This was Jefferson High School’s third trip to the Public School Athletic League (PSAL) finals in the last three years and after it beat a loaded Lincoln High School in the semifinals just to get to the Barclays Center it seemed inevitable that they would finally win that elusive championship.
However, a slow start and a terrible second quarter where the Orange Wave scored just one field goal came back to haunt them late in the game as they lost 55-54 to Cardozo High School at the Barclays Center on Saturday night.
“I really thought they deserved to win today,” said Bud Pollard, who declared himself the “new boss” and the “big dog” after the win over Lincoln. “The effort they gave me from last Friday to Sunday to Wednesday to today was phenomenal. I can’t ask more from these kids and I am so proud for these guys. ”
Pollard said that the hardest thing about the loss will be facing the people of East New York, who have desperately wanted to see their local school win a city title.
“It’s tough to take,” Pollard said. “I really wish that we could have won this for the people. The people of East New York, the people from the school, the fans, the parents. They’re the ones that really wanted this bad. They’re bothering me and pestering me. I’m happy with the improvement of the team.
“I don’t really judge my success of my career based on championships,” he said. “I’m happy to coach the team. When the championship comes I’ll be blessed to have it, but right now it’s not our time. ”
The Orange Wave shot 6-for-31 in the first half and a three by Patrick Brown early in the second quarter was their only second quarter points. They still had a chance to win with a big second half, but sophomore Shamorie Ponds missed the front end of a one-and-one, Cardozo grabbed the rebound and Rashond Salnave hit a pair of free throws with 2.5 seconds left to secure the slim victory.
“We really wanted to be the first championship team to rise the banner at the Barclays,” senior Devonte Wilson said. “It would have been a great one. Those last two turnovers at the end of the game cost us.
“The future is bright, though,” Wilson continued. “I have a lot of faith in what this team will be able to do over the next two years. My man Shamorie Ponds should be getting a ring over these next two years.”
This was the first time a team from Queens won the city title by beating a team from Brooklyn in every round of the playoffs. Cardozo head coach Ron Naclerio admitted that he might have dodged a monster when Jefferson took out Lincoln in the semifinals.