By David Cordova
As the school year approaches and the summer ends, players and their respective teams are getting ready for the high school season. The Smartball Classic, which is the swan song to summer basketball and the prelude of what’s to come during the high school season, has been one of the marquee attractions for the last eleven years. The tournament, which is played on the Lincoln Playground in Harlem, on 135th Street and 5th Avenue, showcases many teams in the PSAL and the CHSAA, some of who are perennial powerhouses and the others who are teams that are considered sleepers.
In the championship game, perennial powerhouse and PSAL city finalist, Abraham Lincoln of Brooklyn, who was last year’s champion, went up against Curtis of Staten Island, a tough team that is underrated and has proven the last few years that they can compete with many of the city’s top teams.
Abraham Lincoln 67, Curtis 62
Early in the game, although both teams were sloppy out of the gate, the Railsplitters held down a five-point lead at the end of the first quarter, 17-12.
In the second quarter, Lincoln still had the lead, but Curtis was still gaining on them as they got on the heels of their counterparts, due to the great play of Malik Martin and Samuel Majekod At the half, the Railsplitters led 36-23.
In the second half, Curtis got back in the game, cutting their deficit to three, 46-43, with under a minute left in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, both teams battled it out, but Lincoln continued to hold down a close lead, even though Curtis continued to threaten. With over 2 minutes left in the game, Curtis’ Ransford Agyeman took over the lead with a three-pointer to give the Warriors a 60-59 lead. But Lincoln’s Kclejuan Brown-Ferguson made two clutch baskets & the Railsplitters size advantage and tough defense sealed the deal, while also repeating as Smartball Classic champions.
Lincoln’s Donald Flores led all scorers with 21 points and received the Smartball Classic MVP for the second year in a row and Curtis Gordon added 15 points for the Railsplitters. For Curtis, Majekod led with 15 points and Adelaye Oyekanne and Malik Martin led added 13 points for the Warriors.