2003-2004 PSAL High School Basketball Preview
The PSAL high school basketball season has once again washed up on the shores of New York City. This season, the high school spotlight will once again fall on Lincoln High School’s Sebastian Telfair, as he leads the Railsplitters in a quest to repeat as city champions in his senior year.
But the majority of this article is to spotlight the local teams. The talk from all teams have been of playoff aspirations and it might be possible that the men and women’s programs of Far Rockaway and Beach Channel may make a splash on the city scene.
Beach Channel Retools
The Beach Channel Dolphins are in the process of retooling and not rebuilding according to head coach Jim Malone. It might have been called a rebuilding process with the departures of four seniors, which included All-city player Rhashon Clark, along with point guard Victor Alvarez and forwards John and Joseph Thomas. The Dolphins were eliminated in the second round against Gompers.
Though they may not reach their 22-3 record from last season, returning players like Arthur Robertson, Michael Pledger, Dwayne Messam, and along with some fresh faces, could lead the Dolphins back to the playoffs.
During a scrimmage against New Dorp, coach, Malone was constantly instructing and will have to do a lot of that this year as he mixes a younger bench and seasoned veterans.
Robertson will be one of the Dolphins that will be prominently featured in the offense. The senior averaged 12 points a game last season, second only to Clark but averaged a team high 7 rebounds a game. Robertson. Malone won’t give him any additional pressure to carry the team.
"We never burden him. He’s very patient. He gets his nose inside", says Malone. "We expect him to rebound and score 15-20 points a game".
Assistant coach Morris Johnson said that Robertson’s game improved in the offseason and his demeanor on the court. "He played in tournaments in Las Vegas and Los Angeles and he wasn’t nervous.
One issue may be the lack of size in the middle but Malone looks to Mike Pledger to help out. "Mike Pledger is doing a great job on the boards for a guy 6’3". With Beach Channel winning their first league game against Richmond Hill 66-34 last Monday, coach Malone is optimistic about this team’s chances. "I like to finish .500 if we could but you never know. My job is here to teach and teach".
New Coach at Far Rock
The new men’s basketball coach at Far Rockaway is Anthony Miele, who coached the junior varsity team for seven years. Miele says he is ready for the opportunity to help the Seahorses win. "It’s a big step up for me", says Miele. "It’s a learning experience for myself. We have a good group of kids and hard working kids here".
The Seahorses, who finished 20-5 and was eliminated by Transit Tech in the first round, will be looking to replace the scoring of Richard Forbes. Forbes led the PSAL in scoring with 30 points a game and was the main weapon in the offense.
One player that Miele is raving about is Derrick Gabriel, who transferred from St. John’s Prep. Gabriel will lead the offense in the point guard role and in the three non-league games he has played, Gabriel has shown flashes that he can become an outstanding player according to Miele.
"He brings everything that a coach would want. He passes, he shoots, has the skill to be able to run the floor and has a discipline on the floor", says Miele. Gabriel has led the team in scoring but his passing ability with 12 assists in a win against Tilden shows that he wants to get his teammates involved in the offense.
"The head coach at Robeson asked me where this guy is from?" said Miele after a non-league game against Robeson. "People are going to be shocked how well this guy is going to be".
Miele likes the work ethic on his team. To win games, the team will push the ball up and down and use their athletic ability and their outside shooting to score points. If the team is lulled into a midcourt game, they may be some problems. "There is no doubt in mind we will be a good team. I’d be disappointed if we didn’t make a .500 record", Miele says.
Lady Dolphins Are Ready
The team is a seasoned group with playoff experience. The Dolphins have made the playoffs the last two seasons but was eliminated in the second round. The loss to Bayside last year has given an extra motivation to the team. This year’s team feels they can go even farther in this year’s playoffs.
Coach Victor Nazario feels that his team is as good any other in the city. "These kids have worked together. They know how to handle things".
Nazario would love his team to win and have home court advantage for the first two-playoff games. "Both of our losses in the second round have been on the road", says Nazario. "We need to work hard and keep our concentration for us to win this year".
The Queens I-B champions return six seniors and Nazario will lean on them to lead the team. Center Kareem Palmer will be counted for leadership, scoring and rebounding as she led the team with 21 points and 16 rebounds a game. Nazario would like Palmer to score more of her points inside the basket.
Senior point guard Chaquit Ivory is an effective ballhandler who will be asked to score more to take advantage of her outside shooting ability. Gina Giles can score 10-12 points a game and Charlene Greene is tenacious inside the basket with her rebounding and her defense according to Nazario.
What has bounced them from the playoffs is their lack of concentration "Defensively, we’re a good team but when we get sloppy, we turnover the ball. We have to cut the turnovers and have to rebound".
Nazario and the team both agree that they have the talent to win this year. "If we are not in the quarterfinals or semifinals, I would be upset. We have to play one game at a time and play hard. I spoke to the kids and they share my assessment. The Second round nonsense has got to stop", says Nazario.
Lady Seahorses Want Playoff Berth
Far Rockaway head coach Les Sabbah is optimistic about this young and talented team. After going 4-12 last year in Queens, the 2003 version is 2-0 after a 46-34 win against Thomas Edison last Tuesday. It is a balanced team with three or four possible scorers. Shamar Stewartson, Christie Rosas, Savona McGhie and Patrice McKenzie averaged in double figures for both wins. "We have a lot of kids who can the score ball and cause a lot of problems for other teams", says Sabbah. McGhie. Stewartson is playing her first season in the backcourt and Sabbah describes her as a little dynamo who can push the ball and score.
Sabbah knows his team will be improved. "We have kids who have played organized ball before and we can be competitive if things fall in place".