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Bryant stuns Bayside to take Queens crown

The Bryant boys’ basketball team defeated Bayside, 81-73, to win the inaugural Queens borough championship at Elmcor Monday, but Owls players and coaches didn’t want to hear the word “upset.”

“When we got here people were saying that Bayside was going to blow us out,” said junior Diego Aguiar, who led the Owls with a game-high 27 points. “Nobody believed in us, but we believe in ourselves and now we have a championship for Bryant.”

Beach Channel believed. They were seeded No. 4 but fell on their home court in the quarterfinals. Then top-seeded Cardozo found out in the semifinal. And Monday, it was Bayside’s turn to learn how dangerous Bryant was.

“We didn’t get any respect,” said Bryant assistant coach Bill Tzimas. “We beat No. 4 and then we got under Cardozo’s skin and we got under [Bayside’s] skin. We’ve been underrated all year long.”

That perceived lack of respect continued for Bryant (24-4) when the seeds came out for the 32-team citywide playoffs. The Owls are seeded No. 20, behind Cardozo, Bayside, Beach Channel and Newtown, and have to play at No. 13 John F. Kennedy in a game scheduled for Wednesday.

“Nobody knows about us,” said senior Fleans Dervishi, who netted 15 points. “We are the best team in Queens, no doubt.”

The Owls proved they were the borough’s top dogs during a furious 12-0 run to close out the third quarter, erasing a 10-point deficit. During that four-minute stretch Bayside struggled with Bryant’s swarming halfcourt trap.

The Commodores were uncharacteristically sloppy with the ball and the Owls made them pay. Guards Brandon Williams (16 points), Munir Noureddine and William Ellison each stole the ball in the final 2:41 and on Williams’ driving layup, Bryant had its first lead of the game, 57-55 entering the fourth quarter.

“Not too many teams have been able to press us, and those were teams who were faster than Bryant,” said Bayside coach Joe Capuaua. “We just fell apart during that span and gave them a chance to get back in the game and they did.”

Bayside (23-2) regained the lead early in the fourth quarter on a putback by C.J. Okogeri. But the talented senior guard and teammate Kenny Johnson lost their composure three minutes later and it cost the Commodores dearly.

Trailing 65-61, Johnson was called for an intentional foul when he pulled Aguiar to the floor after Aguiar attempted a layup. Okogeri lost his cool and was nailed with a technical foul.

Aguiar and Dervishi netted all four foul shots and on the ensuing possession Williams scored on a layup. The six-point swing gave Bryant, which avenged an early-season loss to Bayside, a 71-61 lead with 3:06 left in the fourth quarter.

“We lost our composure,” Capuana said. “The technical foul definitely hurt us.”

Okogeri (18 points) and Lance Hazel (25 points) were big reasons why Bayside had a pair of 10-point second half leads. The backcourt duo drove to the hole at will, trying to get Aguiar into foul trouble. And the plan seemed to work as Bryant’s 6-foot-7 standout picked up his third foul with 1:37 left in the first half.

But Bryant head coach John Demas let Aguiar stay in the game for the rest of the half. He also didn’t pull him when Aguiar was called for his fourth foul with 3:42 left in the third quarter.

“We just kept firing, we kept playing,” Demas said. “When we score 80 points, we win.”

Bayside, meanwhile, has very little recovery time from the stinging loss as the 11th-seeded Commodores host No. 22 Port Richmond in the first round of the city playoffs Thursday.

“We put a lot of stock into this tournament, we wanted to be borough champions,” Capuana said. “Tomorrow though we’re back, we’ll watch the film of this game and prepare for Port Richmond.”

Bryant 86, Cardozo 81. Dervishi had 24 points and Aguiar added 24 points and 16 rebounds for the Owls in the upset win over top-seeded Cardozo (19-7) in the semifinals Saturday at John Bowne.

Bayside 69, Far Rockaway 58. Okogeri led the Commodores with 22 points in the semifinal win Saturday at John Bowne.

Cardozo 85, Forest Hills 65. Cameron Tyler had 24 points, Vic Morris added 22 points and Dwayne Johnson had 11 points for the Judges in the quarterfinals Friday. Tes Choudri netted 19 points and Junior Fuller added 14 points for No. 8 Forest Hills.

Bayside 90, Jamaica 67. Okogeri had 33 points and Kenny Johnson added 10 points and 12 rebounds for the Commodores in a quarterfinal win Friday.

Far Rockaway 79, Newtown 67. Wayne McAllister had 24 points, including a game-tying three-pointer with nine seconds left in regulation, to lift No. 6 Far Rock to the quarterfinal win at fourth-seeded Newtown Friday.

Bryant 56, Beach Channel 55. Aguiar’s 30 points and 16 rebounds paced the Owls Friday.

Manhattan Center 65, John Bowne 43. Louis Pena had 22 points and Terry Williams added 13 points for Manhattan Center (16-11) in an outbracket game Monday.

Murry Bergtraum 64, John Adams 58. Sam Jenkins netted 16 points and Andrew Hayles added 15 points for host Bergtraum (16-11) in an outbracket game Monday. Taylor Murphy led Adams (12-9) with 19 points and 10 boards.

Forest Hills 88, Urban Peace 80. Garnett Wright had 30 points and Junior Fuller added 13 points and 10 assists to lead Forest Hills (14-13) Monday in an outbracket game. The 28th-seeded Rangers face No. 5 Canarsie Thursday.

New Utrecht 81, Long Island City 54. Chad Timberlake led No. 26 New Utrecht (15-9) with 27 points in an outbracket game Monday.

John Adams 55, August Martin 52. Salah Brown had 19 points and Murphy added 17 points and 17 rebounds to lead the host Spartans to an overtime win over Martin in a Queens III-A tiebreaker Friday.

Cleveland 72, Queens Vocational 56. Tamil Elias had eight points and 10 boards for the Indians (9-11) in a non-league game.

Christ the King 52, Christian Brothers Academy 50. The Royals won this Prime Time Shootout matchup behind Japhet McNeil’s 11 points and Mitchel Beauford clutch three-pointer with two minutes remaining to give CK the lead after trailing by as many as 11.

St. Edmund Prep 72, St. John’s Prep 64. The Red Storm fell in overtime, as Matt Vitale led St. Edmund with 26 points and 15 rebounds.

Bishop Loughlin 65, Christ the King 58. Lions’ star Curtis Sumpter poured in 17 points, while teammate Jason Olive added 16 in the team’s win over the Royals.

Cathedral Prep 58, Salesian 57. Tom Sabbagh finished off with 15 points, including the game-winner, as Matt Maloney and Ray Tinneny added 14 apiece for the Crusaders, now 9-12 overall and 7-5 in league play.

Monsignor McClancy 64, St. Francis Prep 51. The Crusaders picked up their second league win of the season, sweeping the season series against the Terriers. Wesley Matthews led the way with 20 while Elvis Damjanovic added 13.

Archbishop Molloy 59, Holy Cross 55. Miguel Gonzalez scored 20 for the Knights, who hung tough , but fell short against the Stanners Friday night. Kevin Diffley and Kevin Hamilton led Molloy with 14 and 10 points, respectively.

Christ the King 59, St. Francis Prep 42. Brian Geffen scored a game-high 21 points for Prep, but it was not enough against CK. Japhet McNeil led the Royals with 15, followed by Eric Martin with 14 and Mitchel Beauford with 13.

Archbishop Molloy 85, Monsignor McClancy 59. Marlon Smith had 26 and Hamilton added 23 for the Stanners in this league win last week.

Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 143.

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