By John Torenli
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
With the Brooklyn Borough Championships and Public School Athletic League playoffs looming, first-place Lincoln and defending two-time city champion Boys and Girls are hardly rolling into their much-anticipated regular-season finale on Fulton Street this evening.
The Railsplitters (12-1 Brooklyn AA) received a pair of not-so-private tongue lashings from coach Dwayne “Tiny” Morton over the past few weeks, the last coming in the wake of Saturday’s defeat to non-league rival Hudson Catholic in the Newark National Invitational at the Prudential Center.
Morton, who has captured seven PSAL crowns and three state titles during his prolific run on the Lincoln bench, cited his team’s lack of leadership and his players’ selfish need for individual acknowledgment, playing time and glory as the main reasons for recent poor performances.
After a stunning 82-77 home setback to Jefferson on Jan. 17, Morton said it was the “worst loss” he’d ever endured and questioned his team’s toughness for the stretch run.
Even Tuesday’s 49-43 victory at South Shore (8-5 Brooklyn AA) was marred by an off-the-court skirmish between Vikings and ’Splitters fans which forced an early halt to the contest.
The PSAL had not yet decided whether to complete the suspended game or award the win to Morton’s team as of yesterday morning.
Either way, Lincoln does hold its destiny in its own hands for clinching the division as well as grabbing the top overall seed in the playoffs, if, of course, it can get past Ruth Lovelace’s Kangaroos (10-3) today.
By completing a season sweep of B&G, which it beat 74-64 on Ocean Parkway last month, the ’Splitters would remain at least one game in front of hard-charging Jefferson (11-2) for the ultra-competitive division’s top spot.
The ’Roos would have loved a shot at forging a first-place tie with a home win over Lincoln, but that possibility was gone the second the buzzer went off on B&G’s 95-92 overtime loss to the Orange Wave on Tuesday.
“Give them credit for coming back,” Lovelace lamented after watching her squad squander a 16-point second-half lead.
Perhaps lost in the B&G-Lincoln rivalry is Jefferson’s emergence as the most dangerous team in Brooklyn, and perhaps the entire city.
Thad Hall scored 30 points, pulled down 11 boards and played brilliant defense against ’Roos star Leroy Fludd on Tuesday, giving the Wave a shot at a share of the division crown today if they beat last-place Westinghouse and Boys takes out Lincoln.
Regardless of the outcome, however, the upcoming playoffs will be the ultimate factor in determining which one of these three teams — if any of them — will hoist the league’s championship trophy at Madison Square Garden and represent the city at the state championships in Glens Falls, N.Y., next month.
Lincoln sophomore Isaiah Whitehead, who had 18 points before Tuesday’s game was called, will be on the spot to provide the type of leadership and results Morton became accustomed to getting from star players like Sebastian Telfair and Lance Stephenson during the previous decade.
Fludd, a key performer in last year’s city title game victory over Lincoln at MSG, will also have to play his best basketball of the season if the ’Roos want to complete a three-peat in March.
In other important results from Tuesday, Robeson wrapped up a PSAL playoff berth with a 46-32 victory over Brooklyn AA rival Grady as Denzel Wilson scored 17 points.
Transit Tech edged Westinghouse, 37-33, also clinching one of the coveted postseason spots as one of the top six teams in the Brooklyn AA standings.
In Tuesday’s key Catholic School matchups, St. Edmund’s Prep knocked off Monsignor McClancy, 80-73, in Brooklyn behind 22 points from Nick Grasso. Also, Mike Williams poured in 17 points as Bishop Loughlin halted a three-game skid with a 76-62 win against St. Francis Prep.
Brian Bernardi had 20 points but Xaverian dropped a 72-60 decision to Cardinal Hayes.
On the private school scene, Ian Miller, Richie Palacios and Shane Pearley had 10 points apiece as Park Slope’s Berkeley Carroll School beat Brooklyn Friends, 56-31. The Lions, 7-2 in the Athletic Conference of Independent Schools, are scheduled to visit Joralemon Street to take on Packer Collegiate this afternoon.
Friends will meet neighborhood rival St. Ann’s this evening.
The girls’ team at BFS (4-8) beat non-league rival Winston Prep on Tuesday as sophomore sensation Janna Jossainte scored 15 points, topping 200 points for the season.
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On the gridiron, Erasmus Hall quarterback Wayne Morgan, one of the most heavily recruited players in the tri-state area, signed a National Letter of Intent yesterday to Syracuse University.
Projected as a cornerback for the Orange, Morgan led Erasmus to the brink of a city championship at Yankee Stadium in December, only to watch his desperate heave into the end zone as time expired broken up by Lincoln’s Kareem Folkes.
Morgan, ranked 11th nationally among safeties and fourth overall in New York, recorded 45 tackles, a sack, an interception, two fumble recoveries and scored a pair of defensive touchdowns when he wasn’t throwing and running for touchdowns out of the Erasmus backfield.
Head coach Danny Landberg’s signal-caller will join Brooklyn’s Brandon Reddish, who committed to play for the Orange in 2010 after lifting Fort Hamilton to its third city championship in six seasons against Lincoln.
Folkes, who was reportedly being courted by several local schools, including Stony Brook, had not signed as of yesterday afternoon.