Thursday, January 26, 2012

"Leave the ball, will you, George?"

Scott Howard joins the Puddles of Myself team to provide the first installment in his coverage of high school basketball in New York's five boroughs.

In a new feature to Puddles of Myself, Scott Howard will be dropping by from time to time to give us the latest news in high school basketball around the New York City area. If you are a fan of basketball it would serve you well to pay attention to these players  as you may very well be hearing more from them on a collegiate and professional level. Also, take note of the upcoming games because if you decide to go, most likely you'll find me and Scott Howard sitting in the stands, sharing a popcorn box, a secret stash of beer and rehashing some of Scott's legendary high school basketball moments.

“Leave the ball, will you, George?”
by Scott Howard

Brooklyn AA has been the powerhouse of the city public league (PSAL) for over ten years, claiming all but one city title at Madison Square Garden.  With only a few games left in the regular season, this year has seen four teams vying for the borough title, all ranked in the cities top 5.  With the playoffs soon to follow, this next week or so of games will decide the paths for Brooklyn’s finest on their way to a city crown at the Garden.

Abraham Lincoln HS (11-1, 15-2)

Wearers of the city crown 7 out of the last 10 years, the Railsplitters once again sit atop the Brooklyn standings, though their lead is not as comfortable as it has been in years past.  Sophomore sensation #15 (17 ppg, 8 rpg, 4 apg) may be one of the most athletic players in the city, and has shown an ability to be great when its matters most: tight and late.  Backed by #23 (11 ppg) and #5 (7.5 ppg, 4 apg) - who controlled the game better’n any guard I saw last season – in the backcourt and  #20 (12 ppg, 10 rpg) on the inside, expect the Railsplitters to do what they tend to do every year; go deep into the playoffs.

Their lone league loss to Thomas Jefferson earlier this month leaves the title chances for the rest of the league open, and next week should prove whether this year’s team is worthy of inclusion with those of the last ten years.  A lot of banners hang in the Lincoln gym, but not one is from this season.

Upcoming games: Hudson Catholic 1/28, South Shore on 1/31, and Boys & Girls on 2/2

Notable alumni: Harvey Keitel, Neil Diamond

Thomas Jefferson (10-2, 14-5)

Everyone knew senior guard #11 (17 ppg, 7 rpg, 4 apg) was going to be a force for the Orange Wave, but few predicted the emergence of junior guard #0 (22 ppg, 5 rpg, 3.5 apg), who currently leads all Brooklyn PSAL ‘AA’ scorers.  Two years after getting shot in the ass on a Bed-Stuy corner, #11 has refocused on basketball and is leading Thomas Jefferson to league title contention.  The roster is rounded out by sophomore guard #3 (10 ppg), junior forwards #35 (11 ppg, 8 rpg), and #13 (5 ppg, 13 rpg).  

The Orange Wave managed to split the season with Lincoln, but dropped an away contest to Boys & Girls 86-84 at the beginning of the year.  #11 is recently returned from a back injury, so next week’s rematch in East New York may have a different outcome.  First up is a showdown with St. Anthony from Jersey City, a powerhouse ranked fourth in the country.

Upcoming games: St. Anthony (NJ) 1/27, Boys & Girls 1/31

Notable Alumni: Howard Zinn, Goldman Sachs CEO/shithead cum laude Lloyd Blankenfein

Boys & Girls (12-2, 15-3)

Bedford-Stuyvesant’s Kangaroos have claimed the city crown two years running, and they probably have a better team this year.  Senior forward #1 (22 ppg, 14 rpg) is as scary as ever, and has been supported by the emergence of senior sharp-shooter #3 (8 ppg, 4 rpg, 6 apg), as well as the formidable backcourt of #5 (10 ppg, 7 apg) and #24, both seniors.  Senior forward #4 (8 ppg, 10 rpg) gives Boys & Girls some inside presence, and the team can be downright unbeatable when they can set their full court defense.

The ‘Roos were surprised by South Shore back in mid-December, and dropped their first game against Lincoln earlier this month; they have both teams in the next week, a grueling stretch that puts them against 3 of the top 5 PSAL schools in the city.

Games: South Shore 1/27, Thomas Jefferson 1/31, and Lincoln on 2/2

Notable Alumni: Isaac Asimov, Norman Mailer

South Shore (15-6, 8-3)

No one in Canarsie was surprised when South Shore topped Boys & Girls back in December; the Vikings have been closing in on the Brooklyn crown for a few years now.  Senior #24 (11 ppg, 8 rpg) is aptly backed by juniors #5 (12 ppg, 5 apg) and #12 (13 ppg, 8 rpg), and perhaps the most well named player in the entire PSAL, #3 (7.2 ppg).  

This team is young, which may work against them in upcoming games against more experienced teams.  But the Vikings have been a borough secret for a few years now, and seeing them make a run at the garden wouldn’t be too surprising.

Games: Boys & Girls 1/27, Wings Academy 1/29, and Lincoln 1/31

Notable alumni: U.G. (of the Cella Dwellas), Wayne Rosenthal

Other Notables

East New York's Transit Tech is deserving of mention as well, as they give Brooklyn 5 teams in the city's top 10.  Despite holding a 3-9 league record, they've played some fierce games (losses of 3 and 8 to South Shore, 8 and 5 to Lincoln, and 8 to TJ), and their overall record of 9-12 shows just how hard the Brooklyn division can be.  Expect them to make a bit of noise come tournament.

The rest of the PSAL features usual Bronx heavyweights Wings Academy (19-2), featuring talented senior combo guard #11, and Eagle Academy (18-2); Cardozo (13-4) and rivals Bayside (15-4) of Queens; Manhattan's Wadleigh (15-5) and Curtis (15-3) of Staten Island.

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