Emonni Cropper had just put the Brooklyn Collegiate girls basketball team ahead three points with 14 seconds left. Then she hung around the baseline stealthily, picked off the inbounds pass and was fouled going to the basket. The sophomore guard’s two free throws all but sealed victory against Benjamin Banneker.
It was a game-changing sequence, one that another Cropper %u2013 Emonni’s older sister, Alicia %u2013 could have made. The elder Cropper, Thomas Jefferson’s Providence-bound senior guard, was a few feet away going crazy when Emonni made those plays.
“I like to see her doing things like that,” said Alicia, who was waiting for her team’s game against Bishop Kearney last Wednesday at the Big Apple Recruiting Christmas Classic at Bishop Ford.
The two aren’t super close, they share different interests and have separate groups of friends. But they do share one common link: basketball. Alicia is the highest rated senior in New York City and Emonni is a budding star herself.
“She’s something special,” Brooklyn Collegiate assistant coach Dytanya Mixson said. “She has a bright future.”
Emonni is a well-built 5-foot-6 with strength and power that belies her grade level. She’s averaging 26.7 points and 9.7 rebounds per game for Brooklyn Collegiate in PSAL Brooklyn B1 East play and had 34 points against Banneker. Like her sister, she’s dynamic going to the basket and, once around the hoop, her finishing is almost automatic.
“I like that she goes up strong,” Alicia said with a smile. “She does a lot of things that I don’t expect of her.”
The two were teammates last year at Jefferson, but Emonni struggled with academic eligibility. She says she left the East New York school for Brooklyn Collegiate for “personal reasons” and Alicia said she needed to find a place that would match her best academically. It seems like she has found that now.
“They help you do a good job in school,” Emonni said of people at her new school.
And the basketball team, though it plays in the ‘B’ league, isn’t too bad either. Brooklyn Collegiate’s win against Banneker, a mid-level ‘AA’ team, was a big one and it came just two days after a solid performance against ‘AA’ power Manhattan Center. Those games showed that the upstart squad is a legitimate Class B title contender despite just a 3-2 league record. Emonni was out for the team’s loss against Bushwick and its other defeat came against first-place Transit Tech.
“I think we’re going to go deep, deep, deep into the ‘B’ playoffs,” Mixson said. “Our goal is the state championships, not even the city.”
The younger Cropper has help, too. Stephanie Portis, a speedy, 5-foot-4 guard, is averaging 23.6 points per game. She’s another player who could very easily be in the ‘AA.’
“She can really shoot the rock,” Mixson said.
Ironically, Brooklyn Collegiate is a lot like Jefferson. The Orange Wave were always a Class B team before then-coach Calvin Young guided them to the ‘B’ championship in 2005-06 and the ‘A’ title one season later when Cropper was a freshman. Now, Jefferson has been to two straight ‘AA’ semifinals.
Mixson has designs on a similar turnaround. Brooklyn Collegiate has the advantage of its own middle school, giving the team a built-in feeder system. He said he and head coach Juan Franco are going to be petitioning the PSAL for a move up next season, regardless of what Brooklyn Collegiate does in the playoffs.
“We’re gonna try to go to the ‘A’ next year and ‘AA’ the following year,” he said.
The team will have at least one avid spectator, the one yelling when Emonni made those big plays against Banneker.
“I was excited,” Alicia said with a smile. “That’s my little sister.”
She’s on her way to becoming even more than that.