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Brooklyn Collegiate deserves respect

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It’s time to give the Brooklyn Collegiate girls basketball team the respect it has earned.

The Lions, which has but one senior suiting up, is 16–1 and in first place in the division. The Brownsville school’s only loss was to the league’s top team, South Shore, in November.

Along the way the team has picked up wins over three-time defending Nassau County champion Baldwin, last year’s city runner up McKee-Staten Tech, Harry S. Truman, and Francis Lewis, which has gone to consecutive semifinals. Yet, this impressive resume has flown under the radar, and the coach is wondering why.

“Beating Francis Lewis should have said a lot,” Juan Franco said.

Maybe his girls aren’t getting the recognition they deserve because Collegiate is still seen by many as the team that went 4–11 during its first season in the Class AA league last year.

So what’s different?

The team is more experienced and added star talent in Bishop Loughlin transfer Chelsea Gibson. She recently signed with Division-I Coppin State. The sweet-shooting senior guard is averaging 18.3 points. She fit in well with a core of juniors with two years of varsity experience under their belts.

“The addition of Chelsea Gibson was the perfect match,” Franco said.

Gibson can dominate games, but Brooklyn Collegiate is more about balance.

Hadiyah Black has been the team’s leading rebounder and Tajzhane Dopson can score, rebound, and get others involved. Akiele Lewis is back after missing time with a knee injury and Courtney Fleming can provide additional scoring. Briani Wallace had a 37-point game in a win over Benjamin Banneker.

“We get a little help from everyday,” Franco said.

All of what it accomplished and a possible high playoff seed could evaporate if Brooklyn Collegiate if doesn’t finish strong. It plays 14-time defending champion Murry Bergtraum on Feb. 4.

“That would be the one were everybody could say this team is for real,” Franco said of competing with Bergtraum.

Either way, it won’t change the players’ mindset that they have been overlooked and under appreciated.

“They still have that chip on their shoulder,” Franco said. “They have to prove we are not a fluke.”

They have made a convincing argument so far.

Ups and downs

Former Transit Tech star and Canarsie resident Richard Williams is committing to play men’s basketball at Hofstra. The 6-foot-5 wing, who is currently doing post-graduate year at Vermont Academy chose the Pride over Kent State and St. Bonaventure.

“I believe in what they have to offer,” Williams said. “I feel like this is a great opportunity to play right away and that was huge for me.”

Bishop Loughlin guard and University of Albany-commit Imani Tate scored her 1,000th career point while tallying 38 points a win over Nazareth last week.

Joseph Staszewski has been covering high school and college sports in Brooklyn for four years. E-mail him at jstaszewski@cnglocal.com. Follow him on twitter @cng_staszewski.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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