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Francis Lewis gets over the Hill

Coming off an impressive victory over previously eighth-ranked Murry Bergtraum in late December, No. 21 ranked St. Michael's Academy, a tall, rangy Catholic school team from Manhattan featuring the tallest player of them all, the 6-foot-4 Vaughn, was expected to pave the court with the Patriots.Instead, Francis Lewis doubled and triple-teamed Vaughn, known as "Baby Shaq" and held the Eagles to 3 points in the first quarter and 7 for the half for an 18-7 lead.With point guard Anjale Barrett finishing a two-game suspension for "team reasons," according to Eagles' coach, Apache Paschall, Francis Lewis dared the starting guards, a freshman and sophomore, respectively, to beat them from the outside. The Eagles uncorked long shots that led to long rebounds and fast break points for Francis Lewis. Rail thin and built for speed, Hill, who also had 7 rebounds, 5 steals and 3 assists attacked St. Michael's press with an appetite that led to 7 points in the third quarter and helped give Francis Lewis (14-1, 9-0) a 40-21 cushion heading into the fourth quarter. "I have to step up when we play good teams," she said. "I try to pass the ball and try to play good defense, but when we need some scoring, I have to do that, too. This game proved that we could play defense when we want to. It gives us a lot of confidence."College coaches recruiting other players on Francis Lewis invariably ask Eisenberg about the no-nonsense 5-foot-7 Hill, whose game is so sturdy and polished that she regularly sacrifices scoring for defense and passing. Hill plays AAU ball with Christ the King's Tina Charles, Cardozo's Marissa Flagg and Midwood's Melanie Murphy, three of the top players in the city. She isn't the first, second or third option, but she does the dirty-work, the inconspicuous stuff that coaches love and teammates respect. "All she wants to do is win," said Eisenberg.Vaughn could have interpreted all the attention she was getting on defense as a show of respect, but the 2 points she scored in the first half was nothing to brag about. Francis Lewis shadowed her like an annoying little sister, giving her breathing room only when Jessica Fuller and Vionca Murray were each worried about picking up their fourth fouls in the third quarter.Vaughn finished with a game-high 20 points, 8 of them coming in a 14-4 run in the fourth quarter for St. Michael's (9-3, 6-0) that brought them to within 47-36 with 2:27 to play. Francis Lewis' Gina Wade scored 8 of her 10 points in the final 2:26 to put the game on ice, and the enduring image was of Vaughn fouling out with under a minute left, her hulking physical presence finally vanquished from the court."I could tell that she was getting mad," said Murray, who finished with 15 points. "I knew that we were capable of holding them. We were playing good defense. We knew they would slow down once we got the lead."Francis Lewis, usually viewed as a stepping-stone for Murry Bergtraum in the PSAL championship game, might be good enough to crash the national rankings, something Eisenberg has been furiously working toward. Even though Paschall thought the outcome of the game was "85 percent our doing and 15 percent (was) their doing," the final score is as good a truth serum as any."In the last few years, we've been trying to increase the program bit by bit, from a good team in New York City, to being very good regionally to being good nationally," Eisenberg said. "When we lost our all-time leading scorer Jasmin Lawrence and leading rebounder, Alaina Davis (last year), a lot of people counted us out. This was a big game for us."Far Rockaway 49, Frank Sinatra 28. Shamar Stewartson had 20 points for Far Rockaway (9-1, 8-1 Queens B-I) on Monday.Newtown 55, Bryant 50. Amarylys Ortiz had 12 points for Newtown (9-6, 5-5 Queens B-II). Natasha P. Louis chipped in 22 points and 10 rebounds in the win.Cleveland 52, Jamaica 46. Stephanie Cruz had 13 points and Amanda Cruz had 11 for Cleveland (5-9, 3-7 Queens B-II) Monday.Flushing 52, Hillcrest 31. Jazmin Bradley scored 21 points for Flushing (13-3, 8-1 Queens B-III) on Monday.St. John's Prep 63, St. Agnes 30. Meghan Foley had 17 points, Alexis Pennella had 16 and Lanette Brannon and Candice Hilton added 10 points apiece for St. John's Prep (4-4, 4-3 CHSAA Division II) Monday.Christ the King 72, St. Francis Prep 34. Careem Gay had 19 points and Nicole Caldera added 11 for No. 1 Christ the King (10-0, 2-0) Saturday. Mary Louis 60, Sacred Heart 53. Patricia Zillas had 16 points and Melissa Velez added 13 points for Mary Louis (5-6) in an overtime win Saturday.Stella Maris 60, St. Savior 36. Jennifer Angelero had 18 points and became the first junior at Stella Maris (7-4, 7-3) to score 1,000 career points. Erin Casey added 14 points for the Lady Flippers Friday.Molloy 56, Mary Louis 33. Jessica McEntee had 14 points and Janine Maser added 12 for Molloy (6-7, 2-1) Jan. 5. Reach reporter Mitch Abramson by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300 Ext. 130.

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