Brooklyn Collegiate and guard Willie Barnes turned a wild back-and-forth game filled with long scoring runs into a decisive rout last Saturday.
The Lions used a 30-point fourth quarter to secure a 94–78 home victory over Thomas Jefferson in Brooklyn Class AA boy’s basketball. Barnes, who was inconsistent early, scored nine of his game-high 22 points in the final frame.
“The biggest difference was Willie Barnes finally started hitting shots he wasn’t hitting early on the game,” said Lions coach Jacob Edwards.
The victory moves Brooklyn Collegiate (6–3, 5–1) into second place in the division, but it will have to go the rest of the way without star wing Jahlil Tripp.
The junior, who was playing his first game since being hit in the right calf with a stray bullet in early December, slipped taking a layup during warm ups and broke his left tibia in two places.
“It’s really sad to see him not play,” said Lions junior Craig McKenzie. “His first game back and he can’t even get on the court. It hurts.”
Barnes allowed his team to leave on a happier note. His teammates moved the ball crisply and finally got him open looks in the flow of the offense. He converted a three-point play and hit consecutive treys to help Brooklyn Collegiate take a 78–68 lead, the largest by any team up until that point, with 5:00 remaining in the game.
“I realized I had to wake up,” Barnes said. “Everyone was telling me to wake up. I woke up and I was making shots. They got me the ball.”
His long-range shooting allowed Brooklyn Collegiate to spread the floor. It opened up the paint for drives from big man Davere Creighton (13 points) and point guard Cheyenne Nettleton (12 points). Jefferson had no answers on both ends of the floor.
Brooklyn Collegiate lightened up its pressure defense and used a zone to make the Orange Wave (7–4, 4–1) have to execute in the half court. Sophomore Shamorie Ponds paced Jefferson with 21 points, including five three-pointers, and star Daqauise Andrews, who was under the weather, added 13 points. The Orange Wave led 47–43 at the half.
Brooklyn Collegiate’s game-changing surge started in the third quarter. It went on a 6–0 run to close the frame behind Craig McKenzie (16 points) to take a 64–59 lead into the fourth. Jefferson failed to respond after doing so for much of the game.
“We played three quarters,” said Orange Wave coach Lawrence “Bud” Pollard. “In the fourth quarter we just game up. We didn’t have enough fight in us. They had a lot of fight. They took the game over.”
Brooklyn Collegiate felt its experience was the reason it was able to put the game away.
“Some of our players have been in the situation before,” McKenzie said. “A lot of them know what to do.”