New York High School: John Burke

Recruiting: Pearson, Astel decide

April, 19, 2012
Truman senior forward Krystal Pearson has never been away from her home Bronx for more than a week, so as she decided which school she would attend, she had to make sure that her future college would make the transition rather easy for her.

"Going to college, I want to make sure I'm happy and feel comfortable," Pearson said. "I wanted the feeling like I'm going from my family to another family."

Towson found the comfort she was looking for at Towson and she signed her National Letter of Intent with the Tigers. She chose them over VCU, Florida Atlantic and Cleveland State.

"I'm very excited with my new team, my new coaching staff and am excited to be living on a campus soon," Pearson said. "I'm happy to be able to play Division I basketball."

Pearson, who averaged 15.4 points and 12.4 rebounds this year, made her decision after coming back from a trip to Ireland. She did not want to wait any longer because Towson was recruiting another player in case she decided not to choose it.

She added that if she performs what's asked of her, there is the chance for playing time right away. Her coach, John Burke, believes that Towson is a great fit for Pearson.

"She's the best player I ever had," Burke said. "She can do it all. She left a legacy and players now want to come to Truman. She puts on the map basically. She's a legend in my eyes.

ASTEL TO MANHATTAN: Having the opportunity to play her college basketball close to home in New York City appealed to McKee/SI Tech senior forward Kaitlyn Astel.

"I think the distance played a big factor," said Astel, a Staten Island native who committed to Manhattan on Saturday. "I definitely liked the location and they had a lot of interest in me."

Astel chose Manhattan over Cleveland State, and a pair of Division II schools in Philadelphia University and New Haven. The senior narrowed her list based on whether schools offered engineering, as that's what she plans to major in.

The forward made her decision after returning home from a vacation. She talked it over with her family and realized that Manhattan fit her the best. Astel averaged 20 points and eight rebounds for MSIT while leading it to the PSAL Class AA title game.

"It's a huge relief because I've had people asking me the whole year about it but I couldn't rush the process," Astel said. "It's really exciting to have made it to a Division I school and I think I made the right choice."

Her coach, Peter LaMarca, believes it's a perfect match.

"Kaitlyn really wanted engineering and they have that and it's a great school and they play Division I," LaMarca said. "She lives there, her family can go see her and she's going to excel. I think Manhattan got a steal, I really do."

Girls coaches pleased with AA seeds

February, 12, 2012
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."