By John Torenli Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Only three short days after their biggest win of the season, the Brooklyn AA Division-leading Railsplitters of Lincoln High School suffered what coach Dwayne “Tiny” Morton referred to as “the worst loss” he’s ever had.
That’s saying something for a Public School Athletic League coaching icon with seven city championships and a pair of state championships during his tenure at the Ocean Parkway school.
In fact, it’s hard to fathom that Tuesday’s stunning 82-77 home loss to Jefferson was worse than the 62-55 defeat the Railsplitters endured in last year’s PSAL title game to arch rival Boys and Girls at Madison Square Garden.
“We’re not tough enough,” Morton insisted after watching his team get out-hustled, out-muscled and out-rebounded throughout its first league loss of the campaign.
At 10-1 in AA play, the ‘Splitters (15-3 overall) still maintain a one-game lead over second-place Jefferson (9-2 Brooklyn AA) and Boys and Girls (9-2) in the city’s toughest division.
The loss to the Orange Wave could have been blamed on a letdown following Saturday’s statement-making 74-64 triumph over the two-time defending champion Kangaroos, but that would only take credit from Jefferson, which has won four in a row since a tough 86-84 loss at B&G on Jan. 3.
Junior guard Jaquan Lynch scored 21 points, senior backcourt mate Thadeus Hall added 17 points and junior forward Kareem Johnakin dominated the interior with 15 points and 17 rebounds for the Wave, who will visit East New York-Transit Tech (3-8) this afternoon.
Morton, who even went as far as to accuse sophomore star Isiaiah Whitehead of playing “soft” against Jefferson, is doubtlessly trying to keep his team from buying into its lofty ranking among schools in the five boroughs and beyond.
Lincoln will host Grady (2-9) today before visiting South Shore (7-3) on Jan. 31. Those two contests will serve as appetizers for the main dish, a Feb. 2 rematch at B&G on Feb. 2 that will likely decide the top seed in next month’s Brooklyn Borough Championships and the PSAL playoffs.
The Kangaroos, who were stunned by South Shore in mid-December, rebounded from Saturday’s painful loss at Lincoln by burying Grady, 88-33, on Tuesday behind 23 points from senior forward Leroy Fludd.
They’ll visit South Shore today and visit Jefferson on the 31st before their season-ending showdown with the ’Splitters.
Between now and then, Lincoln will have to rediscover the toughness that made it the clear team to beat prior to Tuesday’s loss to Jefferson. And Morton will be there to remind them every step of the way.
Though they’re only 3-5 through eight games, including five consecutive losses, the Brooklyn Friends girls’ varsity basketball team is making some serious progress during what coach David Gardella termed a “rebuilding year.”
The Blue Pride, which went 14-6 a season ago en route to the playoffs, consists of a group of up-and-coming underclassmen and a super junior in Janna Joassainte, who is averaging just under 19 points per game this year.
Gardella lost five seniors to graduation, but knows he’s on the verge of something big with this budding class.
“It has been one of the most interesting seasons in my seven years coaching girls’ varsity basketball here, and my 17 years coaching high school basketball here,” noted Gardella, who is also the Pearl Street school’s long-time athletic director.
“All eight games have been extremely close, hard-fought battles and if one or two more things happened to go our way there is no reason we could [not] be 8-0. We are ahead of schedule with the rebuilding process, but we are lacking the experience and senior leadership when it comes to closing out games and dealing with our opponents’ late-game mini-surge.”
Though BFS is “leaning” on Joassainte for scoring, she’s getting plenty of help of late from sophomore Julia Greenwald, who has also become an offensive threat, though mainly from the outside.
“As their teammates gain experience, the future will look brighter and brighter,” insisted Gardella. “We look forward to continuing to build and grow as a team. The future is bright.”
BFS will try to snap its losing streak today when it hosts Elizabeth Irwin in Independent School Athletic League action.
In other local sports news, the (soon-to-be-Brooklyn) Nets announced this week that the final phase of their All-Access season ticket campaign for Downtown’s Barclays Center has officially begun, and the team is once again featuring perennial All-Star point guard Deron Williams as the centerpiece of its ad campaigns.
If you’ll remember, the Nets plastered billboards of Williams all over Brooklyn last year in the hopes of generating fan interest, but the owner-imposed NBA lockout forced the franchise to pull back those ads as players couldn’t be used for promotion during the elongated labor battle.
Williams, a free-agent-to-be this summer, is back on the hardwood for the Nets after a brief stint with Besiktas, a professional team in Istanbul, though the team was struggling with a 3-11 record entering last night’s game against visiting Golden State.
The organization knows Williams will be it’s biggest star and attraction come November 2012, when the team is scheduled to play its first game as the Brooklyn Nets. But he could also be a key cog in luring Orlando Magic superstar center Dwight Howard to Atlantic Avenue either in a trade-deadline deal next month or this coming offseason.
Regardless of what the not-too-distant future holds, the Nets revealed that they have already sold out several premium All-Access locations in their state-of-the-art arena, and are looking to attract more season-ticket holders.
Williams’ image will likely be seen on several hundred taxi tops as well as billboards, kiosks in Brooklyn and Manhattan, and via direct mail advertising.
“Opening night for the Nets in Brooklyn is less than 10 months away, and the excitement is resonating at an all-time high throughout the marketplace,” Nets CEO Brett Yormark said.
“Our All-Access season tickets are selling even faster than we expected due in large part to the unique benefits and value offering. We are excited to celebrate our superstar Deron in the new campaign as we prepare for the team’s move to one of the most anticipated sports and entertainment venues in the world.”
On the Brooklyn college hoops scene Tuesday, the women of NYU-Poly suffered their second straight 1-point loss with a 50-49 setback to Farmingdale.
Junior Shelby Bruns scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and senior Margaux Pickell added 14 points and 12 boards for the Lady Jays, who slipped to 6-7 overall and 2-3 in the Skyline Conference.
NYU-Poly will be at Mount Saint Mary for its next Skyline game tonight at 6 p.m.
The NYU-Poly men fell to 0-12 overall and 0-7 in Skyline action with Tuesday’s 91-60 loss at Farmingdale.
Freshman Evan Azzam scored a team-high 23 points and Brooklyn natives Brendon Henry and Jethro Auguste added 10 apiece for the struggling Jays.
The men will also visit Mount Saint Mary tonight at 8 p.m.
LIU-Brooklyn senior Jazmin Waller was named Northeast Conference Track and Field Athlete of the Week Tuesday for her record-breaking performance at last weekend’s NYC Gotham Cup, marking the second consecutive week a Blackbird has received the honor.
Waller took the top spot in the long jump at the Gotham Cup, leaping to a mark of 6.11 meters, a new school record. The mark puts the Atco, N.J., native atop the NEC performance list for the season, just ahead of teammate and former Athlete of the Week Jessie Gaines, qualifying Waller for a spot at the ECAC Championships in March.
The LIU track and field teams are back in action on Friday for the Great Dane Classic at the Armory in Manhattan.
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Brooklyn native Sandrae Farquharson of Medgar Evers College Prep won the high school division’s 200-meter and 400-meter dashes during Saturday’s final preliminary heat at the Colgate Women’s Games, hosted by Pratt Institute.
Farquharson established season-best times in both events, taking the 200m in 24.8 seconds while winning the 400m at 56.3.
The preliminaries featured some of the East Coast’s best athletic talent, as competitors of all ages continued to set the national pace with fast times, and excellent performances.