The age old Brooklyn vs. Queens Rivalry was revisited at St. John's University for the PSAL quarterfinals.
Queens' Benjamin Cardozo faced Brooklyn's Thomas Jefferson in SJU's Carnesecca Arena in the first of two battle-of-the-boroughs on Sunday. A fast paced matchup, this game saw a series of lead changes throughout the first half. The second half was a different story and although Jefferson kept it close early, Dozo offense was too much and pulled away with a 68-58 win.
Cardozo would be the team to get off to the fast start, scoring 7 points in less than 2 minutes. Jefferson would respond with strong play from big man 6'9" Edson Avila. Avila had 10 points in the first quarter. Jefferson would tie the game up at 11 and trade baskets with Cardozo throughout the first. After jumping out to a 9-2 start, the Judges would find themselves trailing 22-16 after the first quarter.
'Dozo would climb back in the second quarter, starting it the same way they did the first. A 9-0 run helped the Judges regain the lead and force the Orange Wave's coach Lawrence Pollard to call for time. Fresh out the timeout, Jefferson senior Shamel Williams nailed a 3-pointer to tie the game back up at 25. Then the see-saw battle would ensue again. Jefferson would still cling on to a 3 point lead heading into the half, despite 10 first half points from Cardozo senior combo guard Shelton Mickell and sophomore forward Jermaine Lawrence.
Lawrence would play a big role in Cardozo's win Sunday. A 6'8" forward, Lawrence showed good range on his shot for a power forward; nailing a pair of 3's which included one that started a 9-0 run for Cardozo in the beginning of the 3rd. "I just had to keep on moving", responded Lawrence when asked about how he was able to free up for open looks. "I know guys don't like to guard players that are moving a lot, so I just had to keep on moving to get open." His inside-outside game proved to be a nightmare for Jefferson. He'd finish with 15, including a smooth spin move to the basket in the fourth gave Cardozo a 49-39 lead.
Jefferson had on more push left in them. After trailing as much as 15 in the fourth, the Orange Wave managed to cut the lead to 9 with a little over a minute left in the game. But a pair of free throws from senior point guard Christopher Gayot with under a minute remaining would seal the deal for Cardozo. Jefferson's senior guard Davontay Grace led all scorers with 18 points.
Much should be said for Cardozo's interior defense. While Jefferson's Avila ended up with 14 points for the game, he was held scoreless in the second, and only had 4 points in the whole second half; 2 of which came at the line. "It was our defense", proclaimed Lawrence about the key to Cardozo's victory. "Every game we stress on our defense so that we can get our offense going."
Cardozo will take on #1 ranked Abraham Lincoln High School in the semifinals City College on Wednesday, March 9th.