New York High School: Lincoln

Final boys basketball poll

March, 26, 2012
After two straight unsuccessful trips to the State Federation tournament, Boys & Girls is the the best in the state after its win against Mount Vernon. With that win, the Kangaroos end the season as our No. 1 team. Here's the final poll.

1. Boys & Girls (26-6/(LW: 2): Boys & Girls proved that it perhaps flew under the radar early this season, but it clearly ends as the best team in the City, having beaten virtually every team in this top 10 poll on the way to the State Federation crown.

2. St. Raymond (21-10)/(LW: 1): St. Raymond figured to be one of the best teams in the city with a strong senior class and it backed it up by winning the CHSAA title. Next year will be tough with a couple key players gone but there are still quality pieces left.

3. Thomas Jefferson (25-7) /(LW: 3): Jefferson perhaps was the surprise team of the season as it went from the fourth-best team in Brooklyn to just a few shots away from winning the PSAL title. The Orange Wave should be good again next year.

4. Holy Cross (24-5)/(LW: 4): Holy Cross didn't make much noise in the preseason but showed that it belonged with anybody by winning the Brooklyn/Queens title. The loss of a few key seniors could slow it down next season.

5. Cardinal Hayes (24-5)/(LW: 5): Cardinal Hayes has established itself as one of the top programs in New York City, but will have to deal with a large group of seniors graduating. There is talent in the backcourt, though.

6. Mount (21-8)/(LW: 6): Mount was another team that flew under the radar only to make lots of noise in the postseason. Like other teams on this list, the question is going to be how can it respond next season with the loss of key seniors.

7. Christ the King (19-8)/(LW: 7): Christ the King fell short in its quest for a third straight title this season but will be right back in the mix next year. A strong and talented backcourt will complement a frontcourt that has some size.

8. Wings (26-4)/(LW: 8): Wings has been so close to getting to the PSAL final but has fallen short in the semifinal the last two years. It will have some young pieces next year and could be in for another good year.

9. Lincoln (19-10)/(LW: 9): This year was a disappointment for Lincoln but the Coney Island school will be right back at it next season. A strong backcourt will keep Lincoln near the top of this poll all season.

10. South Shore (18-10)/(LW: 10): South Shore has to look at this season as disappointing considering its expectations, but it should be strong again next year. Of course, playing in Brooklyn AA is never an easy task for any school.

Boys basketball poll: March 19

March, 19, 2012
And then there were two. After Boys & Girls defeated Thomas Jefferson to win its third straight Public Schools Athletic League Class AA title, the Kangaroos and St. Raymond are the only two AA teams left. They will meet in the semifinals of the New York State Federation tournament, with a spot against Mount Vernon in the final on the line. Here's this week's poll.

1. St. Raymond (21-9)/(LW: 2): St. Raymond defeated Boys & Girls on a buzzer beater earlier this year and will try to make it 2-0 vs. the Brooklyn power.

2. Boys & Girls (24-6/(LW: 3): Boys & Girls is back in the New York State Federation tournament, after losing last year in the semifinals to eventual champ Mount Vernon.

3. Thomas Jefferson (25-7) /(LW: 1): Jefferson lost a tough game to Boys & Girls in the AA final but had a great season overall and outperformed most expectations.

4. Holy Cross (24-5)/(LW: 4): Holy Cross had quite the successful season, winning the Brooklyn/Queens tournament final and making the Archdiocesan final.

5. Cardinal Hayes (24-5)/(LW: 5): Those two losses to St. Raymond at the end of the year have to sting, considering the Cardinals won the first two games.

6. Mount (21-8)/(LW: 6): Mount gave it all it had this year, making the Archdiocesan final and then upsetting Christ the King in the Intersectional tournament.

7. Christ the King (19-8)/(LW: 7): Would Christ the King have won the Intersectional title had it won or made the Brooklyn/Queens tournament final?

8. Wings (26-4)/(LW: 8): Wings easily could have been playing against Boys & Girls but that final minute of the game against Jefferson has to be haunting it.

9. Lincoln (19-10)/(LW: 9): Lincoln is going to have to try and stop its rival Boys & Girls from owning New York City as the Kangaroos have won three straight.

10. South Shore (18-10)/(LW: 10): South Shore beat the eventual PSAL champ earlier this year, which has to make the team wonder if it underachieved this year.

Boys basketball poll: March 12

March, 12, 2012
After a great week of hoops, St. Raymond is the CHSAA Class AA Intersectional champion and the PSAL has its final set between Thomas Jefferson and Boys & Girls. Those are the only three Class AA teams left in New York City and two of them will represent the Big Apple at the State Federation tournament in Albany next weekend.

1. Thomas Jefferson (25-6) /(LW: 1): Jefferson survived a scare against Wings Academy and heads to the final as the favorite, as it has bested Boys & Girls two of three times.

2. St. Raymond (21-9)/(LW: 2): St. Raymond rallied to take down Cardinal Hayes and then vanquished Holy Cross to win its first title since back-to-back crowns in 2003-04.

3. Boys & Girls (23-6/(LW: 3): Boys & Girls built up an early lead against rival Lincoln and then held off the Railsplitters late, and will now try to win its third straight title.

4. Holy Cross (24-5)/(LW: 4): Holy Cross didn't have enough size inside to defeat St. Raymond and fell in the tittle game as it tried to win its second title in five years.

5. Cardinal Hayes (24-5)/(LW: 5): Hayes couldn't hold an eight-point lead late against St. Raymond and watched its rivals instead go on to win the Class AA title.

6. Mount (21-8)/(LW: 6): Mount could not carry over its momentum from beating Christ the King as it lost by 15 to Holy Cross in the semifinals of the tournament.

7. Christ the King (19-8)/(LW: 2): Christ the King easily could have been playing for the Intersectional title but instead had to watch the title game for the first time in three years.

8. Wings (26-4)/(LW: 9): Wings saw its season end in a heartbreaking loss to Jefferson but fought to the final minute with the league's top seed.

9. Lincoln (19-10)/(LW: 8): It's easy to say that this season did not go as planned for Lincoln, which had so much talent but could not put it all together.

10. South Shore (18-10)/(LW: 10): South Shore at least can say it lost to a title game finalist for the second straight season, if that's any consolation.

Rapid Reaction: Boys 72, Lincoln 63

March, 11, 2012
For a long time, it was the Lincoln boys basketball team that ruled Brooklyn and New York City. From 2002-09, it won seven city championships.

Lately, though, it has been Boys and Girls that has ruled the city.

After beating Lincoln for the third time this season on Saturday in the Public Schools Athletic Class semifinals, the Kangaroos are headed back to Madison Square Garden as they attempt to three-peat as city champions and firmly establish themselves as the team that runs New York.

“I don't think it really sunk in yet, but it's definitely a great feeling,” Boys and Girls head coach Ruth Lovelace said of her chance to three-peat. “There are only two teams to go and to be blessed to be one of them is really amazing. I'm just so humble as a coach, I don't really speak out to things like that.”

Boys and Girls had won the two previous games against Lincoln, but Lincoln didn’t have its star player, Isaiah Whitehead, for a full game in either of the first two matchups. Whitehead played Saturday but it didn’t matter as Boys High beat Lincoln, 72-63, at St. John’s University in Queens to advance to the PSAL finals.

EARLY FOUL TROUBLE: Boys and Girls knows that Whitehead is one of the most talented players in the city so the game plan was to try to get him into foul trouble. It didn’t take long for that to happen on Saturday as Whitehead committed a pair of fouls in the first two minutes of the game and quickly found himself on the bench.

“Isaiah got in foul trouble early and that was really big,” Leroy “Truck” Fludd said. “That changed the game a lot because that's their best player and for him to get out of the game early that really messed them up and they weren't focused.”

Whitehead sat on the bench for most of the game and fouled out in the final minutes. He finished with 13 points and was never the dominant force Lincoln needed him to be.

HOW THE GAME WAS WON: With Whitehead in foul trouble early and Tafari Whittingham still out due to a suspension, Lincoln had trouble finding consistent scoring early. It managed to hang in there in the first quarter, but in the second, Boys High built up a seven-point lead.

In the third quarter, things completely unraveled for Lincoln. Wesley Myers and Rashad Andrews pushed the lead to 13 points and frustration took over for Lincoln. Boys and Girls went 11-for-17 from the line in the final four minutes of that quarter and led by 19 after three.

TOO LITTLE TOO LATE: Lincoln started clawing back in the fourth quarter when Rakim Lasane and Whitehead led a 14-2 run, putting the Railsplitters down just eight points. However, there was just 1:33 left at the end of the run, not enough time to finish the comeback.

With the seconds ticking off the clock, Lincoln had no other choice but to start fouling Boys and Girls. The Kangaroos made nine of 14 shots from the line in that final 1:33.

STATS: Wesley Myers finished the game with 21 points and five assists, Fludd had 20 points and 12 rebounds, and Andrews had 10. Rakim Lasane had 14 for Lincoln, Whitehead had 13 and Ethan Telfair had 10.

UP NEXT: It’s all on the line as Boys and Girls heads to the Garden next week as it takes on Jefferson in the two team’s fourth matchup this season. Jefferson has a 2-1 advantage.

Boys basketball poll: March 5

March, 5, 2012
There's only eight teams left in the Class AA after this weekend's crazy slate of games. Christ the King, the two-time defending CHSAA champion, fell in the quarterfinal to Mount St. Michael, meaning the CHSAA will have a new champion. Over in the PSAL, three of the teams left are from Brooklyn with Wings Academy also getting to the semifinals. Here's the poll.

1. Thomas Jefferson (24-6) /(LW: 1): Top-seeded Jefferson is in the semifinals after it defeated Robeson and Wadleigh this week. It will face Wings Academy.

2. St. Raymond (19-9)/(LW: 3): St. Raymond is in the semifinals for the third straight year and will try to advance to the final when it takes on Cardinal Hayes.

3. Boys & Girls (22-6/(LW: 4): Boys & Girls had an impressive win against South Shore and is now getting ready for a fourth meeting with rival Lincoln.

4. Holy Cross (23-4)/(LW: 5): Holy Cross came back from an 11-point halftime deficit to defeat Molloy and now will face Mount St. Michael in the semifinals.

5. Cardinal Hayes (24-4)/(LW: 6): Hayes defeated both St. Francis Prep and Bishop Loughlin easily as it advanced to the semifinals to face St. Raymond.

6. Mount (21-7)/(LW: 9): Mount had the upset of the weekend as it took down Christ the King in the quarterfinals to advance to the semifinals against Holy Cross.

7. Christ the King (19-8)/(LW: 2): CK saw its season come to an end early as it fell to Mount St. Michael in the quarters, ending hopes of a three-peat.

8. Lincoln (19-9)/(LW: 7): Lincoln held off Curtis in the quarterfinals and now will try to exact revenge in the semifinals against Boys & Girls.

9. Wings (26-3)/(LW: 9): Wings barely beat Eagle Academy but took down Cardozo in the quarterfinals to setup a game with Jefferson in the semifinals.

10. South Shore (18-10)/(LW: 10): South Shore came into the year hoping for grand results but instead lost in the quarterfinals to Boys & Girls for the second straight year.

PSAL boys Class AA quarterfinals recap

March, 4, 2012
The PSAL has its final four set after Boys & Girls, Lincoln, Wings Academy and Thomas Jefferson each won in the quarterfinals. You can read more about Boys' win here, but here are the highlights from the other three games at St. John's.

Lincoln 60, Curtis 57: Lincoln thought it had an easy task taking on Curtis, but the game instead came down to the final possession as the third-seeded Railsplitters barely pulled off a 60-57 victory against sixth-seeded Curtis to advance to the semifinals against Boys & Girls.

“I think we were at least 15 points better than them,” Lincoln’s head coach Dwayne “Tiny” Morton said. “Obviously we weren’t. We were lucky, that last shot could easily have gone in or we could have been called for a foul.”

Morton once again singled out his star sophomore Isaiah Whitehead as a big reason for why his team underachieved. Whitehead, who led his team with 19 points, played in just his third game since returning from an ankle injury that kept him out for two weeks.

“No, I don't think he played really well,” Morton said. “He did some things he used to do, but he wasn't playing 100 percent in this game. He is much better than that. He didn't really push by anybody because his ankle is not there and you can tell.

“I don't think it's a physical thing, I think it's a mental thing. He's probably going to need two months off to get his ankle together.”

Wings 56, Cardozo 46: Fourth-seeded Wings played a shutdown defense that held fifth-seeded Cardozo to just four points in the first and third quarters on its way to an eventual 56-46 victory.

Wings coach Billy Turnage said after the game that he loves the way his team played defense, but he would like to see them turn more of its stops into points.

“We've been playing solid defense," Turnage said. "We have to reward ourselves for getting stops. We have the tendency to let up and give up too many offensive rebounds when we get stops though.”

Marvillo Berroa led Wings with 20 points and said he dedicated the game to his mother and sisters who encouraged him to turn his season around after a slow start.

Jefferson 80, Wadleigh 61: Jefferson carried a slim 35-34 into the half before exploding in the third quarter on its way to an eventual win. Thaddeus Hall led all with 25 points and string of three’s in the third quarter sparked the breakout.

“That's what Thaddeus has done since he's been back,” Jefferson coach Bud Pollard said. “I think Son Son (Jaquan Lynch) has been our MVP for the year because he carried us when Thaddeus wasn't here. But now he's back and he's going to carry us to a championship and he's been doing just that. He's making plays and showing us that he's a big leader.”

Also making a big contribution was Jalen Evans, whose father had a run-in with coach Pollard a couple weeks back when Jefferson faced St. Anthony’s. Evans had 17 points.

“I thought the story today was JJ Evans,” Pollard said. “He came off the bench and dominated the game. I just wish his father was here because last time he tried to slug me, today he could have hugged me. I'm going to call him up and say, 'give me a hug because last time you had a slug.'”

Jefferson will take on Wings Academy next week and according to Hall, the game should be easy.

“Wings, that's easy," he said. "I don't think Wings can deal with us. I just know for a fact that that's an easy game. They don't have any heart.”

PSAL upholds Whittingham's suspension

March, 3, 2012
The Public Schools Athletic League has upheld the three-game suspension for Lincoln junior forward Tafari Whittingham after an appeal by Lincoln, according to New York City Department of Education spokeswoman Margie Feinberg.

The junior missed Tuesday night's second-round game win Beach Channel/Channel View and will miss Sunday's quarterfinal against Curtis. If Lincoln wins, he would also miss the semifinal and he can only possibly return for the final if Lincoln gets that far.

Whittingham was suspended by the league for his alleged actions against a player on South Shore in the teams' game on Jan. 31. The referees stopped the game after a fight in the crowd that the two teams were said to have contributed to. The game was ruled a double forfeit.

Whittingham was suspended nearly a month after the incident because the PSAL recently received video from the melee and the league just reviewed it, according to Feinberg. Lincoln coach Dwayne "Tiny" Morton did not return calls seeking comment on Saturday.

Whittingham is averaging 12.4 points and 9.8 rebounds in league games, according to the league's website. He is in his first year at the Coney Island school after transferring from Stratford (Conn.). The suspension would carry over to next season if Lincoln loses in the quarterfinals or the semifinals.

PSAL girls quarterfinals recap

March, 3, 2012
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)."

Lincoln's Whittingham suspended

February, 28, 2012
Lincoln junior forward Tafari Whittingham has been suspended for three games for his actions against other player in his team's game against South Shore on Jan. 31, according to New York City Department of Education spokeswoman Margie Feinberg.

The penalty would prevent him from playing until the Public Schools Athletic League Class AA tournament title game, if Lincoln gets that far. The junior missed Tuesday night's second-round game against Beach Channel/Channel View, a game Lincoln won 82-27. Lincoln awaits the winner of Curtis vs. Campus Magnet in the quarterfinals.

On Jan. 31, Lincoln's game against South Shore was stopped with 4:01 left after the referees stopped the game. Lincoln was given the win at first as it was winning the game when the referees stopped it, but the game was later ruled a double forfeit. That ruling cost Lincoln a share of the Brooklyn AA title, instead giving Jefferson the division outright.

The suspension of Whittingham comes nearly a month after the incident because the PSAL recently received video from the melee and the league just reviewed it, according to Feinberg. The three games would cost Whittingham the second round, the quarterfinals and the semifinals for the third-seeded Railsplitters.

Lincoln head coach Dwayne "Tiny" Morton did not want to comment on the situation. The school could appeal the decision to try and get Whittingham reinstated before the final. He said that he had not seen the video that the PSAL used to make its ruling.

The junior has been one of Lincoln's best inside players as he is averaging 12.4 points and 9.8 rebounds in league games, according to the league's website. He is in his first year at the Coney Island school after transferring from Stratford (Conn.).

If Lincoln is eliminated in the tournament before Whittingham can play his three games, the suspension would carry over to next season.

Boys basketball poll: Feb. 27

February, 27, 2012
A crazy week in the CHSAA saw St. Raymond win the Archdiocesan title and Holy Cross take the Brooklyn/Queens championship. Since Christ the King lost, we have a new No. 1 this week once again. Here's this week's poll:

1. Thomas Jefferson (22-6) /(LW: 2): Jefferson moves back into the top spot with Christ the King's loss and faces Robeson in the second round.

2. Christ the King (18-7)/(LW: 1): CK had been as hot as any team in New York City before suffering a loss to Bishop Loughlin. We still think they're the team to beat in the CHSAA.

3. St. Raymond (18-9)/(LW: 5): St. Ray's is on an absolute tear after defeating Cardinal Hayes and Mount St. Michael to win the Archdiocesan tournament.

4. Boys & Girls (20-6/(LW: 3): Boys & Girls will face Samuel Gompers in the second round.

5. Holy Cross (22-4)/(LW: 9): Holy Cross won Brooklyn/Queens and will meet the winner of Molloy vs. St. Peter's in the quarters.

6. Cardinal Hayes (22-4)/(LW: 4): Hayes lost for the first time in three games against St. Raymond but could see the Ravens again.

7. Lincoln (17-8)/(LW: 6): Lincoln will face Beach Channel/Channel View in the second round.

8. Wings (24-3)/(LW: 7): Wings takes on Bronx rival Eagle Academy in the second round.

9. Mount (20-7/(LW: 10): Mount fell just short in its bid to take down St. Ray's in the tournament final.

10. South Shore (17-9)/(LW: 8): South Shore draws JFK in the second round.

Boys basketball poll: Feb. 20

February, 20, 2012
It seems like this happened last year. Christ the King fell to the middle of the pack in the rankings as it lost a few games, only to make a late surge to the top spot. That's the case this year as the Royals are back to No. 1, which is where they opened the season. Here's this week's poll.

1. Christ the King (18-6)/(LW: 2): CK defeated Burke Catholic and is riding high into the Brooklyn/Queens playoffs, where it's the No. 1 seed.

2. Thomas Jefferson (22-6) /(LW: 1): Jefferson lost a tough game to undefeated St. Anthony (N.J.) but bounced back with a nice neutral win vs. Xaverian.

3. Boys & Girls (20-6/(LW: 3): Boys & Girls fell to St. Raymond on the road in a buzzer beater and stays ahead of Hayes due to their head-to-head win.

4. Cardinal Hayes (22-3)/(LW: 4): Hayes went 2-0 this week against Fordham and will prepare for a tough game against St. Ray's in the Archdiocesan semis.

5. St. Raymond (16-9)/(LW: 10): When you beat Lincoln and Boys & Girls on back-to-back days, you're going to move up the rankings like the Ravens did.

6. Lincoln (17-8)/(LW: 5): Lincoln lost at home to St. Raymond but should be with point guard Isaiah Whitehead this week, which would change its team.

7. Wings (24-3)/(LW: 6): Wings had the week off and is preparing for its PSAL second round game against Bronx foe Eagle Academy.

8. South Shore (17-9)/(LW: 7): South Shore is getting ready for what might be the most intriguing second round game when its hosts JFK.

9. Holy Cross (20-4)/(LW: 8): Holy Cross had a nice week with wins over Fordham Prep and Bishop Loughlin and is the two seed in the Brooklyn/Queens playoffs.

10. Mount (19-6/(LW: Unranked): Mount works it way back into the rankings and will be preparing for its Archdiocesan semifinal game against St. Peter's.

PSAL boys AA predictions

February, 15, 2012
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)


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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.

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.

Boys basketball poll: Feb. 13

February, 13, 2012
Thomas Jefferson survived the Brooklyn borough playoffs and has thus retained its No. 1 ranking heading inot the playoffs. Here's this week's rankings.

1. Thomas Jefferson (21-5) /(LW: 1): Jefferson won the borough title and beat South Shore and Boys & Girls in the process. Great week for the Orange Wave.

2. Christ the King (17-6)/(LW: 2): CK had a great rally against Holy Cross to pick up its 17th win of the season last Friday night.

3. Boys & Girls (20-5/(LW: 3): Boys & Girls defeated Lincoln for the second time in three tries but blew a big lead against Jefferson in the borough playoffs.

4. Cardinal Hayes (20-3)/(LW: 5): Hayes rebounded with a strong week that included wins at home against Mount St. Michael and St. Raymond.

5. Lincoln (17-7)/(LW: 4): Lincoln lost to Boys & Girls at home but it is not at full strength. It has a big test this week as it hosts St. Raymond.

6. Wings (24-3)/(LW: 6): Wings was defeated in the Bronx borough playoffs, which likely prevented the team from being the No. 3 seed for the PSAL playoffs.

7. South Shore (17-9)/(LW: 7): South Shore blew a huge lead against Jefferson in the Brooklyn borough playoffs and then was given the No. 7 seed in the playoffs.

8. Holy Cross (18-4)/(LW: 8): Holy Cross failed to execute down the stretch against Christ the King and saw its chance for a big upset get sidelined.

9. Curtis (24-4)/(LW: 10): Curtis is simply on a roll, steamrolling through the Staten Island Tournament and pounding St. Peter's in the final.

10. St. Raymond (13-9)/(LW: 9): It's easy to say St. Ray's has not played up to expectations so far this season. The Ravens were pounded by Hayes this past week.

Morton not pleased with Class AA brackets

February, 12, 2012
Lincoln coach Dwayne "Tiny" Morton looks at his side of the bracket for the Class AA Tournament and sees a murderers row of teams that could knock off his third-seeded Railsplitters.

When he looks at the other half and the road that lies ahead for No. 1 Thomas Jefferson, the coach sees a red carpet being laid for the Orange Wave to the title game at Madison Square Garden.

"Jefferson's side is a joke," Morton said. "It's the teams he has to get through, besides maybe Wings and Cardozo. Our side is tough. It is what it is."

The Lincoln coach questioned the brackets after they were released late on Sunday night, looking at how the top three teams in Brooklyn all ended up on one side, opposite of the top seed in the bracket. Boys & Girls earned the two seed, Wings Academy was fourth and Cardozo came in at No. 5.

"I've never seen anything like this in my life," Morton said. "I can't even go watch Jefferson vs. Lehman or Wadleigh or even Bayside, because their best guy got hurt. It's just so uneven."

While there were certainly questions from league coaches about how the seeds shook out, Morton saw a discrepancy in talent on the sides of the bracket. He thought his team was going to be seeded fourth but Lincoln ended up third.

On his side is the defending champion Boys & Girls, a South Shore team that has wins against national opponents, a Curtis team that ran through Staten Island and the Bronx borough champion JFK. The bracket works out that Boys & Girls might have to play South Shore and Lincoln to even try to get to MSG.

Morton does not believe Jefferson's half, which includes Bronx runner-up Wings Academy, Queens champion Cardozo and Manhattan champion Wadleigh, matches up with the quality that his side presents. Jefferson earned the right to the No. 1 seed by winning the Brooklyn division and then tournament title.

"If Jefferson doesn't have a chance of going to the Garden, then they don't deserve it. I would be surprised," Morton said. "Bayside and Cardozo lost their best players. They're waiting to put Jefferson in the final."

Since the league's seeding procedures are not made public, there's no way to know exactly how the teams are seeded. Morton said he would have seeded the top eight teams individually, ranking what he viewed as the top eight teams and then pitting them against each other. His top eight were different than the teams the PSAL chose.

"The PSAL has their own agenda," Morton said. "Whoever is making their decisions, I don't think it is basketball people."

Jefferson coach Bud Pollard certainly wasn't complaining that his three Brooklyn rivals were all on the other side of the bracket. He said it would have been tough for his team to match up for the fourth time with South Shore, who his team is already 3-0 against this season.

"That's good, that's what the one seed should have. I'm tired of fighting those filthy animals all year, I deserve some separation in the playoffs," Pollard said of the other Brooklyn powers being on one side. "That's my reward. I deserve it."

Outside of Morton's questioning of how the bracket played out, most coaches did not have problems with the overall seedings. There were questions about certain teams, with the consensus being that JFK was seeded too low after winning the Bronx borough title and Brooklyn coaches feeling South Shore was undervalued, but nothing too egregious.

Wadleigh coach Mike Crump, whose team is the eight seed and could potentially face Jefferson in the quarterfinals, said his team has no fear of the Orange Wave if they meet. First up for the Tigers, though, is Bayside, but Crump pulled a Joe Namath.

"(Bayside coach) Corey (Semper) is a good friend of mine but he's going down in flames," Crump said. "We'll be ready to go. You better believe we'll be ready to go."

PSAL borough playoffs preview

February, 8, 2012
The Public Schools Athletic League borough playoffs begin on Tuesday in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan. The quarterfinals are Tuesday, the semifinals are on Thursday and the finals are on Saturday. Here are the brackets for each of the respective boroughs.


No. 1 Thomas Jefferson vs. No. 8 Lafayette
No. 2 Lincoln vs. No. 7 Global & International Studies
No. 3 Boys & Girls vs. No. 6 Bedford Academy
No. 4 South Shore vs. No. 5 Brooklyn Collegiate


No. 1 Wings Academy vs. No. 8 Stevenson
No. 2 JFK vs. No. 7 Dewitt Clinton
No. 3 Eagle Academy vs. No. 6 Evander Childs
No. 4 Lehman vs. No. 5 Mott Haven


No. 1 Bayside vs. No. 8 John Adams
No. 2 Cardozo vs. No. 7 HS for Construction
No. 3 Campus Magnet vs. No. 6 Springfield Gardens
No. 4 Beach Channel/Channel View vs. No. 5 LIC


No. 1 Wadleigh vs. No. 8 Elanor Roosevelt
No. 2 Manhattan Center vs. No. 7 Health Professions
No. 3 Hunter College vs. No. 6 Stuyvesant
No. 4 Graphic Communication vs. No. 5 Norman Thomas

BEST BOROUGH: BROOKLYN: There are five ranked teams from the PSAL this season. Four of them reside in Brooklyn, including the top team in the city, Thomas Jefferson, and two other top four teams in Lincoln and Boys & Girls. The semifinals could potentially be the Class AA tournament semifinals and that tells you just how strong this bracket is.

WORST BOROUGH: MANHATTAN: There's really only solid team in the borough and that's Wadleigh. The rest of the teams are not up to the caliber of Wadleigh and it should roll relatively easily through the bracket. There isn't really any intriguing matchup and there are only two teams from the AA in the bracket. It's just not as exciting as others.

INTRIGUING BOROUGH: QUEENS: Cardozo is the class of Queens but is not as powerful as it has been in the past. It's the No. 2 seed behind Bayside and will potentially have to beat Campus Magnet, a team that already beat it earlier this year, in the semifinals to reach the final. It seems that each year it's which team will face Cardozo in the final but this year Cardozo enters as a possible underdog.

THE 'CAN ANYONE BEAT WINGS' BOROUGH: THE BRONX: Wings Academy is undefeated in league play and is the only team in the PSAL do to that. Wings is the cream of the crop in the Bronx and it's going to be interesting to see if any team in the division can give them a game in the final. The two top contenders, JFK and Eagle Academy, will meet in the semifinals, meaning Wings will only have to go through one of them if it wants to defend its title.

THE BEST POSSIBLE FINAL: Boys & Girls vs. Jefferson: No offense to Lincoln, but without star Isaiah Whitehead, it's not at full strength and that takes away from the intrigue. Boys & Girls and Jefferson are both healthy and have had two games that came down to the final minute, including last week's overtime win for Jefferson. If these two teams make it, it would steal the show and potentially determine who will be the top seed for the AA Tournament.

THE PICKS: Boys & Girls over Jefferson; Bayside over Cardozo; Wings over Eagle Academy; Wadleigh over MCSM.