By David Cordova
This season in the PSAL Queens “AA” Division, there has been a change in power in teams of dominance. For many years, Cardozo was the most dominant team year and and year out as they reigned supreme in the borough. But this year, there has been more parity in the league, and one of the teams that has stood out has been John Bowne.
After dominating the “A” division the past few years, the Wildcats were bumped up to the “AA” Division this year and made a strong statement in their new surroundings, with a 12-4 record in the regular season, but also around the city, with a 23-6 record overall. As a result, they went all the way to the Queens Borough Final on February 18th at Queens College, where they would win by three, 66-63, over borough rival Queens High School of Teaching.
Now comes the city playoffs, in which it’s do or die. Win or go home. In yesterday’s second-round playoff game both the Wildcats and the Paul Robeson Eagles played a tough game for mainly three quarters, but when the final quarter came up, only one team would execute their strategy to the finish.
John Bowne 70, Robeson 57
The beginning of the game was a battle between both sides, as the lead switched sides early a couple of times, before sophomore Alejandro Vasquez hit a three-pointer with over four minutes to go in the first quarter to give Bowne a 9-5 lead. Then Robeson turned the tide, with consecutive baskets from juniors Aquarn Butler and Taiquan Benjamin and senior Keith Swinton, which brought them ahead, 16-10, with 40 seconds to go.
The second quarter started with the Eagles leading by six, 24-18, but then the Wildcats struck back with consecutive three-pointers from Vasquez & senior Roderick Fennell, which brought them to a three-point lead, 27-24, with four minutes to go in the first half. The game remained competitive on both sides of the court, but Swinton’s hot shooting from three-poTint range for the Eagles kept the game close. Robeson would go into halftime, leading by two, 38-36.
Bowne came out strong in the third quarter and would eventually take a nine-point lead, 47-38, with 3:59 to go. They stepped up their play by taking the open shots and going to the basket proficiently, which was something they struggled with in the first half. But the good play would not last long, as Robeson would threaten the lead, by cutting the deficit to two, 47-45, with less than two minutes to go.
In the fourth quarter, it was still a competition, as both squads stayed close, but senior Christian Hinckson helped give the Wildcats some great inside play, as well as helped give them the lead with a three-point play, with 4:54 left, which resulted in the Wildcats being ahead, 56-51. Then moments later, after a putback by Kareem Reid, they would end up leading by twelve, 62-51, with 3:41 to go in the game.
Robeson’s play in the first half was stymied in the second half, as the home team would correct their mistakes and execute their running game. The end result would be the Wildcats, capturing the victory and moving on the PSAL quarterfinals.
Hinckson led led Bowne with 22 points, while Vasquez added 20 points of his own. For Robeson, Swinton led with 29 points and junior Rikjard Jean-Baptiste added 11 points in the loss.