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Van Buren, Bowne pull off upsets in girls’ ‘A’ quarterfinals

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For the Martin Van Buren girls' basketball team, the play of forwards Kamesha Lambright and Justinna Boatwright has been a constant all season. And it was again versus Food and Finance - the two combined for 38 points and 29 rebounds.

But what the Vee Bees' opponents didn't expect was the long-range game of Nickia Witherspoon. The senior scored 16 points and had three three-pointers in No. 7 Van Buren's 74-53 upset win over No. 2 Food and Finance on Sunday in the PSAL Class A quarterfinals at Hunter College.

"A three-point shot to Witherspoon is like a layup," Vee Bees coach Mike McClain said. "I've never seen a player that has that kind of range. I don't think she was in the (Food and Finance) scouting report. Even if she was, they really took her for granted."

Van Buren will play Queens A rival and No. 6-seeded John Bowne in the city semifinals Saturday at Hunter College at 11 a.m. Witherspoon averaged only 7.9 points per game in the regular season. Lambright, who routinely hit Witherspoon for outside shots, had 20 points and 22 rebounds. Boatwright added 18 points and seven rebounds as Van Buren dominated a team thought to be one of the best in the city.

"It was a good win," McClain said. "I thought they were a really good team. [Sunday], we were the better team and it definitely showed."

Van Buren went to the PSAL Class A city championship game in 2004, but has not won a girls' basketball title in over 50 years.

John Bowne 46, Medgar Evers 31. John Bowne loves a rematch. When the Wildcats played Van Buren for the second time this year, after falling in the first meeting, they won. Bowne played Medgar Evers earlier this season in the PSAL Girls' Basketball Showcase and lost. But once again the Wildcats got revenge, this time in the PSAL Class A quarterfinals.

Medgar Evers was the No. 3 seed and Bowne was seeded sixth.

Janisha (Brittany) Mitchell led Bowne with 14 points and Shakema Johnson added seven assists. Ashley Castle and Alease Tabb had 10 points apiece for Medgar Evers.

The Wildcats play Van Buren in the semifinals Saturday at Hunter College at 11 a.m. That game guarantees that a Queens team will be in the final, on March 22 at St. Francis College, for the first time since Van Buren in 2004.

Reach Associate Sports Editor Marc Raimondi by e-mail at mraimondi@timesledger.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 130.

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