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Jamaica shuts down Bowne’s Hall

The Jamaica boys’ basketball team traveled back through time Friday afternoon. While it never left the confines of the Jamaica High School gym, the Beavers used a defense it had not used in quite some time.

The reason for the old-school approach on defense was simple: contain John Bowne’s Richard Hall. The 6-foot-1 senior guard entered the contest averaging an astounding 29.7 points per game. Jamaica coach DeWitt Thomson realized it would take a special effort from his team to stop a special player.

Jamaica’s (13-9, 9-3 Queens A-II) constant double-team defense on Hall limited the senior to 15 points, as the Beavers pounded Bowne, 66-43, to secure a playoff spot.

“I felt if we could dismantle [Hall] long enough, then we would be able to stretch out to a comfortable lead,” Thomson said.

Thomson had not used the defense since facing Kevin Morris (Georgia Tech University) of Martin Luther King High School in 1996.

It took the Beavers two days to learn a defense that Thomson basically called “junk.”

While Jamaica’s defense did its part to shackle Hall, neither he nor the Wildcats (7-12, 5-7 Queens A-II) were playing at 100 percent.

Hall was suffering from a swollen right thumb on his shooting hand and reaggravated a hip injury during a fall in the game. Bowne coach John Tsapelas was also missing his two guard, Anthony Gutierrez, due to an injury.

“If I had my two guard, he would usually go to the basket strong off the double team,” Tsapelas said. “He would have given them a hard time.”

Instead it was Bowne who was having a hard time adjusting to Jamaica’s surprise.

Trailing by four, 31-27, with 4:18 remaining in the third quarter, Bowne had a chance to cut the lead to two, but that’s when Jamaica’s junk defense kicked in again.

Every time Hall received the ball in the high post, two Jamaica players immediately ran to him and trapped him with nowhere to go. With no other options, Bowne committed turnovers that allowed Jamaica to extend its fragile four-point lead. Yves Keslin’s three-pointer with 2:18 remaining in the third quarter gave the Beavers a 38-27 lead. Bowne would never recover from Jamaica’s quick execution on offense.

“We really felt we had to get this game in the win column,” Thomson said. “They’re (Bowne) really lurking behind us.”

A win by Bowne would have evened its division record to 6-6 with two games remaining. If Jamaica would have lost its final two and Bowne won its final two, the Beavers might have found themselves missing the playoffs

It looked as though that might have been the case after the first quarter, but the situation turned ugly on Bowne quickly.

The Wildcats offense went cold in the second quarter after coming back to tie Jamaica at 14 in the first. The Beavers used the first four minutes of the second quarter to build a 25-14 lead.

Jamaica senior William Brown (17 points, 15 rebounds) scored five points during that stretch of the second quarter that ultimately led to a 29-21 halftime lead.

The win could not have come at a better time for a team trying to make a statement before the playoffs.

“I’m happy the kids are starting to gel,” Thomson said. “It’s been a long, tough road, but these kids just kept believing in themselves and right now we’re on a real even keel.”

While Brown was his usual steady self for Jamaica, sophomore Brandon Lawley is starting to make his presence felt on the team. While he only finished with six points, his presence in the post was a key factor to Jamaica’s win.

“He can become one of the best players in the city if he works on his game,” Thomson said.

Cardozo 78, MLK 57. Cameron Tyler had 25 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds and Skyler Khaleel added 16 points and 13 boards for Cardozo (14-5) in the third annual Goat Tournament. Ali Kibwe led MLK (8-10) with 20 points.

Grover Cleveland 64, Robert F. Wagner 58. Joe Szucs had eight points and 13 rebounds and Joe Rodriguez added nine points and six assists for Cleveland (7-9) in a non-league game.

Newtown 69, Aviation 50. Steve Duran scored a game-high 18 points and Andre Cole added 17 points and 10 rebounds for Newtown (18-2, 12-0 Queens I-A), which clinched at least a tie for the division crown. Pete Caris led Aviation with 17 points.

Bryant 79, Forest Hills 59. Diego Aguiar had 31 points and 17 rebounds, Fleans Dervishi added 18 points and Brandon Williams had 13 points and 10 boards for Bryant (19-4, 10-2 Queens I-A).

Bayside 70, Francis Lewis 44. C.J. Okogeri scored 23 points and Lance Hazel added 16 for Bayside (18-0, 12-0 Queens II-A).

Long Island City 66, Flushing 55. Michael Laboy had 16 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists and Russell Keeling had 11 points off the bench, including five consecutive with two minutes left for LIC (6-6 Queens I-A). Mario Nunez netted 23 points for Flushing (3-9 Queens I-A).

Campus Magnet 70, August Martin 59. Andrew Gordon had 31 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists, George Brister added 12 points and eight rebounds and Heron Hargrave chipped in 14 points and eight assists for Magnet (4-6 Queens III-A).

John Adams 69, Far Rockaway 64.M Kyle Blount led Adams (10-8, 5-6 Queens III-A) with 18 points and six assists.

— Dylan Butler contributed to this story

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

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