Playing right with a nationally recognized team for four quarters might have earned the Bishop Ford players a pizza party in previous years. But things are different in Park Slope now. Expectations are heightened. That’s what happens when you beat Christ the King and St. Michael Academy in the same season.
So after Bishop Ford fell to H.D. Woodson (D.C.), 54-43, last Saturday night at the John F. Kennedy Challenge at InTech Academy, all the Falcons got from coach Mike Toro was a loud talking to.
“It’s selfish kids,” Toro said after his diatribe. “Certain individuals feel they can do it themselves. … When one person creates that selfishness, that cancer, it spreads throughout the team.”
Ford (15-3) led throughout the first half against Woodson (10-5), but Falcons let down after the break. Their defense, which has been their hallmark, wasn’t as intense. Their offense sputtered in the halfcourt.
“We weren’t passing the ball,” sophomore guard Shanice Vaughan said. “We were trying to dribble the ball through the press.”
Granted, Woodson has incredible guards. Senior Ronika Ransford (17 points), who is headed to Georgia, is one of the very best in the country. But Toro said he would put his guards up against any teams’. That wasn’t an excuse.
“I think we had the guards that can match up and go at them,” the first-year coach said.
Ford got within five twice and within four, 43-39, on an Anjali Moncrieffe (11 points) driving layup with 2:25 left in the game, but Jephany Brown (16 points) had four straight points to extend the Woodson lead. Seemingly every time Woodson had an answer. Ransford had a pair of long jumpers, including a 3, to halt Falcons runs in the third quarter.
“Every time we looked to go on a run, we took a play off,” Toro said. “In big games like this and in the playoffs, one possession off can kill you.”
Toro was beside himself afterward. It was clear he really wanted that one, another victory that could have vaulted Bishop Ford into the national consciousness. It doesn’t help that people have called the Falcons’ win against Christ the King a fluke and their victory against St. Michael Academy earlier in the week an aberration with the sentiment that SMA coach Apache Paschall, Toro’s mentor, threw the game.
“No disrespect to any team in New York City or, better yet, the country, but we feel like we’re just as good as any team in the city or the country,” Toro said. … “I’m gonna carry that chip on my shoulder. We deserve to be nationally recognized. That’s why we want the competition.”
And how about the naysayers taking their two huge wins lightly? Toro isn’t taking too kindly to it.
“If they think that was a fluke, wait for the playoffs,” Toro said. “Everybody said Apache took it easy on us, because he’s my boy, he wanted me to feel good, all the rumors that they took a dive? We’re not friends until the season is over. If beating Christ the King was a fluke, wait until the Brooklyn/Queens championship. If beating St. Mike’s was a fluke, wait until the [CHSAA state] playoffs.”