By Rob Abruzzese
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
It was a rough weekend for Brooklyn high school basketball as all four teams vying for city titles — Bishop Loughlin boys, Nazareth girls, Jefferson boys and South Shore girls — all lost in their respective championship games.
All four teams had reason to believe that they would win, too. Loughlin had beaten Christ the King easily in the Brooklyn-Queens final; Jefferson defeated Lincoln, a team that most assumed would not only win the city title, but the state championship as well; Nazareth was coming off a semifinals game where its best player scored 50 points; and South Shore didn’t have to face the 15-time city champions in Bergtraum.
Second quarter drought causes Jefferson to lose city championship
This was Jefferson High School's third trip to the Public School Athletic League (PSAL) finals in as many 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, losing 55-54 to Cardozo High School at the Barclays Center on Saturday.
"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 (VIDEO). "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."
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.”
South Shore comes up short against Francis Lewis
This was the South Shore Vikings fourth trip to the PSAL AA finals in seven years, but it was also the first time that they would be playing a team other than Murry Bergtraum. In other words, this was their big chance with the 15-time defending champion out of the way.
Unfortunately, it might have been a different team, but it was a similar result as Anwar Gladden's squad lost to Francis Lewis 65-58 at the Barclays Center on Saturday.
"(Francis Lewis) was ready to play today," Gladden said. "When it comes to situations like this, it's about who plays the best within those 32 minutes. Francis Lewis was a good team all year. Let's not forget that. We didn't play a bad team today. We played a very good team and they played well today."
Francis Lewis certainly did play extremely well, but it seemed as if South Shore beat itself. The Vikings dominated the glass, but weren't able to convert those boards into second-chance points. The imposing 6-foot-3 junior Brianna Fraser was effective with 26 points and 15 rebounds, but there were stretches of time where it seemed like they weren't doing enough to get her involved.
Afterward, Gladden said that he felt like his team even played well against pressure defense well this year, but he didn't see it from his girls on Saturday after committing 19 turnovers.
"We've lost before," Gladden said. "To me, you're judged on how you come back. We've come back before and we're going to keep coming back. One day things will work out. We don't feel like we lost today. We got to play in the Barclays Center as a high school coach with these young ladies. The Barclays Center is amazing. It was tough, but we didn't lose."
Loughlin loses city championship to Christ the King
It seemed like this year was finally going to be the year that Bishop Loughlin overcame Christ the King. After losing to the Royals seven times in a row entering this season, the Lions snapped that streak with a home victory and then Khadeen Carrington dropped 42 points on them in a dominant win during the Brooklyn-Queens finals.
However, the two teams went back to their familiar roles when Christ the King beat Loughlin 72-61 to win the Catholic High School Athletic Association's (CHSAA) city championship at Fordham University on Sunday.
"It hurts," said a teary eyed Ed Gonzalez (VIDEO). "It hurts every single one of us. It's a painful way to go. Some teams have to win and some have to lose, but to go this way, a little bit of a closer game would have been better. They didn't play well in their last game of their high school career. It was tough to go out this way."
Loughlin never got into a groove during this game. It kept up with Christ the King until the end, but shot just 14.3 percent from behind the arc, was out-rebounded 43-29 and got to the line just 14 times compared to Christ the King's 31 trips.
"Shots we usually hit we weren't hitting today," Carrington said. "We shot terribly from the three and that's our bread and butter. That's the game right there."
Carrington hit a big three to tie the game at 55 with 6:03 left, but Loughlin was never able to wrestle the momentum from Christ the King. When Carrington missed another three attempt with about 2:45 left, Christ the King's Rawle Alkins came down court and hit a trey. That gave the Royals a four point lead that was too much to overcome as they finished on an 8-0 run.
"We've been with each other the last four years, (Carrington) accomplished a lot," Gonzalez said. "The only thing missing from his resume was a city championship. We came close twice together and I really thought this was going to be the one. It's tough."
Not enough left in the tank as Nazareth loses to St. Anthony’s
Coming off a game where Nazareth dominated Moore Catholic behind a 50-point performance from its star Bianca Cuevas, it looked like it was going to be hard for any team to stop the Kingsmen in the CHSAA state finals.
It turned out that the opposite was true. Cuevas was so burnt out from Friday night’s game that she couldn’t come up with the strength for a follow up performance as Nazareth lost to St. Anthony’s 60-47 at Holy Trinity High School on Saturday.
Cuevas finished with just 14 points in that game and afterward she explained how she knew she wasn't going to have much left in the tank for a follow up performance.