By Rob Abruzzese
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
BCAM avenges loss to Fanny Lou to win PSAL B division city title
Christopher Benjamin didn't have a good experience at Bishop Ford. He weighed over 350 pounds, struggled to get any playing time on the basketball team and was eventually kicked out of school. After his freshman year, he transferred to Brooklyn Community Arts and Media (BCAM) where he quit basketball to try to focus on his grades.
Benjamin was sitting in the cafeteria when BCAM basketball coach Lawanda Greene spotted the huge, 6-foot-3 sophomore. She immediately asked him to play on the high school team, but he refused. Greene was persistent though and eventually convinced Benjamin to give it another try.
"I was in the cafeteria when she first asked me if I wanted to play basketball," Benjamin recalled. "I told her 'no', but she practically dragged me into the gym. She said, 'Come to the gym after school and we're going to have a talk.' She had shorts, a t-shirt and sneakers on and made me run."
That's what Benjamin has been doing since — running. He eventually shed over 100-pounds and qualified for the team when he ran a six-minute mile.
All that hard work paid off when BCAM beat Fannie Lou Hamer 47-44 at LIU Brooklyn on Saturday to win the Public School Athletic League's (PSAL) B Division championship. Benjamin finished with 14 points and was named the MVP.
"It was a terrific decision," Benjamin said of letting Greene talk him into joining the team. "All that hard work, 6:30 in the morning just running and running and running. Even when we won we were running. It's so surreal right now."
The two teams were going back and forth early on. Fanny Lou grabbed a lead late in the first quarter and eventually extended it to a nine-point lead with 2:36 left in the first half. Benjamin hit a three with 1:40 left to start a 9-0 run that would tie the game at 22 shortly after halftime.
BCAM had a modest three-point lead in the final seconds of the third quarter when James Cooper made a desperation heave at the buzzer that miraculously went in to give the Lions a six-point lead after three. It turned out to be a huge momentum changer, leading to a 9-0 run and a 46-34 lead.
"I didn't even know that he was going to make it at first and I told him not to shoot it," Benjamin said. "He made it and it was a spark going into the fourth quarter. It was special."
The win is revenge for BCAM after it lost to Fanny Lou in double-overtime of a playoff game last season.
"That's exactly what we wanted (revenge). We wanted to beat them more than we wanted to win the championship. It was a revenge thing," said Jevonte Wilson, who finished with 14 points and 18 rebounds.
With the win, BCAM finished the season a perfect 30-0 and will head the State Federation Tournament in Albany where it will be the only team to represent Brooklyn. Every other Brooklyn team in both the PSAL and the Catholic High School Athletic Association in boy's and girl's basketball lost in their respective championships. If BCAM hadn't beaten Fanny Lou it would have been the first time in 30 years a Brooklyn team wasn't represented in the state tournament.
"When I heard that, I said, 'Wow'. That's a lot of pressure and I didn't want to be that person, especially as a female, to let Brooklyn down. It was amazing that we were able to pull it off."
The Lions will play Regis in the first round of the Federation Tournament on Saturday, March 22 at 1:30 p.m.
East Harlem Pride gets in the way of Brooklyn College Academy’s title hopes
Brooklyn College Academy lost to East Harlem Pride 49-41 in the PSAL B Division Championship at LIU Brooklyn on Saturday. The loss was the first of the season for the Lady Bobcats, who had been a perfect 21-0 headed to the championship game.
"We were undefeated so I feel like my team worked hard," Henry said. "To lose is tough, but I'm proud of my team because of the way we worked throughout the season. Some shots just weren't dropping so we were in a deficit the entire game. It's hard when you are working from behind trying to get back."
Shajuana Henry led BCA with 15 points, Shanice Cadogan had 10 points and Beatrice Wallace had nine, but it wasn't enough to overcome a strong 16-point performance from Daisha Davis and 15 points from Shawde Jones of the Pride.
"I'm proud of all of them, I love all of them," head coach Kristin Conlon said. "It was a tough way to end the year. 24-1 and my first year here we didn't make the playoffs, last year we were No. 8, this year we were No. 2 and in the championship. In three years we went from not being in the playoffs to playing in the championship. If we made some shots it's a different game."
Bedford Academy loses A title to WHEELS
In heart breaking fashion, Bedford Academy overcame a 15-point deficit only to lose to Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School (WHEELS) 57-54 on a tip-in during the closing seconds of the Public School Athletic League's A Division Championship at LIU Brooklyn on Saturday.
Bedford looked completely overmatched early in the game when WHEELS took a 17-2 lead early in the first quarter, but the Panthers never gave up and eventually tied it at 54-54 late in the fourth quarter when Darren Thomas hit a three with 40 seconds remaining.
"After I made that second big shot, I felt like we won the game," Thomas said. "But that was when we stopped paying attention to key details. We didn't box out and then they got a tip-in and it was over."
Thomas led Bedford Academy with 17 points, including three big three-pointers in the final three minutes of the game. Anthony Munson had 13 points and Latye Workman had 12. The Panthers finished the year with a 18-3 record.