The Westinghouse Warriors beat the Brooklyn Collegiate Lions both times during the regular season, but by the third game the Lions finally figured out how to beat them as they won 67-58 in the first round of the Public School Athletic League’s Brooklyn Borough Playoffs in Downtown Brooklyn on Tuesday.
“It feels very good,” Collegiate’s Craig McKenzie said. “We needed revenge. We felt like we should have beaten them both times, but we didn’t play well. It’s a different game in the playoffs. It’s go hard or go home so we knew that we had to pick our game up. We needed this win.”
The biggest difference for the Lions was that this was the first time they got to face the Warriors with more than eight players. Head coach Jacob Edwards explained that it allowed them to do things differently on the court.
“Today was the first time that we’ve played them with more than eight guys so we were able to put pressure on them from the beginning of the game,” Edwards said. “The last couple of times we played them we had to stay back in the zone to preserve bodies. Today we came out with pressure and sped up the game and it really helped us.”
Collegiate’s Willie Barnes also explained that after facing them two times they were able to pick up on their defensive schemes and exploit them. “One of the things was that we realized that we had to pound them on the inside,” he said.
“We tried not to shoot too many jump shots unless we were open,” McKenzie added. “We wanted to do most of our damage in the paint.”
Barnes was able to use the inside game to his advantage as he racked up 19 points, McKenzie added 13 more and Davere Creighton had 11. Once the inside game was established it allowed guard Adrian Williams more space on the outside where he added another 10 points.
The first half was close. Collegiate opened with a 10-3 lead when Creighton hit a three early and then a layup midway through the first quarter. Westinghouse quickly came back though with layups from four different players. Collegiate got out ahead again to start the second, but Gerald Williams got hot and cut the lead to 25-23.
Collegiate came out with a lot of intensity in the third quarter, especially on defense where their full court press led to four turnovers in a four minute span. That helped the Lions to a 11-1 run that gave them a 44-28 lead which was their largest of the night.
Westinghouse had one more run in them early in the fourth quarter though as Williams continued to cause trouble for the Warriors and cut the lead down to four points. However, a pair of missed three-pointers with less than two minutes to play hurt their momentum and cost them their comeback attempt.
“We’re on their court in a playoff game so we know that they’re going to make a late run,” Edwards said. “But we weathered the storm, we were able to maintain the lead and keep our composure down the stretch. I was very proud of that.”
After the game, Edwards pointed out that getting players back healthy was a key to this game and that they’ll be even better once point guard Cheyenne Nettleton returns which he’s expected to do by the first round of the city playoffs. Jahlil Tripp won’t return though after his season ended with a broken leg that he suffered back in January. The players said that they still use his absence as motivation.
“I think we do need to prove that as a team we can still play without our star Jahlil,” McKenzie said. “He was a big part of our team and we expected him to take us to the Barclays this year. Unfortunately, he got injured and now we have to prove to the city that we’re a team and we can still play without him. We definitely go out there with something to prove.”
In other borough playoff action, Jefferson beat Lafayette 83-56 behind 20 points from Daquaise Andrews and 19 points from Shamorie Ponds, South Shore beat Bedford Academy 85-71 with a big 27 points from Devyn Wilson and Lincoln beat Brooklyn Law and Technology 85-65.
Weather permitting, Lincoln will host Collegiate and Jefferson will host South Shore on Thursday in the second round of the Brooklyn borough playoffs.