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Bosco’s Corner: A look back at borough sports in ’03

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Ah, and so it ends, another year of sports in the great borough of Queens. So in addition to buying a brand-new calendar featuring the great works of French impressionist painter Claude Monet to replace the Keith Harring that adorned my kitchen wall, I will take this opportunity to reflect on the goings on that filled these pages over the last 12 months.

The year started as it usually does, with basketball season in high gear. What a difference a year makes. At this time last season, the St. John’s men’s basketball team was in the midst of a less-than-stellar sojourn through its schedule before miraculously storming back late in the slate to win the National Invitation Tournament for a record fifth time.

But the team’s winning effort in the championship game was the last time star Marcus Hatten would suit up for the Johnnies. Hatten may have saved then head coach Mike Jarvis a lot of grief by leading the team to the win, but ultimately the coach could not save his job.

Jarvis was fired last month in a surprise move that sent shockwaves through the entire collegiate basketball community. His removal as head coach, though late in 2003, certainly stands out as the sports story of the year in Queens.

I also want to point out the improvement the SJU women’s team has made under new coach Kim Barnes Arico. And what would Queens basketball be without, well, Queens basketball. Both the QC teams failed to achieve ultimate victory in 2003 but certainly provided a nice batch of highlights along the way.

The New York Mets also could have been considered as the borough’s top story, but since this newspaper doesn’t really cover the team on a regular basis and the fact that they stunk to high heaven merit the Metropolitans only a small mention here and not a very pleasant one.

My wish for St. John’s and the Mets is that these teams, which can bring the borough’s residents together as no other, find some of their former glory in the coming season. No longer should we here in Queens have to settle for the mediocrity we have been shoveled in recent years. A new coach for St. John’s and some pitching for the Mets would be welcomed in 2004.

The high school basketball season ended last season with some spectacular play, specifically the performance of the Christ the King boys’ team in winning the CHSAA state championship and the Archbishop Molloy girls’ team capturing the CHSAA ‘C’ state Federation crown.

Cathedral Prep and the Christ the King girls’ team also won CHSAA state championships in what was one of the more successful seasons for Queens hoops in recent memory. Other standout seasons were turned in by the usual cast of characters, including the Cardozo and Molloy boys’ teams and the Francis Lewis and St. Francis Prep girls’ teams.

If there were one thing I could wish for all the Queens high school hoop teams, it would be greater exposure. If Queens stood alone as its own city, clearly it would be one of the top places to play in the nation. But the borough is often overshadowed by Brooklyn, the Bronx and Manhattan, something I hope our teams change this season.

Baseball and softball season came next, with Queens again being well-represented on the high school playing field. The Molloy boys and the St. Francis Prep girls made it to their respective city championships only to come up just short, while the Cathedral Prep baseball and Forest Hill softball teams captured ‘B’ city crowns.

Other standout performers were the Molloy, Francis Lewis, Cardozo and Mary Louis softball teams, as well as the Cardozo, John Adams and St. Francis Prep baseball teams.

A close runner-up for sports story of the year had to be the incredible run made by the Belmont-bred Funny Cide, which won two legs of the Triple Crown at Churchill Downs and Pimlico before missing out on immortality on his home track. Probably not since the days of Secretariat or Seabiscuit have so many fans cheered for one horse at the legendary Belmont loop. Maybe this year a horse will finally break the more than 25-year wait for another Triple Crown champion.

After a long, hot and muggy summer, football returned in September. In the CHSFL, Holy Cross looked like the team to beat all season long with players such as Shaun Stewart, Paul Jennings and Kevin Ogeltree. And while Cross made it to the ‘AA’ championship, it was borough rival Christ the King, led by Anthony Lazarus, to win the crown.

Individually, a host of Queens products made big news on the national scene in 2003, none more than Craig “Speedy” Claxton, the Christ the King alum who helped lead the San Antonio Spurs to the NBA Championship in June.

I’d love to list all the accomplishments of all the borough-bred stars, but that list would go on and on and on. Even just listing their names would be tough, but athletes such as Monte Barrett, Chamique Holdsclaw, Ron Artest, Sue Bird, Lamar Odom, Rafer Alston, Willie Poole, Steve Karsay, Royal Ivey and Kevin Kelley certainly made my job a little more interesting over the past 12 months.

Now let’s see what 2004 will bring.

Reach Sports Editor Anthony Bosco by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 130.

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