Jaquan Lynch was set to come off the bench for Thomas Jefferson’s varsity until he missed a series of preseason workouts. As punishment, coaches Lawrence Pollard and Seldon Jefferson sent him down to the JV.
Lynch ended up leading the JV to the city championship, scoring 21 points in the host Orange Wave’s 84-56 win over Cardozo Tuesday, March 23, the first-ever city-wide title game in PSAL history.
“We started him in the doghouse and he worked his way out,” said Jefferson, the JV head coach. “This is his start.”
Lynch, a talented 6-foot combo guard, averaged 14.5 points per game during the regular season, numbers that increased to 19 per during the playoffs. He had 10 points in the first half as Jefferson built a commanding 52-19 lead by halftime. The Judges, led by 6-foot-8 freshman Jermaine Lawrence (19 Points), reeled off a 20-0 run to get within 56-36, but Lynch answered with a dagger of a 3-pointer from the left wing and 6-foot-4 freshman forward Jermoine Faison (19 points) scored six straight points to stunt Cardozo’s momentum.
“It feels good, first time it ever happened,” Faison said of the inaugural JV crown. “We’re gonna go down in history.”
Julileon Boney and Raymel Wicker each added 11 points for Jefferson (20-0) while Josh Lee had 11 for Cardozo (17-1).
Jefferson said while Lynch could’ve made an impact off the bench for varsity, his experience as a go-to scorer and leader on JV was invaluable. When he hit the proverbial wall from playing and practicing on a daily basis, as most freshmen do, he was able to work through his problems. On varsity, he would’ve sat on the bench.
“I’m happy to win a title, but I’m ready for next year,” Lynch said. “This got me motivated for varsity.”
Pollard and Jefferson said they could envision Lynch breaking into the starting lineup at point guard, moving St. John’s recruit Davontay Grace over to shooting guard. Lynch has impressed the two from the get-go, with his talent as much as his poise. He hardly complained when he was sent down to JV.
“He has a good demeanor,” Jefferson said. “He doesn’t celebrate, never gets too high or too low.”
Lynch was at the Jefferson varsity’s late game of the year, a shocking 60-53 loss to Transit Tech in the PSAL Class A quarterfinals at St. John’s University. Many around the program thought this would be the year, without that one heavy favorite, the Orange Wave could win their first city title since 1954.
“I said to myself if I was on that court we wouldn’t have lost,” Lynch recalled.
He went on to say he would go hard after a starting spot and do his best to repeat his freshman year on a much larger stage.
“Jefferson’s gonna get a varsity championship,” he boldly predicted.