take advantage of Lincoln's chemistry issues to go back for the third time in three years. Unfortunately, Boys doesn't have the weapons to beat Jefferson in the finals though.

HUNT: Boys & Girls over Jefferson: The Kangaroos could have a tough road while trying to win their third straight city title. But the defending champions have proved, in spurts, they can beat any team in the city. It helps that they’ve been there before.

BRACKET PREDICTIONS:

EHALT: Robeson over Lehman; MSIT over Van Buren; Eagle Academy over Transit Tech; Beach Channel over Thurgood Marshall; JFK over Forest Hills; Gompers over Manhattan Center; Jefferson over Lehman; Wadleigh over Bayside; Cardozo over MSIT; Wings over Eagle; Lincoln over Beach Channel; Curtis over Campus Magnet; South Shore over JFK; Boys & Girls over Gompers; Jefferson over Wadleigh; Wings over Cardozo; Lincoln over Curtis; Boys & Girls over South Shore; Jefferson over Wings; Lincoln over Boys & Girls.

ABRUZZESE:
Lehman over Robeson; MSIT over Van Buren; Eagle Academy over Transit Tech; Beach Channel over Thurgood; Campus Magnet over Monroe; JFK over Forest Hills; Manhattan Center over Gompers; Jefferson over Lehman; Wadleigh over Bayside; Cardozo over MSIT; Wings over Eagle Academy; Lincoln over Beach Channel; Campus Magnet over Curtis; South Shore over JFK; Boys over Manhattan Center; Jefferson over Wadleigh; Wings over Cardozo; Lincoln over Curtis; Boys High over South Shore; Jefferson over Wings; Boys over Lincoln.

HUNT:
Lehman over Robeson; MSIT over Van Buren ; Transit Tech over Eagle Academy; Beach Channel over Thurgood Marshall; Campus Magnet over James Monroe; JFK over Forest Hills; Manhattan Center over Gompers; Jefferson over Lehman; Wadleigh over Bayside; Cardozo over MSIT; Wings Academy over Transit Tech; Lincoln over Beach Channel; Campus Magnet over Curtis; South Shore over JFK; Boys and Girls over Manhattan Center; Jefferson over Wadleigh; Cardozo over Wings Academy; Lincoln over Campus Magnet; Boys and Girls over South Shore; Jefferson over Cardozo; Boys over Lincoln.

Girls coaches pleased with AA seeds

February, 12, 2012
2/12/12
10:10
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The new scheduling procedures of the Public Schools Athletic League girls basketball Class AA league eased any worrying coach's mind about how the seeding would shake out for the Class AA tournament. By pitting all teams against each other this season, there was a basis for how teams would be ranked against one another.

"We knew that once we had a AA where everybody plays each other, there would be no controversy with the seeding," South Shore coach Anwar Gladden said.

After enduring years of seeding that left coaches scratching their heads, they had no problems with the seeding this year for the tournament, which begins on Feb. 29. Gladden's South Shore squad grabbed the No. 1 seed, followed by 13-time defending champion Murry Begtraum, Truman and McKee/Staten Island Tech.

The only aspect of the seeding that coaches were a little unsure about was the seeding of MSIT, which plays in Staten Island A and only played a few AA teams, but even the Seagulls' seeding did not draw any complaints.

"They took a very good step having everyone in the AA play each other," Truman coach John Burke said. "If you take Staten Island out of the equation, everyone knew where they would go with head-to-head games. With McKee, you could make the argument they would have been anywhere from a three to eight."

The PSAL created a three-division super league heading into this year to beef up competition and ensure that all the teams in the league played each other. It created a more balanced year and left nothing to question when it came to the seeds.

For example, top seed South Shore beat second-seed Murry Bergtraum, Bergtraum swept No. 3 Truman, Truman swept No. 5 JFK and JFK swept its games against No. 6 Francis Lewis. There was no way for any of those teams to make claims to be seeded head of another team.

The only question was MSIT's seed. Coach Peter LaMarca said he expected his team to be seeded anywhere from four to six, with JFK and Francis Lewis the teams he would be fighting for the seeds. Since he only played Manhattan Center, Midwood and Lincoln in the AA, there was no way to truly evaluate his squad against JFK and Francis Lewis.

The Seagulls were 22-2 on the year and went 14-0 in Staten Island Class A and did not lose a game to a New York City opponent all season. Ultimately, MSIT was seeded fourth by the committee and could meet JFK in the quarterfinals at a neutral court.

Francis Lewis coach Stephen Tsai said he believed that JFK should have received the four seed for its non-league and regular-season schedule, but did not have a problem with how it ended up. JFK coach O'Neill Glenn had no qualms with MSIT being ahead of him.

"I think it's right where it should be," Glenn said of his seed. "The four or five seed doesn't make a difference. It just means one wears a dark color, the other wears a light color. That's all that is."

Gladden remembers one year in the past where the seeding was changed several hours after it was released. Team wouldn't play each other and there would be questions up and down the seeds and coaches would be frustrated with the results. This year, there's none of that and the coaches are pleased.

South Shore's coach isn't sure the seeds will matter much anyway.

"With the way the AA has been going, the only thing the seeds determine is which team is going to wear the home uniform and which team will wear the away uniform," Gladden said. "There's no clear-cut favorites."

Borough finals recaps

February, 11, 2012
2/11/12
7:44
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While Jefferson vs. Boys & Girls headlined the borough finals, three other champions were crowned on Saturday. Here are the recaps from the other games that decided the Public Schools Athletic League borough champions.

BRONX FINAL: JFK 59, Wings Academy 54: The last time these two teams met, it was Wings’ Justin Jenkins who put the final dagger in JFK with a buzzer-beater three-point shot. This time, Wings took its shot a little too soon as there was 12.8 second left on the clock after Marvilio Berroa put his team on top, 54-53.

On the next play, Muhammed Admed drove the lane and got the go-ahead layup with just 1.8 seconds left that put JFK up, 55-54, on its way to an eventual 59-54 victory to take the Bronx borough title Saturday at York College in Queens.

“I kind of had a flashback to the last game when he hit that shot because that's what caused us the loss,” Ahmed said. “I told everybody to keep their heads up, the game was not over. This time we played through it.”

JFK is hoping that this victory will propel it to success as the last time it won the borough title was the same year it went all the way to the championship game at Madison Square Garden.

Bashir Admed led JFK with 13 points and his brother, Muhammed, had eight. David Hardy had 11. Jenkins had a game-high 19 points for Wings and Jaequan Brown had 11.

MANHATTAN FINAL: Wadleigh 75, Manhattan Center 60: With Manhattan Center missing a few players who were at a senior trip, Wadleigh easily handled it, winning 75-60 to take its sixth consecutive Manhattan Borough Title.

Wadleigh coach Michael Crump was upset that Manhattan Center didn’t field an entire team and also said he’s not content winning more Manhattan titles.

“That game unsharpened our pencil,” Crump said. “We had Kennedy, we went to Wings, we've been on a high note and then we go see them, a depleted team that we already beat, and our guys didn't even want to play.”

On the Manhattan title, Crump said: “It's gotten to the point where we don't keep track of it. We have to worry about the city championship. We’ve got to get out of the quarter finals. We've never been to the final four.”

Freshman Llunga Kadisha got a chance to showcase his skills, as he led his team with 22 points. Kenneth Thomas had 16, and Stephen Turner and Basil Harley each had 12. Manhattan Center’s Khalil Hamer led the game with 26 points.

QUEENS FINAL: Cardozo 69, LIC 58: Cardozo faced off against one of the biggest surprises in the borough finals and almost let a 15-point lead evaporate before getting pulling together a 69-58 victory.

Unlike Crump, Cardozo’s head coach Ron Naclerio refuses to take this title for granted despite winning many of them, including three in a row. His team underwent a tough transition this season when it lost star Jermaine Lawrence, who transferred midseason.

“Do we really get the applause for running Queens? People think its accepted, but I know how hard it is,” Naclerio said. “It's great for the kids because a lot of the kids heard in school, ‘we're not going to be this or not going to be that without Jermaine.’

“When they walk into school Monday they know that they are the Queens champs.”

Tajay Henry led Cardozo with 21 points and Kyle Credle had 10 big points. When Cardozo’s lead shrunk to four, Credle picked his game up, scoring seven points in a one-minute span that put distance between Cardozo and LIC.

LIC’s Sadji Camara and Arthur Santana each had 17 points and Kevin Green Jr. had 13.

Girls basketball poll: Jan. 30

January, 30, 2012
1/30/12
1:57
PM ET
The biggest thing we learned this week is Moore Catholic is a team to be reckoned with. The Lady Mavericks defeated Molloy at the JFK Invitational this weekend and are a threat in New York City. Let's check out the poll.

1. Nazareth (8-1)/(LW: 1): Nazareth had a 3-0 week that included two wins at the JFK Invitational against New Jersey teams. Big week ahead with games against Bishop Ford and Christ the King.

2. Bishop Ford (15-1)/(LW: 2): Bishop Ford will head to Nazareth this week in what will be the biggest girls basketball game of the season to this point.

3. South Shore (17-3)/(LW: 3): South Shore split a pair of games at the JFK Challenge but easily could have gone undefeated in those games.

4. Moore Catholic (14-3)/(LW: 5): Moore picked up a nice win against Molloy and then defeated a New Jersey team to move up in the rankings.

5. Molloy (11-6)/(LW: 4): Molloy, which is dealing with injuries, had a tough week as it went 0-3 including losses to Bishop Loughlin and Moore Catholic.

6. Christ the King (5-9)/(LW: 6): CK lost against Archbishop Wood this weekend. It has a big home game against Nazareth on Saturday.

7. Murry Bergtraum (11-5)/(LW: 7): Bergtraum picked up a league win against Medgar Evers but lost a tough game to H.D. Woodson (D.C.) in the JFK Invitational.

8. Bishop Loughlin (7-8)/(LW: 8): Loughlin started the week with a nice win Molloy but dropped two games later in the week against out-of-state foes.

9. JFK (14-7)/(LW: 10): JFK won a tough battle against Christian Academy (D.C.) at its own JFK Invitational and has a tough home game vs. Truman this week.

10. McKee/SI Tech (17-2)/(LW: 10): MSIT got spanked against Red Bank Catholic (N.J.) last weekend and has some big games in division this week.

Girls basketball poll: Jan. 23

January, 23, 2012
1/23/12
1:32
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Undefeated no more. Nazareth lost its first game of the season this weekend as it fell to Riverdale Baptist (Md.). We didn't expect Nazareth to go undefeated, but anytime a nationally ranked team loses, it's a big deal. In other news, South Shore lost its first game in division as it fell to JFK, which has moved the Lady Knights into the rankings. Here's this week's poll.

1. Nazareth (5-1)/(LW: 1): Nazareth lost to Riverdale Baptist but rebounded to pick up a nice win against H.D. Woodson. It has a league game coming up against St. Francis Prep.

2. Bishop Ford (13-1)/(LW: 3): A nice week for Bishop Ford included wins against Long Island Lutheran and Bishop Loughlin. The Lady Falcons are looking more and more like Nazareth's biggest challenge.

3. South Shore (16-2)/(LW: 2): South Shore finally lost a game to a New York City team as it fell on the road to JFK. Let's see how it rebounds this week at the JFK Challenge.

4. Molloy (11-3)/(LW: 4): Molloy defeated Christ the King in a game that surely had to mean a lot to Molloy. The Stanners are firmly in the mix as one of the top teams in the CHSAA at this poitn.

5. Moore Catholic (12-3)/(LW: 6): A 4-0 week for Moore Catholic included wins over Cardinal Spellman, Maria Regina, St. John Villla and Manhattan Center.

6. Christ the King (5-8)/(LW: 5): CK lost a tough game against Molloy but bounced back to easily defeat Mary Louis. The Lady Royals look like they're rounding into shape and could be dangerous soon.

7. Murry Bergtraum (10-4)/(LW: 8): Bergtraum is back in business after it picked up a solid win at home against JFK. The Lady Blazers appear to be peaking at the right time.

8. Bishop Loughlin (5-5)/(LW: 7): Loughlin lost to Bishop Ford but had a win to start the week against a team from Florida. The Lady Lions haven't put it all together just yet.

9. McKee/SI Tech (17-1)/(LW: NR): MSIT makes it back into the rankings with its 17-1 mark that does not include a loss to a team in New York City yet. It is 11-0 in league play.

10. JFK (13-7)/(LW: NR): JFK makes its first appearance in the poll behind its win against South Shore. The Lady Knights are one of the toughest teams in the city and will give anyone a battle.

Girls basketball poll: preseason

November, 21, 2011
11/21/11
12:59
PM ET
Welcome to the first poll of the girls basketball season. As expected, the defending state champs Nazareth are on top and there are plenty of familiar names in this poll. Here's your first look at the top teams in New York City.

1. Nazareth (0-0): When you can send out an entire team full of future Division I players on to the court, you've got a pretty good squad.

2. Christ the King (0-0): CK might not be as talented as last year's team but still will be budding with talent and a top team in the city.

3. Murry Bergtraum (0-0): Bergtraum might not have the star-studded cast like the past but never count out a team coached by Ed Grezinsky.

4. South Shore (0-0): South Shore is hoping to end Bergtraum's run of 13-straight PSAL titles this upcoming season.

5. Mary Louis Academy (0-0): A strong blend of freshman and veterans should help Mary Louis play with the city's elite this season.

6. Molloy (0-0): The defending CHSAA Class "A" champions have a new coach but return a solid nucleus for this upcoming season.

7. JFK (0-0): JFK just could not beat Murry Bergtraum last year. Will it be able to change its luck this upcoming season?

8. Moore Catholic (0-0): The Mavericks have two Division-I players in Christina Rubin and Jamie O'Hare but need more from the other three spots.

9. Francis Lewis (0-0): The Patriots will try to build off a run to the PSAL semifinals last season with a nice cast returning to lead the way.

10. McKee/SI Tech (0-0): MSIT had a great season last year and should be in the thick of things in the PSAL race once again.

Girls basketball preview

November, 21, 2011
11/21/11
12:58
PM ET
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

Mother's day is rough for JFK CF Taveras

May, 8, 2011
5/08/11
10:00
AM ET
NEW YORK—What had once been a day of celebration and good times has become a day of warm and comforting memories for John F. Kennedy center fielder Peter Taveras.

With a zest in his voice, he recalls spending last year’s holiday with his mother, Romana Moreira. He took her to her favorite restaurant, Sizzler, and bought her a bouquet of followers. He did his best to reciprocate the love his mother had showered him with for 18 years.

This year, Mother’s Day will have a different meaning for the JFK senior as it marks the first time his mother will not be there to share the day with him. Earlier this year, on Jan. 28, Moreira suffered a heart attack and passed away at the age of 42.


Courtesy of Pedro Taveras
As Pedro progressed through the
sport, Romana Moreira was always
in the stands cheering.


Now, Taveras has to rely on his memories to go back to those days when he would happily spend time with the person he loved as much as anything in the world.

“I’ll probably have to think about the good times, if I start thinking about everything, it would break me down,” Taveras said. “I’ll stay home that day and think of all of the Mother’s Days that have passed and I spent with her.”

Mother’s Day will be another tough day for one of the Public Schools Athletic League’s top players as he continues to miss his mother and struggle with her passing. Taveras, 19, said his mother’s death has affected him on and off the baseball field, as his numbers have dropped to .370 with one home run and six RBI.

“I don’t know, it’s still unreal to me,” Taveras said. “I try not to think about it too much because I just break down and then I feel like not doing anything, like not wanting to be talked to. I just want to be alone.”

Taveras described his late mother as a loving person who was never angry and would be warm and gentle to everyone she met. She pushed him in school, nearly taking him to catholic school when his grades weren’t meeting her standards. He labeled his mother as his “everything” and she’s the reason why baseball is an integral part of his life.

When Taveras was nine, Moreira signed him up for a team without his knowledge, taking him to Crotona Park to see if he had any skills. As he progressed through the sport, his mother was always in the stands, screaming and cheering whenever he made a big play.

He remembers her missing one game last season, a win over James Monroe in an exhibition game when he had two home runs. But once he gave her the news, “Oh forget about it!” he said. She clapped, screamed and jumped and kissed her baby boy.

Taveras’ father, Pedro Taveras, who is trying to fill the void left by his wife, remembers the mother and son celebrating after Peter won the PSAL home run title for the Class “A” division last season.

“When he showed her the plaque she was so happy and she was giving him hugs and kisses,” Pedro Taveras said through a translator. “That was one of the most joyful moments with him and her, just sitting down and talking.”

As joyful as those memories are for Peter Taveras, his mother’s death has been just as painful.

In the afternoon of Jan. 28, Taveras received a call from New York Westchester Square Medical Center telling him his mother had just suffered a heart attack. Confused and shaken, he quickly got dressed and headed to the hospital. His mother had been in the hospital because she was having surgery on a fibroma, which is a usually benign tumor consisting of fibrous tissue, according to encyclopedia.com.

While he headed in the cab to the hospital, his older brother, A.J. Santiago, called him to tell him their mother had passed away. Once his brother hung up, Taveras got out of the cab and ran the final handful of blocks to the hospital. Just the night before, he had rubbed his mother's forehead with Vicks and told her he loved her and that she will be coming home soon and the pain will go away.

“I go inside and that was probably the worst time of my life because I was there and I had seen her and it wasn’t a right way for a kid to see his mother,” Taveras said. “She was always a very happy person and it should not have happened.”

With his mother gone, the past four months have been a challenge for Taveras. His father noted his son has been somber, a far cry from the way he used to be. Teammate and friend Isael Lagares believes the adversity has made Taveras stronger, but has noticed that Taveras doesn’t joke around as much.

On the field, Taveras said he just hasn’t been the same player. After hitting .500 with five home runs and 29 RBI in a breakout junior campaign, Taveras’ numbers have slipped. He said he hopes to play in college at either Western Oklahoma State or Franklin Pierce.

Before his mother’s death, Taveras said he was focused on the season, working out and getting stronger in preparation. But once he lost his mother, he said he stopped doing things to help him get in shape. He expected a more productive season, but his mother is constantly on his mind and it affects him.

JFK coach Al Torres described Taveras as a “stud” - a great defender in the outfield who can throw and hit well. While he has tried to guide Taveras through this difficult time, as he is constantly talking to him and always being there for his player, he’s seen a change in Taveras at the plate.

“He’s being very patient, he’s gotten his walks, but he’s missing pitches that he wouldn’t miss and I know that for a fact,” Torres said. “You can tell. It’s in there. He’s not the same type of guy and he’s prepared more than anybody. This was his year. He was ready. He’s still batting .370 but he can be doing a lot better.”

As much as baseball hasn’t gone as expected for Taveras, it’s been an escape for him. It’s taken his mind off the harsh times and given him comfort and support.

He believes without the baseball team, which he calls his family, he possibly might have stopped going to school. Now, his teammates are there to pick him up each day, give him encouragement and try and keep his mind away from the past for at least several hours a day. The team has also dedicated its season to his mother.

“I couldn’t been more proud and happier to know that he has a lot of friends, including coach Torres and he’s played an important role as far as being a father figure,” Santiago said. “I appreciate everything the team has done and the school has done to keep him positive and motivated.”

As a sign of their unwavering support, the team wears blue and red hats this year with the number 15 embroidered on them, as Moreira’s birthday was on March 15. Torres ordered the hats as soon as he had the chance, replacing the normal “K” atop of the school’s hats.

The hat represents the team’s belief that Moreira is its 10th player on the field.

“It’s a big thing and it’s been like motivation because I feel she’s with me,” Taveras said about the hats. “I look at the sky and give it a little smile at times. I feel like she smiles back at me because I know she wouldn’t just leave me like that.”

On the inside of the brim of Taveras’ hat lies a variety of messages. “RIP Mom, love you always” with his number 24 below is one of them. He also has “R.M. 15” written in black letters, for his mother's name and birthday, as well as: “God gave me baseball, baseball gave me life.” He will never forget or stop thinking of his mother.

In the short time since her passing, Taveras has already had to handle the pain of his mother’s birthday and his own, two days he loved to spend with her. On his birthday on April 24, he said that was the day he probably cried the most.

Mother’s Day will be another rough test for the youngster. The memories will help ease the pain, but he wishes he could still be celebrate the day with her.

On a day where he would pamper her like a queen, he’s hoping she has helped pave the way for him to continue to handle everything that lies ahead.

“This is what life brings to me. I’m 19 years old and I’m at least pleased that she gave me these 18 years,” Taveras said. “It was a good 18 years of life that I thank I had with her and that she was my mom and she gave them to me. Now I have to be a man. She taught me how to be a man pretty well. I have to do what I have to do now.”

Even if his mother isn’t there.

Top 10 Girls poll

March, 21, 2011
3/21/11
2:00
PM ET
Just one more weeks remains. By Sunday night, high school basketball will be over and the New York State Federation Champions will be crowned.

1. Nazareth (28-3/LW: 1): Nazareth will face the winner of Murry Bergtraum vs. Cicero-North Syracuse winner for the title Sunday.

2. Murry Bergtraum (22-3/LW: 2): Murry Bergtraum will face Cicero North Syracuse Saturday afternoon with a berth to the semifinals on the line. Cicero-North Syracuse features one of the nation’s best players in Breanna Stewart, who has committed to UConn.

3. Christ the King (21-9/LW: 3): Were the Royals simply just not as good as Nazareth this season or did they not perform to their capabilities? That’s the question coach Bob Mackey has to find the answer to.

4. South Shore (23-6/LW: 4): South Shore coach Anwar Gladden wasn’t happy with the referees against Murry Bergtraum, but the Lady Blazers were the better team last Sunday in the championship.

5. Moore Catholic (23-5/LW: 5): With St. Peter’s gone, does Moore Catholic become the school to beat on Staten Island? We think so.

6. Mary Louis Academy (19-9/LW: 6): The Hilltoppers turned it on in the postseason but got a bad draw against Nazareth. The Hilltoppers were 0-4 vs. Nazareth this year.

7. St. Peter’s (21-8/LW: 7): The process of choosing news schools will be a tough one for the St. Peter's girls.

8. JFK (18-10/LW: 8): JFK plays with a swagger instilled from head coach O’Neil Glenn and that will serve the team well in the future.

9. Francis Lewis (18-7/LW: 9): Getting to the PSAL semifinals was a start, but they probably didn’t expect to get blown out last week.

10. Archbishop Molloy (16-13/LW: 10): Molloy will meet Wings Academy Friday in the semifinals.

Girls Top 10 poll

March, 14, 2011
3/14/11
2:14
PM ET
No more can be said about whether Nazareth or Christ the King is the top team in the CHSAA. After the Lady Kingsmen beat the Royals three out of four teams, it’s clear Nazareth was the better team. And for all those who thought Murry Bergtraum was going to have a down year, a 13th straight title sure is a great prize for a “down year.”

1. Nazareth (28-3/LW: 1): After a miraculous come-from-behind win against St. Anthony’s in the semifinals, Nazareth held off Christ the King to win the Intersectional AA title. The Lady Kingsmen were the best team in the city from start to finish and will now try to finish off the season in Albany.

2. Murry Bergtraum (22-3/LW: 2): Murry Bergtraum heard all the critics saying that it would have a down year, but the Lady Blazers beat all challengers and won their 13th straight title. While this Murry team might not be as talented as the others, it’s certainly gritty, as it won several close games in the tournament.

3. Christ the King (21-9/LW: 3): Christ the King has to consider this season a disappointment. No division, tournament, or state title for a team with two Division I players is not the way the Royals expected this season to play out. For some reason, they could never put it all together.

4. South Shore (23-6/LW: 6): South Shore probably has more talent than Murry Bergtraum, but couldn’t find a way to beat the Lady Blazers for the title. After blitzing Francis Lewis, the Lady Vikings looked like prime candidates to end Murry’s run, but didn’t play their best game Sunday.

5. Moore Catholic (23-5/LW: 4): Moore Catholic’s season ended abruptly with a loss in the quarterfinals of the AA Tournament to St. John the Baptist. The Mavericks had a great season, winning two of four against St. Peter’s and establishing themselves as the premier CHSAA team on Staten Island for next season.

6. Mary Louis Academy (19-8/LW: 6): Mary Louis fell to 0-4 against Nazareth after it lost to the Lady Kingsmen in the quarterfinals of the AA Tournament. Mary Louis was 1-6 against Nazareth and Christ the King, but 18-2 against the rest of its competition. It just ran into the wrong teams at the wrong time.

7. St. Peter’s (21-8/LW: 7): St. Peter’s final season came to a close with a beatdown by St. Anthony’s in the Quarterfinals. It’s a rough ending for the Eagles, who lost for their final two games as the school closes at the end of the year. Now, for the younger players, they will have to find new homes.

8. JFK (18-10/LW: 9): JFK took Murry Bergtraum down to the wire, but couldn’t finish the job in the semifinals. The Lady Knights challenged themselves all season with a tough schedule, and it seemed to pay off as they pushed the eventual champions to the wire.

9. Francis Lewis (18-7/LW: 8): Francis Lewis drops a spot after not challenging South Shore in the finals. Leading up to the game, the Patriots had talked of revenge, but they didn’t even challenge South Shore. Still, a semifinal appearance is nothing to sneeze at.

10. Archbishop Molloy (16-13/LW: Unranked): While Molloy lost to AA Teams to enter the A Tournament, it still emerged as A Champions, which enters the Stanners back into our top 10 rankings. While they had an up-and-down season, that state title makes it all worth it.

Girls top 10 poll

March, 7, 2011
3/07/11
10:25
AM ET
There are four teams left in the PSAL "AA" tournament while the CHSAA begins its state tournament this week. Let's take a look at who are the top teams in the city heading into these final games.

1. Nazareth (25-3/LW: 1): Nazareth won the Brooklyn/Queens Division I title and will now look to win CHSAA Class AA state title.

2. Murry Bergtraum (20-3/LW: 3): Murry Bergtraum is going for its 13th straight PSAL "AA" title and will meet JFK in the semifinals.

3. Christ the King (19-8/LW: 2): Christ the King hasn't played up to its potential lately and could finish the season in a disappointing fashion.

4. Moore Catholic (23-4/LW: 5): Moore Catholic evened up the season series against St. Peter's.

5. South Shore (22-5/LW: 6): It wasn't pretty, but South Shore advanced to the semifinals of the AA tournament with a win over Midwood.

6. Mary Louis Academy (18-7/LW: 8): Mary Louis finally knocked off Christ the King in the Brooklyn/Queens Division I playoffs.

7. St. Peter’s (21-7/LW: 4): St. Peter’s will be the Archdiocesan No. 2 seed in the AA state tournament.

8. Francis Lewis (18-6/LW: 8): Francis Lewis gets its rematch against South Shore.

9. JFK (18-9/LW: 9): JFK will try to take down Murry in the semis.

10. Bishop Ford (12-14/LW: Unranked): Bishop Ford took down Molloy and battled Nazareth tough in the Brooklyn/Queens Division I tournament.

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).

Girls top 10 rankings

February, 28, 2011
2/28/11
2:28
PM ET
Two tiebreaking matchups to determine seeds for the playoffs have created change at the top of our poll. Nazareth retakes the crown while St. Peter’s moves up the pecking order. Let’s take a look.

1. Nazareth (22-3/LW: 2): Nazareth defeated Christ the King and holds a 2-1 series lead with a fourth game looming Saturday.

2. Christ the King (18-7/LW: 1): Christ the King lost to Nazareth without its best player as the reserves failed to step up.

3. Murry Bergtraum (18-3/LW: 3): Murry Bergtraum faces No. 16 Dewitt Clinton Tues.

4. St. Peter’s (17-6/LW: 5): St. Peter’s won its 16th straight Staten Island title and is headed on a path to face Moore Catholic for the fourth time.

5. Moore Catholic (21-4/LW: 4): Moore Catholic now is 1-2 against St. Peter’s.

6. South Shore (20-5/LW: 6): South Shore faces No. 15 Boys & Girls Wednesday.

7. Francis Lewis (16-6/LW: 8): Francis Lewis battles No. 14 James Madison Wednesday.

8. Mary Louis Academy (16-7/LW: 9): The Hilltoppers picked up a nice win against Long Island Lutheran Thursday.

9. JFK (16-9/LW: 7): JFK lost to Molloy and faces No. 13 August Martin Tuesday.

10. McKee/SI Tech (19-5/LW: 10): McKee/SI tech faces No. 11 Truman Wednesday.

Girls top 10 poll

February, 21, 2011
2/21/11
1:07
PM ET
While there are few girls games this week, we are going to get to see some key rematches for titles between Christ the King and Nazareth and St. Peter’s and Moore Catholic.

1. Christ the King (17-6/LW: 1): Christ the King will try to make it two of three against Nazareth Wednesday.

2. Nazareth (21-3/LW: 2): Nazareth can reclaim the top spot by beating Christ the King.

3. Murry Bergtraum (18-3/LW: 3): Murry Bergtraum faces Dewitt Clinton next week in the second round of the PSAL tournament.

4. Moore Catholic (20-3/LW: 4): Moore Catholic faces St. Peter’s for Staten Island title.

5. St. Peter’s (13-5/LW: 5): St. Peter’s will try to win its 16th straight Staten Island title.

6. South Shore (20-5/LW: 6): South Shore faces Boys & Girls in the second round.

7. JFK (16-8/LW: 7): JFK will take on August Martin next round.

8. Francis Lewis (16-6/LW: 8): Francis Lewis battles James Madison next.

9. Mary Louis Academy (14-6/LW: 9): The Hilltoppers picked up a win against St. Francis Prep.

10. McKee/SI Tech (19-5/LW: Unranked): McKee/SI tech faces Truman in the tournament.

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