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April 18, 2013

Wheelchair Classic Championship: First & Last Place





JAMAICA, N.Y. - In the final day of the Wheelchair Classic, a charity high school basketball event, as part of Wheelchair Charities, Inc., comprising players from Brooklyn, Bronx, Manhattan and Queens, the boys' championship winner, runner-up and third-place consolation holder were determined.

The two boys' games - championship and consolation - took place in the gymnasium of CUNY York College, located on Liberty Avenue between Guy R. Brewer Boulevard and 160th St. in Queens, N.Y., on Wednesday.

The third-place consolation game, the first matchup on the schedule, featured student-athletes from Manhattan playing against those of Queens. Meanwhile, the marquee matchup of the evening was the championship matchup between Brooklyn and Bronx (also consisting of players from Westchester County).

Playing for a worthy cause, and with borough bragging rights on the line, there was no shortage of athleticism or energy when opponents in both games took to the hardwood.

Let's take a look at the championship and consolation game.


CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: Brooklyn Squeaks Past Bronx, 85-82

The matchup between Brooklyn and the Bronx began with a very slow pace. While the Bronx attempted to break the floor open for more fastbreak opportunities, Brooklyn stifled its opponent into playing more halfcourt sets. This did not help the Bronx team, as its speedy guards like to get up and go.

As a result, in a strong showing by Brooklyn, marked by the bruting strength of Mike Vigilance (Abraham Lincoln H.S. (N.Y.) '13), the team led 15-8 in the opening minutes of the first quarter. Bronx' Larry Beckett (Satellite Academy (N.Y.) '13) sank 2-of-2 from the free throw line, cutting the deficit to five points.

Bronx' Mustafa Jones (Cardinal Hayes (N.Y.) '14) followed up Beckett's performance at the free throw line with a drive baseline for a strong dunk at the rack. That would be a spark for Jones that would carry him throughout the matchup. While Brooklyn was dropping buckets to stay ahead, Jones scored the Bronx' next four points to tie the matchup at 17 with 2:20 left in the first period.

By the second quarter, Brooklyn inflicted heavy defense on the Bronx players. Bronx' point guard ]Josh Doughty (Mount Vernon H.S. (N.Y.) '13) was able to seamlessly move within gaps to assist teammates, hitting them off with some smooth, quick passes in great scoring positions. However, the solid passes rarely became solid plays because Bronx players struggled to finish at the rim.

Brooklyn increased its advantage to seven points, 29-22, after two 3-pointers from Courtney Darnley (Boys & Girls H.S. (N.Y.) '13) and a basket by Isaiah Whitehead (Abraham Lincoln H.S. (N.Y.) '14). That lead was extended to as much as nine points, twice, in the period - the last time being when the score was 37-28 on a basket at the rack by Fred Ruffin (South Shore (N.Y.) '13).

Bronx' Abdel Peguero (Satellite Academy (N.Y.) '13) netted back-to-back baskets, and the Bronx added another two points, to cut the Brooklyn lead to only one point, 37-36, but Brooklyn's David Tait (South Shore (N.Y.) '13) off a feed from teammate Kadeem Riddac (Erasmus Hall (N.Y.) '13) put Brooklyn up by three, 39-36. With 1:33 left before the break, Riddac would tack on a 3-pointer that audibly cut through the net to give Brooklyn a six-point advantage, 42-36.

Brooklyn led 45-38 at halftime.

As every ticking second was used to capitalize on each other, Peguero wasted no time before he helped his team come within four, 45-41. Still, Brooklyn's Vigilance and Ruffin lifted the squad to an eight-point lead, 49-41. Later, by the 5:29 mark of the tertiary period, Whitehead drained another basket elevating Brooklyn to a nine-point advantage, 51-42.

While Beckett got the ball rolling again, it was teammate Jones that kept scoring at will. Brooklyn found no way to contain him as he tied the contest at 51 and, ultimately, scored the basket to take the lead for the Bronx, 53-52, with 1:50 left in the period.

The Bronx earned a four-point lead, 59-55, on a bucket by Chris Robinson (Cardinal Hayes H.S. (N.Y.) '14). Although Brooklyn's Trevonn Morton (Abraham Lincoln H.S. (N.Y.) '13) would respond with a sharp 3-pointer, the Bronx still led by one, 59-58.

In the fourth period, Brooklyn's Rachard Moody (Thomas Jefferson (N.Y.) '13) and company wasted no time fighting for the advantage, 61-59. However, Bronx' lengthy Bashir Ahmed (John F. Kennedy (N.Y.) '13), who oftentimes uses his long arms to score over opponents with relative ease, knotted the contest at 61. A 3-pointer by teammate Robinson gave the Bronx a six-point lead, 67-61.

Another trey by Morton would cut Brooklyn's deficit to one point, 67-66, with 5:41 left in the fourth period. After another basket by Jones, Whitehead completed a conventional three-point play to tie the matchup at 69. A bucket by Brooklyn's Doudmy Saint Hilaire (South Shore (N.Y.) '14) briefly resulted in an advantage for his squad, 71-69, but Jones would counterpunch.

Through the ensuing ties and lead changes, a 3-pointer by Whitehead to knot the matchup at 79 would mark the end of Bronx' advantages for good. Brooklyn took as much as a three-point lead, 83-80, before a cleanup by Beckett brought the Bronx within one point, 83-82, with 7.5 seconds left in the game.

Saint Hilaire went 2-of-2 with 6.1 seconds remaining to bring the Brooklyn margin back to three points. Bronx had the opportunity to respond, but Doughty, in what appeared to be a deviation from the game plan, chucked a 3-pointer from nearly halfcourt as time expired after the ball flew high and missed the mark.

Brooklyn's Whitehead posted a team-high 17 points, while Vigilance added 10 points, eight of which were in the first half. Tait and Morton each finished with nine points apiece, while teammates Saint Hilaire, Ruffin and Darnley each recorded eight points. Bronx' Beckett finished with a game-high 20 points, while Jones added 17 points. Peguero had 11 points, while Robinson posted nine points.


CONSOLATION GAME: Manhattan Outclasses Queens, 67-55

Manhattan took an early lead in the first quarter, starting the game 6-0 and, ultimately, leading 18-16, by the close of the period. Although Manhattan would lead by four points, twice, in the second phase, Queens' Jordan Washington (Pathways College Prep (N.Y.) '13) used a free throw and a basket to draw within one point, 24-23, with 3:16 left before halftime.

Queens took the lead for the first time at the 2:19 mark of the second quarter on a bucket by Jordan Fuchs (Christ the King H.S. (N.Y.) '13) off a feed from Washington. With some more points made by Washington at the stripe, Queens held a six-point advantage, 30-24, with 1:31 left in the period.

By the break, Washington was responsible for nearly half of his team's first-half point production, recording 12 of his game-high 24 points in the stanza. Queens led 30-28 at halftime.

In the third period, Manhattan's Tristan Rosa (Thurgood Marshall Academy (N.Y.) '14) tied the matchup at 30, going 2-of-2 from the charity stripe. Manhattan would regain the lead when Manny Suarez (Marist H.S. (N.J.) '13) sank 1-of-2 from the line to put his team up by one point.

A strong rebound by Queens' Danny Janel (Benjamin Cardozo H.S. (N.Y.) '13) prevented Manhattan from extending that lead any further. Later, at the 4:33 mark, teammate Chaz Watler (Archbishop Molloy H.S. (N.Y.) '13) drew the foul off Suarez while attacking the rim in transition. The play resulted in Queens leading by a deuce, 33-31.

Within the next two minutes, Queens and Manhattan would trade baskets and leads. However, when Queens took a 41-39 advantage with 23.5 seconds remaining in the period, Manhattan was unable to force its way to a lead change. Instead, Manhattan's Jason Perry Murray (Believe Prep (S.C.) '13) chipped away at the deficit, bringing the margin between the squads to one point, 41-40.


Still, Washington - the unstoppable machine that he is - scored another basket. Manhattan's Nathaneal Williams (Manhattan H.S. (N.Y.) '13) cashed in on a bucket before time elapsed, but it was not enough to tie the matchup before the close of the quarter. The play resulted in a one-point deficit for Manhattan, 43-42.

In the fourth and final phase, Manhattan planned to win the final battle and the war. Manhattan's 5-foot-9 Shammgod Wells (Believe Prep (S.C.) '13) was just the man for the task of redirecting the ship. Wells netted Manhattan's first five points within the first minute of the quarter, including a 3-pointer, to lift his team by four points, 47-43. That lead was extended to 10 points, 53-43, at the 5:16 mark of the period on a trey by Matthew Crockett (Xavier H.S. (N.Y.) '13).

The 3-pointer by Crockett would mark the capping of an 11-0 run in the first three minutes of the fourth phase. Queens' Washington threw down a dunk with 4:20 left in the game to stop the bleeding. Teammate Watler followed up Washington's slam with a floater down the middle lane to cut their deficit to six points, 53-47.

However, Manhattan's Wells was not done. He drained another 3-pointer and completed a conventional three-point play to put his squad ahead by as much as 12 points, 59-47, with 2:21 left on the game clock.

A bucket by Washington and a 2-of-2 performance at the free throw line by Travis Flagg (Benjamin Cardozo H.S. (N.Y.) '13), only cut Queens' deficit to eight points, 59-51, by the 1:38 mark of the period. Though the Queens team would come as close as five points, 61-55, with about 47.7 seconds left in the matchup, it could not get the stops it needed to make its offensive production effective in lowering Manhattan's advantage.

Manhattan's Williams finished with a team-high 16 points, while Wells, who proved to be a clutch player, coming up big for his team in the fourth quarter, added 12 points. Teammate Tom Rivera (Paterson Eastside (N.J.) '13) had eight points in the win. Queens' Chaz Watler added nine points in the loss.












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