Bronx High School PSAL Basketball Playoffs
Playing with the Big Boys
Whenever a team wins a Class B title, the players get commended for their hard work and the coach receives congratulations for a job well done. But there was always a caveat -- always something behind the praise. It was a question. Can they do it with the big boys? Can they be successful on the Class A level?
A few years ago Roosevelt did it, winning the Bronx A division title one year after winning the PSAL Class B championship. Now 2 more Bronx teams are out to prove they belong. Wings Academy and Monroe high schools both moving up to Class A this season after playing in an all-Bronx PSAL Class B title game last year. The early returns are in, and both look to be forces to be reckoned with this season.
Monroe shocked many people by winning the NYC Class B title last year. They were a team with no seniors, and finished 3rd in the Bronx B division. But once the playoffs started they were a new team under head coach Nigel Thompson. They avenged a pair of losses to Addams in the semi-finals, then beat defending champion Wings Academy in the finals - getting a tip-in from freshman Michael Glover (yes, Anthony's brother) in the final seconds.
This year they're in Class A -- in the Bronx West A division -- but moving up a class hasn't fazed the Eagles at all. If anything, last years playoff run has given the Eagles a sense of success and confidence. They opened the season by defeating Kennedy after trailing at halftime -- not an easy thing to do against a Johnny Mathis coached team. Wins over Walton and Clinton followed, and then they got 28 points from junior Darian David to defeat Truman in come-from-behind fashion to take over sole possession of first place in the division. They're a perfect 4-0, and with games against Taft and Bronx Science coming up (combined 1-6), the Eagles have a great shot at finishing the 1st half of the season undefeated.
Wings Academy hasn't been quite as successful -- 3-1 and in 2nd place in the Bronx East A division -- but it's been a much tougher road. The Class B champions 2 years ago, the Wings dealt with the departure of head coach Lance Tejada, winning the Bronx B division last season and making it back to the championship game under 1st year head coach Tony Bergeron.
After the loss to Monroe, a heartbreaker, they were told they would be moving up to Class A this season, despite the fact they were losing both Garfield Johns and Elton Barry, their two top players. But Bergeron and the Wings didn't complain. They just went out and worked hard. Led by sophomore Rasheem Jenkins, the Wings won their first 3 games, blowing out Roosevelt and Gompers and slipping past Smith by 2. They lost to Columbus 87-81, but not before cutting a 16-point deficit to 1. Did they show fear? No, they did not! They, and Monroe, have proven the best in Class B can compete and win in Class A. They belong!