By David Cordova
This year has been a changing of the guard in New York City basketball. Many teams have come & gone, but one school managed to stand alone in contrast to the rest. That team ended up being none other than Wings Academy of The Bronx.
The Wings team has endured a storybook season, remaining undefeated in the PSAL Bronx “AA” division, winning the Bronx Borough Championship, the PSAL City Championship and the New York State Federation title all in successive fashion.
They had a great schedule, playing teams such as Roman Catholic (PA) and also dethroning local powerhouses such as Thomas Jefferson, Cardozo, Cardinal Hayes and Christ the King.
They now stand with a 32-2 overall record and have been recently ranked nationally by two publications (No. 15 in the country by USA Today and No. 24 in the country by MaxPreps). They have been led all season by two Division I-bound seniors, 6-11 senior forward Jessie Govan, who is headed to Georgetown and 6-1 senior point guard Desure Buie, who is headed to Hofstra. Both of these players were X-factors and provided great leadership for a team that many did not even consider being in the PSAL Finals this season.
Govan is a big man that has imposing size, can rebound and is a classic big man in every sense of the word. He also has a knack for being clutch at the biggest moments, including during the PSAL semi-finals against Thomas Jefferson, when he went 14-for-14 from the line & in the championship game against the then-defending champion Cardozo, when he hit crucial free throws in the final minute to give the Bronx school their first city championship on the “AA” level.
Buie was the offensive sparkplug on many nights, but also transcended his game to greater heights by growing into a more well-rounded point guard, averaging 8 assists per game in addition to the 17.1 points he scored during the regular season.
However, they had a great supporting cast, which included senior guard Randy Corporan, the heart & soul of the team who was a defensive threat in many games. There was also senior guard Efrain DeJesus, who was a great shooter, sophomore Boubacar Kamissoko, a true point guard, and junior guard Kevin Saylor, who was a lights-out scorer at certain points during the season. Also in the front-court was sophomore forward Jose Perez and junior forward Jamar Brown, both players that were the perfect complement to Govan.
Now that the Wings crew has conquered the state of New York, there is one more test that they have to conquer. They will be playing in the Dick’s Sporting Goods National High School Tournament on April 2nd against perennial national powerhouse, Oak Hill Academy of Virginia.
Here’s our Q&A with their head coach, Billy Turnage:
How does it feel to have finally reached the promised land and to have won the Bronx Borough Championship, the PSAL Championship & the NYS Federation Championship all in one year?
This has been a dream season. Everything we achieved this year is everything we marked down at the beginning of the season.
What was the game plan from Day 1 of the season?
To work as hard as we possibly could so we would be prepared for a championship run come playoff time.
How much confidence did the team have in knowing that they would win both the city & state championship?
We never once spoke about the state until we actually won the city. However, our focus every year is preparing to make ourselves a run at the city title. My confidence grew as the season progressed. Watching how hard these guys worked in practice and games everyday did that.
How do you feel about playing the Dick’s Sporting Goods National High School Tournament?
It’s an honor. 98% of my players will never have the opportunity to play live on ESPN. It helps elevate the profile of the program as well as my players.
How do you feel going up against a team like Oak Hill?
We are excited. You don’t get much more legendary than Oak Hill & their coach, Steve Smith. He’s coach for many pros & many All-Americans. So for us, a regular New York City public school to get that shot is incredible.
Where do you see the program going in the future?
We see the program continuing as it has. We just know now that we have to work a lot harder to try & duplicate this success anytime soon.