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It’s gotta be the shoes: George lifts Van Buren to ‘W’

On Monday morning she went to a sneaker store to purchase a new, stickier pair. Later in the day, the Van Buren girls' basketball team visited Springfield Gardens High, and George was rewarded by recording the first triple-double of her career in a 54-39 win over the Golden Eagles.George, who wants to attend C. W. Post and has been doggedly trying to set up an appointment with the women's coach, had 13 points, 15 rebounds and 10 steals to complete the first triple-double in the 15 years that Michael McClain has coached at Van Buren.Rather than accept responsibility for her accomplishment, George pointed to her squeaky new kicks as the reason."I have been playing good this season, but I was having trouble with my sneakers. I was sliding all over the court," she said. "When I finally bought the new pair of sneakers four weeks ago, somebody stole them and I had to wear some different shoes that weren't even really basketball shoes. The ones I bought today aren't the same color as my teammates, but I guess it didn't matter."With the win, Van Buren (14-5, 10-2) tied Far Rockaway for the lead in Queens I-B. The Vee Bees have four games left on their schedule, including a potential division deciding game with Far Rockaway at home on Friday.Despite not practicing since last Thursday because of a school function in the gym, Van Buren, city 'B' finalists from a year ago, jumped out to a 35-9 lead at the half. Sophomore Samantha Johnson scored 16 of her 20 points before the intermission and George added 10 points."We were looking at this game as a stepping stone to catch Far Rockaway," said Johnson, a resident of Queens Village who started her freshmen year. "Our defense really effected them in the beginning." Springfield Gardens (12-9, 9-5) turned the ball over 17 times in the first half, their passes hanging in the air like large balloons and Van Buren's players swooped in like defensive backs. They led 16-3 after the first quarter.Springfield Gardens eventually began to listen to the steady stream of advice/exasperation from their coach Janet Kleiner, who counsels her players like they are inmates on death row, giving them directions as if their life depended on it.Kleiner treats turnovers and listless play like influenza. She is in her 24th year as head coach, has won more than 300 games in her career and even though her team was down early against Van Buren, she never stopped trying. Her players soon followed.Resting his starters in the second half, McClain watched the Golden Eagles outscore Van Buren 23-6 in the fourth quarter. Second year player Cherise Crichlow, a senior, scored 13 of her game-high 22 points in the fourth quarter, and senior Latisha Alston scored all 8 of her points in the fourth as well.It was a small moral victory for a team that went 5-11 last year and barring a terrible collapse, should make the playoffs."We never gave up," Kleiner said. "We kept on fighting."Flushing 57, Frank Sinatra 36. Courtney Roberts had 23 points and Jazmin Bradley added 21 for Flushing (13-2 Queens B-III) Monday.Forest Hills 58, Bryant 34. Katie Gilbert scored 32 points and grabbed 16 rebounds for Forest Hills (14-4, 10-3 Queens B II) Monday.Newtown 64, Cleveland 47. On Monday, Talaya Melton had 16 points and Laura Ulloa scored 12 for Newtown (12-6, 8-6 Queens B II).Long Island City 57, Renaissance 31. Latoya Noblin had 15 points Monday for LIC (8-6, 8-3 Queens B-II).Edison 25, Campus Magnet 21. Anika Charles scored 16 points Monday for Edison (6-6 Queens B-I).Flushing 52, Queens High School of Teaching 32. Jennifer Nelson scored 13 points and Jazmine Bradley scored 11 points for Flushing (17-3, 12-2 Queens B-III) on Friday.Far Rockaway 47, Lane 20. Shamar Stewartson scored 13 points and also had five steals Friday for Far Rockaway (11-2 Queens B-I).Frank Sinatra 41, Newcomers 38. On Friday, Courtney Roberts had 25 points and Denise Finnegan added 16 for Frank Sinatra (11-8, 7-7 Queens B-III).Bishop Kearney 68, Mary Louis 53. Maria Laterza had 17 points and Kristina Triglia added 16 for Bishop Kearney (10-6, 3-4 CHSAA) Monday.Molloy 50, St. Francis Prep 36. Despite playing with a broken bone in her left hand, Jessica McEntee had 11 points and E.J. Dreyer and Janine Maser added 11 apiece for Molloy (8-11, 3-3) Sunday. Maiza Mock led St. Francis Prep with 8 points.Bishop Kearney 59, St. Francis Prep 47. Gina Catherall had 19 points and Josephine Raccuglia added 11 for the Terriers Saturday.Reach reporter Mitch Abramson by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300 Ext. 130.

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