Photo courtesy of Jeffrey A. Photography.
By David Cordova
Over the last decade, the borough of Brooklyn has dominated in the PSAL. When it comes time for the playoffs, you can always expect one of the teams from that borough to be in the semifinals. Two of these teams from the Brooklyn “AA” division, Abraham Lincoln of Coney Island and Thomas Jefferson of East New York have been teams that have made appearances in the playoffs over the last few years.
Just four years ago, the Railsplitters beat the Orange Wave, 65-52, in the PSAL championship game at Madison Square Garden, with a team that featured Seton Hall junior forward Desi Rodriguez and Brooklyn Nets star guard Isaiah Whitehead. The tide turned last season, as both teams met up again in the same venue and for the same mission, the PSAL championship. The 2015-16 Orange Wave squad, led by St. John’s freshman Shamorie Ponds and St. Francis College freshman Rasheem Dunn, would go on to beat their rivals by a large margin, 90-61.
This season would be different on both sides, as Lincoln would emerge victorious in both regular-season meetings and in the PSAL Brooklyn Borough semifinals on February 16th, winning by five, 59-54. Today’s game would be more of a lopsided margin, as one team would go on to dominate the game from beginning to end.
Abraham Lincoln 82, Thomas Jefferson 64
In the beginning of the game, Jefferson put out a strong start, buoyed by the play of senior Jordan Armstrong, as they would run off to an 8-2 lead, with more than three minutes to go in the first quarter. But then Lincoln countered with six consecutive points to take a three-point lead, 11-8, with more than two minutes to go.
At the start of the second quarter, after leading 11-10, the Railsplitters would come out energized with a three-point play by senior Kclejuan Brown-Ferguson, a layup by Donald Flores and a three-pointer by junior Jasiah Lewis as they would get to a nine-point lead, 19-10, with 7:28 to go. The Orange Wave struggled to make shots at that critical juncture and also turned the ball over a lot, which resulted in the Railsplitters running off to a 17-point lead, 27-10, with 4:55 to go. Lincoln’s strong play would bring them to a comfortable lead at halftime, 36-17.
Jefferson would come out more inspired in the third quarter, as they would cut the deficit to fifteen, 41-26, with more than five minutes to go after a three-point play by senior Kyle Harding. But the Railsplitters would continue to exercise their pressure defense throughout the second half, and raise their lead to twenty-four, 64-40, with 6:15 to go in the game. The Orange Wave would pose no threat to the competition and the Railsplitters would go on to win their first PSAL championship since 2013.
Brown-Ferguson led Lincoln with 22 points and 10 rebounds, junior Curtis Gordon would add 21 points and nine rebounds and Reid and Lewis added 13 points. For Jefferson, Harding led with 17 points and freshman Marcus Burnett would finish with 12 points in the loss.