Rutgers bound senior Mike Taylor made his long awaited playoff return for Boys & Girls High School, but it was Malik Nichols who stole the show, as they beat Wings Academy Wednesday night 53-48 to move on to the PSAL AA championship game.
Nichols, the Hofstra bound senior, played the game of his life when his team needed help, scoring 14 of his game high 22 points in the second half, against a hungry Wings Academy, who as their coach said gets no respect because of playing in the Bronx.
While the Kangaroos lead most of the game, it was Wings' senior Deonte Houston who helped lead the second half charge they were looking for, as he scored seven straight of his 13 points at the start of the third. Kangaroos senior Antione Slaughter tried to answer back with a score, but was rejected by Wings' senior Amby Fall. Things were looking as though they were going to fall for Wings, until Jeff Neverson hit two quick shots for the Kangaroos to knot the game at 32 in the third quarter. Wings later, regained the lead heading into the fourth quarter, but little did they know Nichols was going to take over.
If he was not scoring, Nichols was grabbing rebounds defensively, keeping his team close. Taylor, who did not start the game at his discretion because he said he did not want to mess with the team's chemistry, made keys shots, including a three to give the edge the Kangaroos a 48-40 lead that Wings would not be able to gain back. Houston, who at the start of the second half came out scoring, was held to no points in the final minutes of the game. Though his running mate, Fall (11 points), tried to bring the team back, Houston missed a three pointer to tie the game that help secured the defending PSAL AA champions a trip back to Madison Square Garden, where they hope to win back to back titles.
"I said from the beginning of the year how special he is," said Kangaroos coach Ruth Lovelace about Nichols. "He's the best all-around player."