It wiped out top-seeded Abraham Lincoln in the semifinals, but the Orange Wave finally broke last Saturday in the title game.
No. 4 Thomas Jefferson lost a 55–54 heartbreaker to No. 2 Benjamin Cardozo in the Public School Athletic League Class AA boy’s basketball city championship game at the Barclays Center.
It was Jefferson’s third-straight loss in the final, but Jefferson coach Lawrence “Bud” Pollard, was still proud of his team.
“If I look back and say to myself ‘is there anything we could have done, or the kids could have done, any better or different?’ I wouldn’t change anything,” said Pollard.
Sophomore guard Shamorie Ponds led Jefferson (21–10) with 16 points, to go along with five rebounds and two steals. Things were looking bleak for the Orange Wave at halftime, trailing the Judges 25–18. More concerning was the fact that they only scored three points in the second quarter. Momentum changed quickly after the break. Jefferson picked up its intensity to out-score Cardozo (27–2) by nine in the third frame.
“The defense stepped up. We kept attacking,” said senior guard Patrick Brown, who scored 15 points in the loss.
Things fell apart for Jefferson after taking a five-point lead over the Judges with 1:31 left to play. Cardozo senior Francisco Williams, who led all scorers with 21 points, was wide open under the basket for a backdoor dunk to cut the lead to one with 39 seconds left to play,
Then, with just 11.3 seconds left, Ponds found himself at the free throw line with the chance to extend the Orange Wave lead, but missed the front end of the one-and-one. Cardozo grabbed the rebound, and sophomore Rashond Salnave drove the length of the court into the paint. He drew a foul on a wild layup attempt with just 2.5 second left. Salnave hit both free throws, ending Jefferson’s season — and its quest for an elusive city title.
The championship was a home game of sorts for the Orange Wave, as this was the first-ever city championship game to be played at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The event attracted a raucous crowd that cheered loudly for both sides.
“This was a great atmosphere and a great game,” Pollard said. “I wish I could have been on the other side watching it instead of coaching it.”
He said the thing that hurts most about losing such a tough game was the feeling of letting people in East New York down. However, if history is any indication, Jefferson will get another chance next season.
“I know for a fact we’re going to get one in the next couple of years,” Pollard said.