The senior from Springfield Gardens High was the principal reason the Golden Eagles won the Queens III-A for the second year in a row. He helped Springfield beat Beach Channel Feb.1 to become co-champions with Campus Magnet. Then Jenkins calmed the maelstrom that had become his college decision process by verbally committing to Hofstra University five days later.On Tuesday, Jenkins poured in 37 points to lead Springfield to beat a talented and seasoned Jamaica team, 86-83, in the first round of the Borough Championships. The Golden Eagles advance to play rival Campus Magnet Thursday in a Queens semifinal game.The second-seeded Bulldogs welcomed back star guard Evan Thomas, who had been sidelined with an ankle injury, and he scored 16 points in a 78-39 drumming of No. 7 Bayside.When No. 3 Springfield Gardens (18-2) travels to Campus Magnet, it will be the third meeting of the season for the rivals and will finally set in motion a much anticipated match-up between two of the best players in the city, Jenkins and Thomas. The series is tied at 1-1 with each team winning at home."It's not the easiest task to win at their place," said Springfield Garden's first-year coach Angelo Buono. "They're always tough to play against."So is Jenkins, who once again defended the notion that he is perhaps the most underrated player in the city by carrying his team down the stretch against Jamaica (16-9). Jenkins scored 20 points in the second half and turned back a furious rally that saw the Beavers score 11 unanswered points late in the fourth quarter to whittle down Springfield's lead to 77-75 with 1:59 left.Jenkins scored seven of his team's next nine points, including a sequence where he was intentionally fouled and hit three free throws with 11 seconds left that essentially clinched the game and put his team ahead, 86-81.Watching the crowd celebrate as Jenkins was deliberately fouled by Jamaica's Jamel Benjamin, it was easy to see why Springfield Gardens has not lost at home all season. The late-arriving crowd, slowed by the school's painstakingly slow security, was fully formed and extremely loud."This is why you practice in the park for all those hours - for moments like these," Jenkins said. "When you're a little kid, you dream about situations like these: the game up in the air and you have to decide it on the line. I've played ball on my life, so I'm used to situations like these."Alex Crossland, Jamaica's third-year coach, had the look of a man who eaten something bad after the game. Two of his top big men, senior Caswell McLean and sophomore Afiba Briscoe had four fouls before the half, and he watched the Golden Eagles take nine free throws in the final two minutes to clinch the win. Jamaica was led by Carlos Avila's 24 points."We were taken out of our game," Crossland said. "All I can do is ask my guys to play, and that's what they did. The rest of what went on was out of our hands."Reach reporter Mitch Abramson by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300 Ext. 130.
©2006 Community News Group
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