MSG Spotlights City Talent At PSAL Championship
The PSAL ‘A" High School Championship at Madison Square Garden last Sunday was a great opportunity for the public to see the best basketball players and teams shine. For the Lincoln Railsplitters and Murry Bergtraum, not only were they the best in the end but they also made history.
Sebastian Telfair, regarded as the best player in the city, held off Banneker’s Gary Forbes, the second best player, in a 75-69 Lincoln win. The junior point guard Telfair scored 33 points and was named game MVP to lead Lincoln to back-to-back championships. The last team to win 2 in a row was Stevenson back in 1988 and 1989.
"Being the leader, it’s in me and in my family to help lead them. I tell them to put the ball in my hand. They gave me the strength," said Telfair, who is the cousin of former Lincoln and current NBA star Stephon Marbury.
At the end of a close game, Banneker was down 71-68 and trying to inbound the ball when Shawn Towns stepped on the line while trying to handle the inbounds pass. Lincoln converted their last 10 points by going to the free throw line to end the game.
"Down the stretch, the Lincoln defense adjusted to me. I was pressing my shots," said Forbes, who will attend the University of Virginia in the fall. "The ball didn’t go our way."
The buzz from the 10,978 at the Garden was the one-on-one matchup between Forbes and Telfair., who scored 30 points, defended Telfair after the first quarter. Both scored time and time again with moves to the basket and excellent shooting that got the crowd on its feet.
Saunders may not have been worried about placing Forbes on Telfair. But the plan may have backfired, as Forbes seemed to get winded in trying to score and defend. "Forbes is taller than me but I know I could get by him," said Telfair. "I don’t think it was a good decision by the coach."
There is unfinished business for Lincoln in the New York State championships and Telfair wants to win those games badly. "We’ve got to win upstate to prove that we’re the best."
Bergtraum Destroys Curtis
This may be old habit for Murry Bergtraum head coach Ed Grezinsky in winning his 5th consecutive PSAL girls’ championship by defeating Curtis 72-39. They are a city and a national powerhouse who have won tournaments across the country. But Grezinsky wants his players to receive the personal accolades that have not been recognized nationally.
"We deserved to have players in the top 100 in the country. I think it’s an absolute disgrace," said Grezinsky after the game. "We deserve to have kids in the top tournament after most of these players were part of winning 5 consecutive city championships."
Carmen Guzman, the senior point guard, echoed her coach’s sentiment from the players’ side. "We’re a little mad that we have no one in the Mc Donald’s Top 100 and All-American teams. "And who can blame Grezinsky and Guzman after Bergtraum blew out Curtis with a 24-7 run in the third quarter, after only leading 27-20 in the first half. The 29-0 Bergtraum continued their unprecedented and dominant run through the PSAL A Division.
The Lady Blazers was led by game MVP Kisha Stokes, who scored 19 points and 13 rebounds, with 9 boards coming on the offensive boards. It was a team effort on the boards as the Blazers outrebounded Curtis 48-29. Once Bergtraum committed to scoring inside, Curtis was done. Bergtraum, ranked third in the nation, is looking forward to playing upstate and if they win, a finals berth against Christ the King could happen. The #4 ranked Royals placed had three players in the top 100. Grezinsky though is taking it one game at a time. "We’re going upstate and we won’t lack confidence."
Clark, Forbes Shine At Garden
The Garden also had a Rockaway presence to it with Richard Forbes of Far Rockaway and Rhashon Clark of Beach Channel. Rhashon Clark won the halftime slam-dunk championship by defeating 4 high school opponents. Clark jumped from the foul line, caught a bounce pass from the middle of the foul circle from fellow teammate Victor Alvarez and slammed the ball. The crowd roared with their appreciation of the dunk as Clark won the competition easily. Richard Forbes was honored by the PSAL for placing first in points scored. The senior guard averaged 30 points a game.