Bayside remains unbeaten with win over Springfield

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Bayside boys’ basketball coach Joe Capuana realizes his team has a bull’s-eye on its back. Each team the Commodores face from here on in will use every play in its arsenal to end Bayside’s perfect season.

That predicament has kept the team inspired throughout each contest.

“I think that’s motivation itself,” Capuana said about continuing Bayside’s undefeated streak. “They have to continue to keep that [motivation] at this stage.”

The Commodores had no problem staying motivated Saturday afternoon. Bayside improved its record to 16-0, defeating Springfield Gardens, 70-52, in the final game of the fourth annual Jonathan Levin Classic at Taft High School in the Bronx.

The Commodores used an early second quarter burst to extinguish any hopes of a Springfield Gardens upset. C.J. Okogeri’s layup with 5:28 left in the second quarter closed out a 10-0 run to start the second quarter that gave Bayside a 28-15 lead. The 6-foot senior guard closed out the half with a pair of free throws to put the Commodores up 36-24.

Lance Hazel, the game’s MVP, did everything he could possibly do to ensure Bayside’s victory. The 5-foot-11 senior guard finished the game with a complete stat line: 17 points, 13 rebounds, 7 steals, 6 assists and 3 blocks. Hazel’s performance was a look into Bayside’s mentality entering each game.

“Every team is coming to get you so you have to come back with it,” he said.

Despite Springfield Gardens’ smaller lineup, the Golden Eagles did an adequate job of keeping Bayside’s offense out of sync in the first quarter. Springfield (7-10) trailed by three, 18-15, at the start of the second quarter.

“We were very sloppy with the ball,” Capuana said about the first quarter. “The half court sets were terrible but we improved as the game went on.”

Most of those improvements were due largely to the deadly senior guard combination of Hazel and Okogeri. The two continually found a way to drive to the basket with their quickness, especially Okogeri (25 points, 7 rebounds).

“We don’t have too much height, so we have to try and beat them with quickness,” Okogeri said, who was also 9-of-10 from the free throw line.

“It begins with their talent,” Capuana said. “Lance is maybe the quickest player around and C.J. is just an excellent scorer.”

Springfield Gardens made a valiant effort to keep the score close, but in the end the Golden Eagles’ inexperience reared its ugly head again.

The closest Springfield Gardens would get was when Pernell Hutchinson converted one of two free throws with 3:15 remaining in the third quarter to cut the lead to 41-31.

At that point Okogeri scored the next five points with a 15-foot jumper, a layup and free throw. The free throw gave Bayside a 46-34 lead to begin the fourth quarter.

“We don’t think at times and it’s been killing us all season,” Golden Eagles coach Mike Aiken said. “I have no complaints. We played tough, hard basketball the whole game, but unfortunately we make too many mental mistakes.”

One player who wasn’t making any of those mistakes was Adrian Uter. He muscled his way to 17 points and a game-high 15 rebounds.

“I think he’s one of the best big men in Queens,” Aiken said. “The reason why we won seven games this season is because of him.”

The Jonathan Levin Classic is named after a Taft High School English teacher who died in May 1997. Levin was found dead in his Upper West Side apartment, murdered by one of his students. His father, Gerald, recently stepped down as chairman of AOL Time Warner.

Newtown 75, John Bowne 56. Andre Cole and Steven Duran each scored 19 points as Newtown (15-2) defeated Bowne (6-11) in the second game of the Jonathan Levin Classic.

Miguel Maria (14 points) scored the Pioneers’ first eight points as they jumped out to a 21-7 first quarter lead. John Bowne’s Darren Rease scored 16 points off the bench, including four three-point goals.

Host Taft beat Jane Addams, 85-77, in the first game of the Jonathan Levin Classic.

Long Island City 70, Forest Hills 64. Michael Laboy had 20 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists and Javier Vasquez had added 17 points and 17 rebounds for LIC (6-13, 4-6 Queens I-A). Forest Hills is 10-9, 6-4 in Queens I-A.

Flushing 57, Lane 51. Mario Nunez had 13 points and 17 rebounds and Phil Murphy and Sahil Kapoor each scored 12 points for the Red Devils (6-11, 3-6 Queens I-A).

Van Buren 49, Campus Magnet 47. For the second time this year against Campus Magnet, Jermone Burnett scored the game-winning layup, this time with 22 seconds left. Burnett scored 18 points and grabbed eight rebounds for Van Buren (5-11, 2-6 Queens III-A).

Cardozo 74, Francis Lewis 56. Cameron Tyler had 23 points and five assists and Skyler Khaleel added 16 points and 19 boards for the Judges (12-4, 10-1 Queens II-A).

Bryant 104, Aviation 88. Diego Aguiar netted 31 points and grabbed 17 rebounds, Brandon Williams had 24 points and 13 boards and Fleans Dervishi and Munir Nouriddine each chipped in 22 points for Bryant (17-4, 9-2 Queens I-A).

Jamaica 54, Hillcrest 52. William Brown’s putback with two seconds left sealed the win for Jamaica (12-9, 8-3 Queens II-A). Teddy Thelemaque added 10 points for the Beavers.

Forest Hills 67, Van Buren 57. Junior Fuller and Chris Chin each had 19 points and seven assists for the Rangers while Melvin Jackson led Van Buren with 20 points in the non-leaguer.

Queens Vocational 63, Aviation 61. Vincent Calderon had 27 points and Matthew Bermudez hit a key fourth-quarter three-pointer to lead Queens Vocational (5-5) in a non-league game.

Springfield Gardens 69, Richmond Hill 39. Leonard Walker netted 19 points and Pernell Hutchinson added 11 for the Golden Eagles in a non-league game.

— Dylan Butler contributed to this story

Reach contributing writer William Hernandez by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 130.

Updated 10:26 am, October 12, 2011
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