By John Torenli
Let’s call this one, “The Reign Men vs. The New Wave.”
Two-time defending city champion Boys and Girls will shoot for an historic three-peat at high noon Saturday as the Kangaroos take on Brooklyn rival Thomas Jefferson, in search of its first title since 1954, in what should be a PSAL AA title game for the ages at Madison Square Garden.
Whether it’s the brash, some might say boastful, chatter of Orange Wave senior Thad Hall or the steely resolve and quiet determination of Kangaroos coach Ruth Lovelace, the MSG matinee promises to provide plenty of drama.
Winners of 13 in a row since an 86-84 defeat at B&G on Jan. 3, the Wave is the newcomer to the Garden Party, having conquered every obstacle, including the Kangaroos twice, during their late-season run to the Brooklyn AA and Brooklyn Borough Championships.
Hall has clearly been the driving force behind coach Lawrence Pollard’s team’s ascension toward the throne, scoring 22 points, including the final four in last Saturday’s come-from-behind 72-68 semifinal win over No. 8 Wings Academy at St. John’s.
The 6-foot-5 swingman extraordinaire, who was recently offered a scholarship by the Red Storm, averaged just over 17 points and six rebounds per game during the regular season. Playoff time has seen an even more ferocious Hall dominate virtually every contest as he has put up a shade below 29 points per game, including a postseason-best 39 in a first-round victory over Robeson.
“He’s taken his game to another level,” Pollard said of Hall.
“I wasn’t going to let us lose,” Hall insisted after erasing a one-point deficit in the final half-minute against Wings.
The ’Roos, who lost the BBC title game to Jefferson, albeit due in some part to a phantom 3-pointer the Wave should never have been rewarded, hasn’t lost a game since, reeling off three straight playoff wins, including last Saturday’s 72-63 triumph over arch-rival Lincoln in Jamaica, N.Y.
Going to the Garden for the fifth time in the last six years, Boys can make it three championships in a row and earn a measure of revenge for a loss Lovelace has stewed over for the past month.
Senior Leroy Fludd had 20 points and 12 boards and fast-emerging junior guard Wesley Myers scored 21 points against the Railsplitters, who saw their chances to return to MSG for the second straight year dashed when sophomore guard Isaiah Whitehead (13 points) struggled with foul trouble.
“It’s a great feeling [to be back at the Garden],” noted Lovelace.
* * *
The junior varsity girls’ team at Bishop Kearney won their league championship with a 38-35 victory over St. Edmund’s over the weekend, capping a sensational campaign and pointing to a bright future for the varsity squad.
“Although the team is not large, they more than make up for it in dedicated and enthusiastic play,” noted Kearney media relations director Donald Tremblay. “Freshmen on the team worked very well together and played a huge roll in the win.
Head coach Nick Crimeni and assistants Taylor Raccuglia and Norah Marley looked on proudly as Kyla Tacopina was presented with the Marie Sisti Sportsmanship Award. Also, Crimeni was named Junior Varsity Coach of the Year.
* * *
Clio Markman, an 11th-grade basketball-player-turned-hoops-philanthropist, helped raise nearly $30,000 for the Brooklyn Youth Sports Club (BKYSC) last Saturday during a Basketball Shootout at Manhattan’s Trevor Day School.
Markman, a third-year starter on Trevor Day’s varsity team, organized the shootout to raise money for the club’s educational initiative “Beyond Basketball.”
The program helps inner-city Brooklyn student-athletes with individual tutoring and SAT/ACT preparation, organizes study halls and offers college guidance.
A dozen participants, consisting of high school and middle school students, competed to score as many baskets as possible within a two-minute time span. Each had solicited donations per basket, which translated into $29,122.70.
The money will go directly to the Beyond Basketball program, serving under-privileged student-athletes.
“The event exposed this great organization to over 100 new donors, who contributed anywhere from $0.10 to $50 per basket,” said Markman. “The Brooklyn Youth Sports Club’s first-ever Basketball Shootout exceeded even my loftiest expectations. The generosity of all the donors and the determination of all the shooters really blew me away.
“The Beyond Basketball program is vital to the community, and I can’t think of a better way to show my passion for basketball, Brooklyn and giving back than to put together this inaugural event to help an organization that helps so many,” Markman added.
Lyle Friess, executive director and founder of BKYSC said, “The kids did all the work here. That’s the impressive part. Clio not only organized an event that raised a significant amount of money for our organization but he was able to bridge the gap between two vastly different communities in our city.”