The Brooklyn Collegiate Lions trailed by one and with less than 30 seconds left on the clock it looked like their season was over when Wings Academy’s Desure Buie was called for travelling. That gave them 14.5 seconds to make a final play to save their season and that meant getting the ball to Davere Creighton.
“I was thinking that we got another chance to live,” Creighton said. “As a young player and a leader on this team, I had to buckle down and hit a big shot at the end.”
On the next play, point guard Cheyenne Nettleton was able to find Creighton at the left elbow and he knocked down a jump shot, a season saving shot. Collegiate went on to beat Wings Academy 56-55 at Hunter College on Sunday to advance to the semifinals round of the Public School Athletic League playoffs.
“None of our teammates want to go home,” Craig McKenzie said. “Coach taught us the game plan, we followed it and it was all about heart and playing hard. We don’t want to go home, we knew that we could win this game and move on.”
It was a big win against a team that many felt was the second best team in New York City after Lincoln High School and expected to make it all the way to the finals at the Barclays Center. It wasn’t an easy one either as they fell behind 18-11 after the first quarter and looked over-matched.
“In the first quarter I could tell the guys were a little nervous on this stage, but after a while they started settling in and we went on a good run,” head coach Jacob Edwards said. “We said, ‘if we speed them up it’ll take them out of their element,’ and that’s what we focused on after that.”
Collegiate was successful in taking Wings out of their element thanks to a 15-0 run in the second quarter that gave them a 29-21 lead. That run was started when McKenzie hit a big three and followed it up with a layup. The two teams played a close game throughout the second half, but Collegiate clearly looked like they wanted it more.
“This was the team that knocked us out of the playoffs last year and our guys wanted revenge,” Edwards said. “That certainly motivated our players and you could see it in the fourth quarter.”
Wings wasn’t always the favorite to challenge Lincoln. Prior to the season it was Collegiate, but that was before its best player, Jahlill Tripp, hurt his leg and was out for the season. Other players suffered various injuries as well and Collegiate played at least eight games with only seven players. As a result they lost some big games and were eventually left out of the conversation for the city title.
“It’s been a tough season losing our leader and it has been emotional,” Creighton said. “Now we’re in the playoffs and everybody starts off at 0-0. We’re doing this for (Tripp) because he got hurt in front of us. I’m dedicating this season to him. We have to win a championship for him.”
Nettleton led Collegiate with 13 points, Creighton, McKenzie and Adrian Williams each had 10 apiece. Willie Barnes finished with seven points. Foday Sankaray led Wings with 12 points, Buie had eight and Jessie Govan had eight.
Collegiate will now face Cardozo in the PSAL semifinals on Wednesday. The winner of that game goes on to play the winner of the Lincoln-Jefferson game at the Barclays Center for the championship.
JEFFERSON STOPS CURTIS
Thomas Jefferson was without its leading scorer Daquaise Andrews, who was suspended for pushing an opponent during a previous game, but sophomore Curtis Smith stepped up in his place and led the Orange Wave with 17 points in a 73-57 win over Curtis in the PSAL quarter finals.
“It wasn’t as easy as the score showed,” Jefferson coach Bud Pollard said. “It was a tough win. They made some runs. We couldn’t really put them away. We went up about 20 and they came back on a 10-2 run. They had some fight in them. We just got off to a good start early and got some good play from our fowards. Curtis Smith’s 17 points was big coming in here filling in for Day-Day.”
Jefferson opened the game with a 9-0 run and eventually led by 10 at the end of the first quarter. The Orange Wave eventually pulled ahead 38-19 in the second quarter and the closest Curtis would get to after that was within 11 points. Smith led with 17 points, Devonte Wilson and Papa Ekow Donkor each had 12, and Patrick Brown had nine.
Jefferson will face Lincoln in the semifinals, a team that beat them in the city championships last year as well as this year’s Brooklyn borough playoffs.
END OF THE LINE FOR SOUTH SHORE
The South Shore Vikings were an impressive team that had an impressive season, but, unfortunately, their run has come to an end after they lost 69-66 to Cardozo on Sunday.
This was a game that was mostly fought from the free throw line as the two teams had 20 fouls in the first 12 minutes and more than 30 between them before halftime. The game was tied at 60-60 with less than two minutes to play when South Shore was called for a foul even though there didn’t appear to be any contact between the defender and the shooter.
Marzuq Jimoh hit a pair of free throws after that phantom foul and that ended up being the difference in the game.
“I thought there were some questionable calls, but we’ve been dealing with that all season,” South Shore coach Mike Beckles said. “At this point in the year, playoff basketball, four of my players fouled out and there were a lot of questionable calls.”
LINCOLN KEEPS ON ROLLING
The Lincoln Railsplitters continued to show off why they are considered the team to beat in New York City when they easily defeated a talented Westinghouse squad 84-67. Unlike the Jefferson game, where the score made it appear to be more one-sided than it actually was, this game could have been much worse, but many of the Railsplitters starters sat during the second half.
“I think we played a great team game,” head coach Dwayne “Tiny” Morton said. “Westinghouse did a great job to keep fighting. Our guys played a great team game, we had a lot of assists.”
Lincoln has two players going to Seton Hall, Isaiah Whitehead and Desi Rodriguez, one going to St. Peter’s, Elisha Boone, and another, Thomas Holley, going to Florida on a football scholarship and could likely land a Division I scholship for basketball if he weren’t better at football. The four of them play extremely well together and make it unlikely that anyone can beat them even in the finals.
“After coming back from our vacation in North Carolina they have stepped it up a bit,” Morton said. “The biggest thing that we have seen is the individual work. The seniors I have are having a strong end of the year in terms of in the court and off the court.”
Whitehead led the game with 26 points, Boone had 21 and Rodriguez finished with 16.